Here are some tips for online learning success to make sure you get the most value out of your studies.
1 Organize your time
Planning your schedule carefully and keeping pace with your program will help you keep stress to a minimum. One of the benefits of learning online is the added flexibility for those with jobs or other commitments; however, it’s important to be realistic about the amount of time that should be devoted to your studies.
It’s a good idea to consider the following before embarking on a new course:
- Do you have another computer you could access in the event of a technical difficulty?
- Will you be able to participate regularly? You’ll need to log in daily or several times per week. The course discussions are asynchronous—not everyone is online at the same time, meaning it can take a few days for conversations to unfold.
- Are you prepared for independent study and collaborative work with your classmates?
- Have you left yourself extra time for studying, asking for help, and working with your instructor or other support services in the event that you find the course material more challenging?
- Are you a slow reader, or do you struggle with reading comprehension? Consider carefully how you would complete the coursework and what supports you may need to access throughout the term. Be honest with yourself about whether you would prefer an in-person experience.
What if trouble arises? Preparing for technical issues, heavy workloads and exam time will help you to avoid emergencies, but last-minute problems occur from time to time. Before you send a frantic call for help or a request for an extension, remember that your instructor and support staff are not available around the clock. Your email, call, or post should be clear and reasonable.
How to Manage Your Time: Strategies and Tools for Time Management
2 Study effectively
Academic success is closely related to effective study skills. You already have a strong foundation of skills, but we can support your efforts to refine them to meet the challenge of learning at university.
We offer instruction on active listening in lecture, critical reading, good notetaking, regular review, and thoughtful exam preparation. These skills and strategies are relevant across disciplines and at all levels of education.
How to Study: Notetaking, Critical Reading, and Exam Preparation
3 Discipline and independence
You’ll be required to keep track of the discussions, which means logging in frequently and being an active participant. Since you won’t be seeing your instructor face-to-face, you’ll need to know when to ask for help—whether that means reaching out to your peers, your instructor, or one of Trent’s Student Support Services.
4 Have great reading comprehension and writing skills
Your online studies will consist of a substantial amount of reading and written communication. You’ll need to be able to comprehend all of the core content and instructions. It’s important that you’re able to express yourself clearly and that you feel comfortable interacting with others in writing. The participation in online discussions can be more time consuming than classroom discussions, in part because it takes longer to type out comments. Participation is a key element of your grade—so there are typically more contributions from your peers to absorb than there would be in a classroom setting.
How to Write in University: Organized, Clear, and Analytical Writing
How to Use Sources: Referencing Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism
How to Edit Your Writing: Grammar, Clarity, and Coherence
Guidelines for Communicating in Your Online Courses
5 Do your best to uphold academic integrity
Online learning can seem very different from in-person course work: lectures are viewed online, discussions are often conducted through posting comments, and many quizzes and tests are open-book or self-invigilated.
What is not different about online learning is Trent’s commitment to authentic student learning and the values of academic integrity. Remember, while the format of your course work may be online, the principles that underlie Trent’s Academic Integrity Policy are still being enforced.
Academic Integrity and Online Learning
6 Participate as often as possible
Class discussions in the form of threaded conversations are an important component. Participating as often and proactively as possible enriches the learning experience and helps forge meaningful connections. The syllabus for your course outlines how participation impacts your grade.
To achieve a good participation grade:
- Post more often than the minimum requirement for your course
- Submit comments in a timely and consistent fashion throughout the term
- Demonstrate reflection, analysis, and insight on the course materials and on the contributions of your classmates
- Writing should be well-organized and free of grammatical and spelling errors
7 Prepare ahead
You may be asked to use a new online tool to participate in your course. Take the time to set up the tool in advance of an online meeting and review the technical requirements and instructions before using the technology to avoid last-minute technical glitches.
8 Don’t be afraid to ask for help
It's only natural to have questions, so get comfortable reaching out to your instructor if you need clarity on something. Identify yourself and the course you’re taking. Many instructors teach more than one course so they need some context. But please be patient as they may need more time to respond.