Online Learning skills
Pay attention to the course learning objectives
Every course has stated learning objectives. Don’t ignore these objectives since they are carefully crafted and form the foundations around which well-designed courses are built. Lectures, activities, written assignments, discussion boards and tests - in fact, everything in a course - flows from the course objectives. By understanding them, you will appreciate what is expected of you in all aspects of the class and will understand the criteria upon which your grades will be based.
Read and practice everything
Go through every screen in a course, not just the graded assignments. Don’t run through a course skipping videos, animations and ungraded self-assessment activities. Your instructors have designed the course to help you achieve its learning objectives. Even if something doesn’t have a grade attached to it, you can be sure that it is there to provide supplemental learning opportunities to better prepare you for graded assignments and exams.
Instructors want to help, they want students to be successful and expect students to ask questions. The most frequently heard complaint of course instructors about online students is: ‘Why don’t they ask?’ The virtual space in online learning can be a barrier, if you let it get in the way. If you have a question about course content, need clarification on a difficult concept – ask. And when you do ask a question, make it count. Before you post a question, know what you are asking and why. Be clear and concise in your communication. You’ll be glad you asked!
Make connections with fellow students
Connecting with online classmates and building a learning community is easier than you might think given all of the social tools and applications available today. Reach out to an individual student, send an email to ask a question, or create a Facebook group for your class, even create a small study group. In the course your instructor and staff will provide you with all the tools you need to make those valuable connections.
You’ll be collaborating with your classmates for group projects and assignments. Numerous online courses involve some form of interaction among students yet frequently students question the value of group work, especially in online courses.
Developing good collaboration skills will be an asset beyond the online classroom. Employers, regardless of sector, seek people who are team players and who can communicate across digital platforms with co-workers or clients on projects and/or research. Given the global and digital nature of the world today, digital collaboration is an essential skill for all.
Be able to meet the minimum requirements for the program
The requirements for online are no less than that of any other quality educational program. The successful student will view online as a convenient way to receive their education – not an easier way.
Accept critical thinking and decision making as part of the learning process
The learning process requires the student to make decisions based on facts as well as experience. Assimilating information and executing the right decisions requires critical thought – case analysis does this very effectively.
Be able to think ideas through before responding
Meaningful, quality input into the virtual classroom is an essential part of the learning process. Time is given in the process to allow for the careful consideration of responses. The testing and challenging of ideas is encouraged; you may not always be right, but do be prepared to participate fully accept a challenge.
Establish a regular schedule.
Log on to your course every day ... or as a minimum five days a week. Courses are designed for students to do at least six hours of work each week and it is not wise or effective to wait until the end of the week to do all the coursework in one session. Manage your time and do some work each day, just as you would in a traditional course.
Several studies on online student behaviour show that logging onto the course home page consistently each week is associated with higher grades for students. Get into the habit of checking in consistently, even daily, to read discussion posts, check for instructor announcements and/or review course materials. While you are logged on, get involved and be an active participant in discussions. Though threaded discussions may appear daunting when you first get started, everyone has something of value to contribute. By logging on consistently each week, reading and responding to classmate postings, you will begin to feel part of a community and enhance your learning experience at the same time.
Virginia Tech has developed a page for students with time management strategies.
Be willing and able to integrate the time needed for your course in your daily life
Online learning is not easier than the traditional educational process. In fact, many students will say it requires much more time and commitment.
Be open to new ways of learning
Students learn in different ways and instructors often use a variety of strategies in order to appeal to a wide variety of learning styles. Give animations, videos and audio files a try, even if they seem different from what you’re used to. Well-designed courses use technology to enhance learning, so be open to it.
Be comfortable communicating through text
Most communication in an online course occurs through the written word. Discussion board posts, written assignments and email are all common modes of communication in online courses. This is different from traditional classes, where a lot of communication is oral. Be prepared to read and write a lot.
Respond to discussion board questions with substantive remarks. An example of a bad post would be a very short "I agree with the previous post" response. A good post would bring up thought-provoking questions related to the lesson’s subject matter and would consist of several well-thought out sentences. You will probably be given points and grades for your postings and detail and substance will earn you higher points and grades. A well-designed discussion board is provided to generate thoughtful discourse. Use the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with your classmates.
We believe that learning is an active and social process. We therefore encourage you to participate in the discussion forums – not only to ask questions about material that you did not fully grasp, but also to support your fellow classmates. You will be amazed how much it helps in the learning process!
Use available resources
TU Delft offers a variety of free support services that can help you succeed. In addition to the services that you can find on your main Blackboard page, take advantage of other resources, such as other free online courses:
- Self-study Course English
- Pre-University Calculus
Academic integrity represents one of the most essential elements of the teaching and learning process. All TU Delft learners are expected to fulfill their academic obligations through honest and independent effort. While supporting your fellow students during the course is encouraged, when you submit assignments and quizzes that are defined by your instructor as individual work, you warrant that the work is truly your own. You can read more about TU Delft's Fraud and Plagiarism policy and Code of Ethics.