Online courses are becoming more common, especially at the college level. Learning in an online environment provides students with the convenience of not having to commute to their local college, or taking a couple of core classes over the summer in the comfort of their own home. However, there can be a few pitfalls when studying online, namely the lack of camaraderie that students will generally get in an in-person learning environment and lack of face-to-face time with the instructor.

Create a regular learning schedule

In some cases, the instructor will set a specific timeline for when assignments need to be completed, while other classes are self-paced. It can be tempting for students to avoid their assignments in a self-paced course, ultimately extending the amount of time a student spends  within the course module. One way to prevent this is for students to create a regular learning schedule for themselves. For example, perhaps they sit down and work on their assignments every Thursday from 3:00 to 5:00. Even if there isn’t an instructor to enforce the schedule, good personal boundaries can help students be successful in this situation.

Join a virtual study group

Even if students are living in different parts of the state or country, they can still get together and study using virtual technology. It’s a great idea to join, or create, a virtual study group where students can meet in real time and discuss different aspects of an assignment or text that might be challenging. Meeting virtually also allows students to encourage each other and hold each other accountable when it comes to completing assignments successfully and on time.

 Work with a tutor

Students who struggle to set a regular schedule for themselves or who need a little extra help can also benefit by working one-on-one with their tutor. Whether their tutor meets with them in person or virtually, having that individual attention can help a student meet deadlines and  complete assignments successfully without adding too much stress to their day.

Reach out to the instructor

Some students learning in an online environment feel like the instructor is unreachable. Even though they’re not in the same room as their instructor, there are still ways to discuss material and understand assignments in a virtual setting. Ask the instructor what their virtual office hours are and what they should expect when it comes to email communication. Understanding when the instructor is available at the beginning of the class will help a student understand how quickly they will receive a response and how much time is allotted for individual students. 

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