Completing education online is an ideal choice for those looking for convenience. Whether you are completing an online continuing medical education course towards maintaining your ARDMS credential, taking an online biology course to better prepare for an allied health program or completing an entire online degree, nothing beats rolling out of bed and having your “computer classroom” a hop, jump and a skip away.
But make no mistake about it—online courses do not equal bird courses. “Online classes may offer a lot more leeway in terms of time, flexibility and freedom but those advantages don’t also mean they will make the class easier,” says Business 2 Community’s Peter Kim. “Online college courses are actually designed to prepare students to be more independent, both with the technologies they will encounter and the expectations that their job and the industry will have for them when they enter the workforce. So online college courses shouldn’t be seen as an easy way to get an A on your record. They really should be viewed as a job that requires attention to detail, an open learning environment and a willingness to face new ideas and concepts in an ever changing world.”
Avoid the mistake of thinking your online course will be easier than a traditional classroom setting. Also avoid these five common mistakes made by online learners.
1. Technical Difficulties
It’s not unheard of that some online students will turn on their computer just minutes before their class’ first scheduled discussion, not yet familiar with the online platform. Some of these students get frustrated and might even decide to drop the class. Make sure to familiarize with how to login and navigate around the virtual classroom well ahead of time. This may require contacting your school or professor, via e-mail or telephone, for further instruction. Also ensure you have access to a reliable computer equipped with all the necessary configurations. “Your program should list for you the necessary computer specifications for each course – browser versions, operating systems, and which programs you’ll need (or need to download),” says Concordia University Online.
2. Time Management Issues
While online courses often offer a high level of flexibility, this does not mean you still do not have assignments to complete and tests to write. “One of the biggest mistakes an online student can make is assuming you have all the time in the world to finish assignments,” writes Grantham University Blog writer, Eric Sorrentino. “…Procrastinating doesn’t translate well in brick-and-mortar colleges or online institutions.” As an online student, you have to be even more disciplined. While some online instructors will create a schedule for you when assignments and readings should be completed, others won’t. Set your own schedule (based on a predetermined completion date either set by the school or yourself) and stick to it!
3. Not Participating
It is very tempting for some students to feel like they can slack off and just observe (or even ignore) online class discussions. Those that make this mistake miss out on being able to participate in a forum that is often easier to express oneself compared to a large lecture hall. Education is about discourse and what better way to feel comfortable doing so than in a quasi-anonymous fashion. Another mistake online students make is never interacting with their professor. If you are having difficulty understanding a topic or an assignment, contact your instructor during their virtual office hours, via e-mail, phone or even arrange to meet them in person.
4. Tempting Distractions
Some online students make the mistake that they can get away with a lot more while completing courses on their personal computer. They may watch television, be instant messaging a friend or even having friends over during a scheduled discussion or class. Of course it is tempting because it is easy to get away with. These distractions can also hamper you completing assignments that you are working on independently. “If you’re not completely maintaining your focus on your online college course during the scheduled time, you can make a simple mistake that could cost you serious points on your final grade,” says B2C’s Kim. “The best way to avoid making this mistake is to simply turn these distractions off and instead use them as a reward for completing schoolwork and major assignments.”
5. Internet Slang
While each online class is different, many of them include an online discussion forum shared between students and the professor, such as a message board or even a live virtual lecture that includes a chat function. It might not look that impressive if you type “lol” or “u” instead of “you” in such an educational setting. Treat all discussions as if you were being evaluated for marks (and you may be if participation is counted into the grade). Write in full sentences with proper grammar and spelling and use a respectful tone.