Online learning can be quite different from traditional in-person education, and with it comes a few unique challenges. But don’t let that discourage you! In this article, we’ll take a look at four challenges of online learning so you can recognize them and possibly apply a few of these strategies when they pop up during your academic journey.
1. Time Management
The flexibility and convenience of online classes entice many people to pursue online education. It’s a great option for people who are already juggling a life full of work, family, and other responsibilities. But even with online education, it can be difficult to fit learning sessions and class assignments into your already busy schedule. Without proper time management, you can easily fall behind in your classes, which adds additional – and unnecessary – stress to your life.
With a few simple action items, you can be well on your way to better managing your time like a pro.
- Plan your schedule at the beginning of each week. Find times where you can fit in some studying and practice, even if it’s just a few minutes each day.
- Minimize distractions. It can be tempting to scroll on social media or stream your favorite TV series in the background while doing homework on your computer, but don’t do it! Find ways to block out these and any other distractions that could waste your time. Alternatively, rewarding yourself with these activities can motivate you to power through your academic tasks.
- Create to-do lists. Plan out each assignment or topic you need to study in the current week. Break down large projects into smaller subtasks; this can help you accomplish the whole task much more effectively.
It can be difficult to keep your motivation going when your classes are online and there’s no one there to hold you accountable. It’s too easy to procrastinate and lose motivation when the responsibility to learn lies largely on your shoulders. You can start a class with enthusiasm and excitement, only to lose sight of your goals and quickly lose momentum.
So how do you find the motivation to keep going? Here are some tips:
- Set achievable goals. If you find yourself failing to reach certain goals, take a step back. Have you set the right goals? If not, take this chance to re-establish your purpose and smaller goals that are more easily achievable.
- Remind yourself of your ambitions. Why did you decide to go to school in the first place? Write down your reasons for attending school, put the list somewhere visible, and read it often.
- Stick to your schedule. Don’t give into the temptation of procrastination – it will only set you back. Try to avoid distractions that could disrupt your schedule too; those can make it that much harder to get going again.
3. Computer Literacy
When you attend school online, you’ll have to use a computer. Sure, that sounds pretty obvious, but there’s more to it – you need to actually be proficient with the technology you’re using. You’ll also need to familiarize yourself with your online learning management system, download course materials, and utilize basic software to complete assignments.
Even if you already have basic computer skills, there are a few other things you need to be aware of in case you run into problems:
- Pay attention to the submission requirements. Your instructor may ask you to submit a specific file type, like a PDF, Word document, or HTML file. They may also want you to use a specific kind of naming convention, so make sure you read the instructions thoroughly.
- Determine what software you need ahead of time. Don’t be late to a class session because you haven’t already downloaded Zoom. Most courses and programs have a list of the required software you’ll need so you can make sure everything’s downloaded and installed prior to the time of the class session.
- Contact a support center when problems occur. Even the most tech-savvy people are bound to run into problems they don’t know how to fix. Make sure you have the helpline information for your computer and any of the programs you have installed. Check with your school to see if they have a technical support center that can also provide assistance.
Online education can sometimes leave you feeling isolated. After all, you don’t have a classroom or in-person classmates to keep you engaged. Not having that kind of support can quickly lead to a lack of motivation and falling behind in your coursework. Staying engaged is also crucial for maintaining your educational momentum and achieving educational success since a lack of engagement in one course can turn into less engagement in your next courses.
If you find yourself feeling disconnected, consider the following suggestions:
- Communicate with your classmates. This could be through email, a chat on your learning management system, or with a group on social media. Whichever form of communication you use, the point is to find an easy way to connect with your classmates. Some of them might also be feeling disconnected, so take the initiative and reach out yourself.
- Make sure your instructors know who you are. Be sure to include your name in every email or message you send them. You might even consider giving them some updates on your life every now and then – personally and professionally – if you feel so inclined.
- Participate in class discussions early on. It’s easy to sit back in a class and not say anything, and virtually it’s also easy to avoid things like discussion boards. You might think you have nothing to gain from either of them. But speaking up and starting a conversation is a great way to feel connected and even learn new concepts.
Online learning can certainly have its drawbacks, but overall, it can be a convenient way to learn. And since online classes are so readily accessible to more people than ever before, there are plenty of chances to take courses on the web. Using the tips provided above will help you make sure you’re getting the most out of your virtual learning experience.
Interested in finding an online education program with built-in support and flexibility? Then look no further than the ThriveDX Cybersecurity Professional Bootcamp, or any ThriveDX-powered program. Our courses are designed to help online learners of any background – whether you’re new to technology or you’ve been using it for ages, we’re here to help you learn all you can for a successful career. That’s because at ThriveDX, we’re all about Empowering Your Future.