Whether you obtain your degree on campus or online, studying is a major prerequisite to earning that degree.  However, studying for a traditional class and for an online class will involve different tactics and techniques due to the different ways the classes are conducted.

Traditional classrooms involve you attending class at predetermined times at least once a week, sometimes more. You participate in verbal discussions about the material you read with your professor and classmates, you directly listen to lectures from the professor and take notes on it, you have physical textbooks you take with you to class, you hand in your assignments directly to the professor, and you take the tests and quizzes expected of you when the professor decides to give them to you.

Online classrooms, on the other hand, don’t usually require you to attend a traditional classroom, you don’t have verbal discussions about the material you read, you read the information the professor has given you online or you watch a video stream of the professor’s lecture right on your computer screen, you usually don’t have physical textbooks (everything is online, from the course material to the homework assignments,) and you have several days or even weeks to take the required tests and quizzes to pass the course.

As you can tell, completing an online course from a traditional offline course is a bit different – for one thing, you are mostly on your own when it comes to an online course; the main communication you will have with your professor and classmates will be all online via message boards, email, instant messaging, etc. You may be able to call your professor with questions you might have, but for the most part, there will be no verbal communication with other members of the course.

Therefore, you need to be really committed to completing the online coursework and motivate yourself to do so. This isn’t always easy, especially for people who like to have verbal communication with their professors and fellow classmates. An online course can be a lonely experience for them.

In addition, when you factor in the other demands of your life, such as your current career, your spouse and children, paying bills, etc., it can be very easy to become distracted and not put forth your best effort or even slack off of attending online classes on an everyday basis.

One of the main keys to staying on track with your online coursework is to log in every day, or at least 5-6 times a week; once you fall behind, it’s very difficult to catch up, and you won’t have much beyond your own determination and persistence to encourage you to catch up. If you’re having trouble concentrating and focusing early on when you are on schedule with the rest of your class, it will likely be impossible for you to push yourself to catch up with
what you missed if you fall behind. So do everything you can to not fall behind in your online coursework.

Some tips to help you stay focused and determined to complete your online courses:

Try to develop a schedule you can stick to and log in at or around the same time every day; this will help you stay on track with your online courses.

If you are the only one in your household at the time you are taking your online courses, either turn off the phone, take it off the hook, or let the answering machine or voicemail pick up any messages you receive; you don’t need phone calls distracting you from your online coursework.

Write down the reason you want to complete this online course and post it near your computer monitor so you can always look to it when you are feeling down and are distracted by outside factors.

Think about your loved ones and the better life you can provide for them when you get your degree. You might even consider putting pictures of them near your monitor, though if you feel you will be distracted by those pictures and start daydreaming about good times you’ve had with them, it’s probably better if you don’t put pictures near your monitor. But, if those pictures will give you added motivation to do your best and complete the online coursework, it’s something worth considering.

It’s also important to take time away from the computer as well; just because you are taking an online course that is challenging doesn’t mean you should spend 24 hours a day on the computer. Put forth the time and effort required of you, but don’t forget that spending all your time online with your coursework will likely lead to burnout and a loss of interest in completing your course.

Therefore, schedule some time away from the computer for a favorite activity, especially with loved ones. The time away will recharge you and give you added motivation to complete your online courses as efficiently as possible.

Online courses are becoming a mainstream way of obtaining a  degree, but one must be aware that this new type of learning  presents unique challenges that must be addressed in order for one to really thrive in this new type of learning environment.

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