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Online Classes: Success Comes from Beginning Every Class With The Ending in Mind!

Hello,

Here are some tips to help prepare you for your journey of taking online courses. 

Begin With The Ending in Mind

Preparing yourself for an online course, whether it is totally online or with some classroom time, is a matter of asking a series of questions.

Studies have shown that it takes a certain amount of self discipline and motivation to schedule and manage yourself through such a course. If this is your first experience with online or distance learning, your skill set of experiences and expectations begin with your educational goals with the course.

What purpose does this online course serve in my education?

Think the process through! You may have to work without face-to-face contact with your teacher, your classmates, and possibly outside academic support

How confident am I of

  1. Managing my time?
  2. Keeping your focus on the course objectives and assignments?
  3. Taking responsibility for accomplishing tasks?
  4. Meeting unexpected problems or challenges?

The course syllabus provides information about

  1. Prerequisites
  2. Course objectives and priorities
  3. The teacher and language of instruction
  4. Course schedule or pacing as regards timelines for completing tasks
  5. Procedures for submitting assignments
  6. Requirements for interaction whether live or asynchronous contributions whether in person or online via email, text messaging, chat rooms, videoconferencing whether discussions, feedback on projects, Q&A sessions, whether with the instructor, course mates, experts
  7. Assessment & tests Grading scales
  8. Academic support, whether online or in person Study guides, help lines, reference works, research librarians
  9. Opportunities for feedback throughout the course.

What is this course electronic learning environment like?

  1. What are the course technical requirements hardware, software, specialized applications
  2. What is the optimal browser, and perhaps email client
  3. What training is necessary for the course applications?
  4. What training or orientation is available for the textbook website, CD, DVD, etc.
  5. What training or orientation is available for the course learning system, such as Blackboard, WebCT, Moodle, etc.
  6. What training or orientation is available for additional communications options? Conference or chat rooms, discussion boards, video conferencing, email, voicemail, text messaging, etc.

What is my home learning environment like?

  1. What hardware and software do I have at home?
  2. What access to the Internet and email do I have? How fast is the connection and what connection is necessary?
  3. What technology does this course require? If not explicitly stated, ask the teacher, If I should have a computer failure (disk crash or virus attack), what is my back up?
  4. Can I schedule time to complete assignments without interference?
  5. What alternatives outside the home are available to me?
  1. As a learner, what is your skillset,
    experiences & expectations that will help you succeed?
    1. Motivation
      1. Educational goals
      2. Personal responsibility
      3. Self discipline
    2. Life experience
    3. Resource management
      1. Task focus
      2. Time management skills
      3. Coping skills
      4. Communication skills (IV. B.)
         
  2. Who will be in your community of learning to help you succeed?
    1. Community
      1. Teacher
      2. Teaching assistants
      3. Tutors
      4. Fellow students
      5. Support professionals:
        Librarians, tutors, study skills professionals, lab managers,
    2. Will you be
      1. Autonomous/independent
      2. Social/fitting in/connected
    3. What are your communication skills?
      1. Individual: email/voicemail/text messaging
      2. Group: video conference/chat rooms/discussion boards
    4. Netiquette
       
  3. What are the components you need in your electronic learning environment?
    1. Institutional resource centers
      training/tutorials
    2. At home
    3. Course learning system
    4. Textbook website
    5. Technical requirements
      1. applications requirements
        browser, email, communications
      2. hardware
        ISP: access to Internet & email
      3. Viruses & computer/network failures
  1. What components should you consider in a course of study?
    1. Course syllabus
      1. Objectives
      2. Preconditions
        1. Prerequisites
        2. Constraints of time and distance
        3. Paced/unpaced
        4. Language of instruction
        5. Course interruptions/trips, emergencies
      3. Content outline
    2. Calendar
      1. Assignments/procedures
      2. Tasks with priorities
      3. Communications sequence
      4. Assessment
    3. Teacher/instructor &
      Teaching assistants
    4. Content
      1. Lectures
        In person and/or digital
      2. Texts
      3. Digital texts
      4. Course website
      5. Course management system
    5. Evaluation/feedback
      1. Tests
      2. Assignments' grades
      3. Communications with teacher and learning community
    6. Academic support
      1. Online resources/library/helplines
      2. Study guides and strategies
      3. Tutors/professional assistants

Overview for the online learner and learning

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