The History of Online Learning

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The History of Online Learning

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The history of online learning is now more relevant than ever with recent events. Today, more than one third of all students taking at least one online course.

But success for online students may be a bit different than acing your courses on campus. Here’s what to expect and how to prepare!

First of all, online learning isn’t new or easy.

That’s a common misconception. Sure, online courses could possibly make your life easier, by offering a flexible way to study. But the course contents may be the same as what you’d learn on campus.

And, online students might have some unique challenges. (We’ll get to those, later!)

Does that mean you shouldn’t try it? Of course not! Just don’t assume that online learning will be less work than a traditional college program.

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Pick Your Learning Format

First, decide which online class format is perfect for you – or try both kinds!

  • Synchronous learning. This means “at the same time.” You’ll need to show up to virtual class meetings, using videoconferencing. A benefit of this format is live participation. You can chat with your instructors and classmates in real time.
  • Asynchronous learning. This means “not at the same time.” In this type of course, you’ll watch prerecorded lessons – on your own schedule. It’s more flexible, which many students love. And, you can still engage with your prof and peers.  

Know Your Tech Tools

As an online learner, your technology tools are your best friends. That doesn’t mean you need the very latest device. But, your laptop, desktop computer, or tablet must support your online course’s requirements. That means being able to install and run any software you need for the course.

And it goes without saying: you’ll need a reliable internet connection.

Having tech challenges? Most colleges and universities have resources to help. That could mean anything from lending you a Wi-Fi hotspot to giving each student a laptop. And, know how to reach your school’s tech support team if you need help.

81% of U.S. college students said digital learning technologies helped them boost their grades

Make Space to Study

Campus students have computer labs and study lounges. As an online learner, much of your study time will probably be spent at home.

You can create the perfect study space with:

  • An ergonomic desk chair
  • A desk that’s the right height for you
  • A power strip to charge devices
  • Plants (for cleaner air!)
  • Inspirational posters
  • A water bottle to stay hydrated
  • Noise-cancelling headphones (goodbye, distractions!)
  • Anything else that helps you focus

It’s also important to set boundaries – especially if you’re the go-to person in your family. Make sure your kids, spouse, parents, or pets know when you need quiet time to finish your assignments.

Practice Online Learning Success Skills

Online learners may need to build new skills – like how to stop procrastination before it starts. Or how to ask for help with a new concept. Or how to stay motivated while studying at home.

It’s not that traditional students don’t need to learn these things, too. They do. But as an online learner, you might have to try a little harder. It’s not as easy to turn to the person next to you to ask a question, or stay a few minutes after class to talk to the professor.

But you can still get the most out of your classes and have an amazing college experience.

Here are 6 success skills every online learner should know:

  • How to connect with peers online: Everything from starting a social media group to scheduling virtual meetups could help you stay in touch.
  • How to get help with something: Be proactive about asking for a hand – whether it’s tutoring, tech support, or just a question you want answered.
  • How to manage your time: Set a schedule and stick to it. Use apps (or an old-school agenda book) to help you stay organized, create to-do lists, and reach goals.
  • How to participate: It could be in a virtual class meeting or on an online discussion board. Either way, get comfortable with weighing in!
  • How to avoid distractions: Sometimes willpower needs a little help. Use apps to block social media while you study. Keep your music low. And, avoid doing too many things at once!
  • How to take it one day at a time: Adjusting to online learning happens quickly for some learners. For others, it takes longer. Give yourself time to find your rhythm and the success strategies that work for you!

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Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

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