Taking Responsibility for Online Learning
LTU Online provides outstanding classes and highly qualified and engaged instructors to guide students through unique and valuable learning experiences. Students, of course, assume individual responsibility for their online learning.
Some people feel that online classes are "easy" because you do not have to commute to campus and attend a "same time, same place" class with your instructor and other students. However, students who have enrolled in rigorous online classes will tell you that they had to work harder in online classes to be successful. In general, successful online learners share these qualities:
- Participate! Log onto your online class web site every day. If you miss a day or two, it may be very difficult to catch up with the discussion and you may feel left behind. Contribute your ideas, perspective, and comments on the subject you are studying, and read about those of your classmates. Your instructor is not the only source of information in your course: you can gain great insight from your peers and they can learn from you as well. The testing and challenging of ideas is encouraged, so be prepared to accept friendly challenges from your colleagues and your instructor.
- Take your program and yourself seriously. Elicit the support of your colleagues, family, and friends before you start out on your online learning experience. This built-in support system will help you tremendously since there will be times when you will have to sit at your computer for several hours at a time in the evenings and on weekends.
- Make sure you have a private space where you can study. This will help lend importance to what you are doing as well. Your own space where you can shut the door, leave papers everywhere, and work in peace is necessary. If you try to share study space with the dining room or bedroom, food or sleep will take priority over studying.
- Be sure you have a capable and reliable computer environment at home and at work. Establish and maintain a smoothly functioning and secure working platform on a personal computer, including adequate backup procedures and virus protection. Be sure that you have all the appropriate productivity software loaded and up-to-date on your workstation. Work with an Internet Service Provider to establish and maintain a reliable Internet connection. Be sure that your workstation is able to receive e-mail and attachments from outside your home or workplace, and that any firewall issues are addressed.
- Be open-minded about sharing life, work, and educational experiences as part of the learning process. Introverts and extroverts find that online learning requires them to talk about their experiences. Sharing is made easier by the anonymity of the online environment.
- Think through ideas before responding. Meaningful and quality input into the online classroom is an essential part of the learning process. Time is given in the process to allow for the careful consideration of responses.
- Be willing to speak up if problems arise. Many of the nonverbal communication cues that instructors use to determine whether learners are having problems (confusion, frustration, boredom, etc.) are not possible in online classes. If you experience difficulty on any level (either with the technology or with the course content), you must communicate this immediately so your instructor will know that you are having difficulty.
- Take advantage of your online anonymity. One of the biggest advantages of the online format is that you can pursue your studies without the judgments typical in a traditional classroom. Unless you are using video conferencing, no one can see you - there are no stereotypes, and you don't have to be affected by raised eyebrows, rolled eyeballs, other students stealing your thunder, or people making other non verbal reactions to your contributions. You don't have to feel intimidated or upstaged by students who can speak faster than you because you can take all of the time you need to think your ideas through and compose a response before posting your comments to your class.
- Apply what you learn! LTU Online uses a "theory and practice" model for our online courses. If you are able to apply everything you learn as you learn it, you will remember it more readily. Take the things you learn in your online course today and use them in your workplace tomorrow. Also, try to make connections between what you are learning and what you do or will do in your job. Contributing advice or ideas about real world application of on-line learning will help both you and your colleagues.
- Become a true advocate of distance learning. Discuss the merits of the process with whoever will listen. In order to be successful in this educational environment, you must truly believe in its potential to provide quality education which is equal to, if not better than the traditional face-to-face environment. In discussing the value of online learning, you will reinforce its merits for yourself.
Finally, a few word about civility and professionalism. Unfortunately, some people become aggressive or disrespectful within the anonymity of an online class experience. Being polite and respectful to others is not only common sense, it is absolutely required for a productive and supportive online environment.. Remember, you are dealing with real people in your virtual classroom. In a positive online environment, you will feel valued by your instructor, valued by your classmates and your own work will have greater value as well. Read on to find out more about the topic of "netiquette" in hybrid and on-line classes.