A fat red cat works or learns remotely home on a laptop in a room and afraid to wake his sleeping cat

Flexibility and convenience rank top of the list of reasons as to why students prefer online learning to the conventional classroom.

Ironically, these same factors have been attributed to students performing poorly or failing to complete their courses due to procrastination and falling behind in course work.
To ensure that the online learning experience is positive and successful, new students should keep the following simple tips in mind.

1.) Read the course outline

The syllabus is a critical aspect of any course as it serves as a guide or road map for the entire course work. It is the key to successful time management by an online student.

It clearly outlines the course requirements such as text books and the schedule which includes synchronised classes, threaded discussions, assignment instructions and their due dates.

Students should make it a habit to review the outline again on a weekly basis to familiarise themselves with the instruction and avoid mistakes

2.) Communicate with your instructors

Students should make an effort to stay in regular contact with the instructor through email, video calls or over the phone. Instructors want students to succeed and are more than willing to help.

Unlike in the traditional mode of learning where tutors and students engage one on one, it is difficult for an instructor to know when an e-learner has a problem.

Students must therefore ask questions and communicate immediately they experience a problem with course content or technology.

3.) Time management

Keeping up to date in an online course is very important. Students should establish a workable schedule and stick to it.

To do well, the student must curve out a specific period of time every week to read, watch online content, complete any assignments and spare time for at least one revision.

A 10 minute break per hour in between studying is important to avoid burn out. The student should study the syllabus and note due dates and deadlines to avoid falling behind in course work.

Study times should not be skipped whether or not one has pending or due work. Procrastination should be avoided and students should try and work ahead if possible.

4.) A good study area

A comfortable and conducive learning environment is important and could make a significant difference in how productive a student is. It should be away from distractions such as people, cell phones and television.

To avoid temptations, the student should also consider getting rid of computer games. The lighting being used in the study area should be as bright as the computer screen to avoid eye strain.

5.) Connection with other students

Discussions with peers are a big part of learning. Online study does not mean you are on your own. With all the modern applications and social tools available today, connecting with online classmates is easy.

When participating in these discussions you will realise that each person has a valuable experience, knowledge and different perspectives on varied ideas which is of great use in the learning process.

Discussions are also a great avenue for students to avoid isolation by socialising and making friends.

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