Study Tips and Energizers for Online Learners

Barry Lenson

Most folks agree that online learning ranks among the greatest inventions ever created.  If you’re an online student, you can do your coursework any time, repeat sections of courses until you digest them fully, take classes while you’re in the military and enjoy other terrific benefits.

Great, right? Yet some distance learners say that there are drawbacks too.  A recent post on Distance Learning College Guide mentions that online students can suffer from social isolation – and that online courses don’t allow them to speak up in class and improve their oral communication skills.

Small price to pay, against the many benefits of online learning. But to make sure you are getting the most from our online college courses, here are some ways to make the experience even better . . .

Take tutorials before the class begins. Trying to absorb course content while you are learning how to use the course dashboard and message boards can slow your start in a class. So be sure to take online orientations ahead of time.

Take a little time to set up your online course folders. Sure, a lot of your coursework will be saved on your online school’s server. But there are still documents that you will create and save on your own computer, such as written assignments and notes on research. When you get organized ahead of time by setting up folders for your coursework, you improve the quality of your learning experience.  Note: Don’t forget that after your course is over, the work you saved on the course dashboard may be deleted. That’s another reason to save your work on your own computer in an organized way.

Try not to be chained to a desktop computer. There’s nothing like a go-anywhere laptop to enhance the online learning experience. And with prices so low today for powerful laptops, this is a great time to add one to your learning arsenal.

Get ergonomic. In other words, create a comfortable area where you will do most of your online work. A good chair and a desk that positions your computer monitor at mid-eye height are good ideas. Also make sure that light is not too bright in the area where you will be working. Office design experts say that subdued lighting is easiest on a computer-user’s eyes.  And when you are reading documents on your computer, increase the font size to BIG. It’s much easier on the eyes.

Take care of your comfort and energy. Take work breaks every 30 minutes or so. Get up and move around about once an hour – or go outside for a brisk walk. Keep some bottled water or favorite drinks handy – as well as fruit, granola bars, nuts or other solid snacks.  And remember that good ventilation translates to better energy.

Reduce distractions. Silence your cell phone or set it to vibrate. Turn the radio down, or turn it off.  Tell the family that you are in a “do not disturb” mode.

Organize your online study tasks to mesh with your energy cycle. Some online learners tackle their writing assignments first during their study time, when their mental energy is at its peak. After that, they review future assignments, make posts to class discussion boards and tackle other tasks that require less mental “edge.” Experiment to see what works best for you.

Those are just a few tips to optimize your experience as a student at StraighterLine. Test drive them – and let us know how you are doing.

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