How to Avoid Falling Behind in Your Online Classes.

how to avoid falling behind in online classesOnline classes are great for working adults who want to keep their jobs and earn a degree at the same time. However, the nature of online classes can make it easy to miss a lesson here or there or skip an assignment. Every misstep can add up to an ultimate F in the class. Before you get too far into the semester, make sure to take our advice on how to avoid falling behind in your online classes:

  • Put it on your calendar: Sure, you have a digital syllabus, but you probably aren’t checking it for due dates when you make appointments or schedule work meetings. Once you get a syllabus, make sure to input every single due date into your digital calendar so that you will always be alerted when an upcoming assignment is due. The old “I forgot” excuse is officially obsolete, and your instructors know it. This also helps you avoid over-booking yourself when you need extra time to prepare for an exam or write a paper.
  • Get your household on board: Your family members don’t necessarily need to know when every discussion post is due, but they should have a heads up about major tests and assignments. If you have a family calendar, put those dates up there so that your spouse and/or kids know when you need extra time to study or write a paper. If your spouse operates digitally, make some time now to go through all those dates together so s/he can input them into a calendar. This simple but important step can save a lot of headaches down the road.
  • Ask for help from your instructor: Instructors prefer that you adhere to deadlines and generally enforce strict policies for late work, but at the same time they’re human. If you have a good track record but happen to fall behind for one reason or another, send an email to your instructor. You will probably still have to pay the penalty for late work, but s/he will appreciate the heads up. If something more serious has come up that will affect several assignments, ask your instructor what you can do to get everything turned in and keep your grade up. Instructors are often willing to offer extensions when they are asked directly. They just don’t like to advertise this to the hundreds of students they teach each semester for obvious reasons.

Don’t fall behind this semester! Take these steps to stay on top of your online class and earn the grade you deserve. For more tips on how to stay organized when taking online classes, contact us.

Tips For How to Stay Organized in the Online Classroom

Keeping everything organized in college is hard to do, but for students who are taking online courses and thus never set foot in an actual classroom organization can be both a requirement and a nightmare. To stay on top of online coursework though it’s important for students to take these tips to heart.

How to Stay Organized in the Online Classroomhow to stay organized in the online classroom

Tip#1: Make Your Calendar Functions Your Friend

In the old days you could pin a calendar to the wall over your desk and mark out all of your goals and needs on it. An overview of the month let you see when tests were, when assignments were due, etc. While that still works it’s also possible to use a smartphone to set reminders so that tests and due dates don’t sneak up on you. Sit down with your syllabus and plot out the semester to make sure you know what it is due when.

Tip #2: Ignorance of The Course is No Excuse

When you first sign up for a course, whether it’s online or in-person, the teacher is going to give you a syllabus. Don’t just toss it in a drawer sight-unseen; read it. If you know what’s on the syllabus then you’re never going to be surprised when a test or quiz shows up. You’ll understand how you’re going to be graded, and you’ll know about big projects you need to complete from day one. While you might not know all of the material required for the course, you do know the date you’re expected to learn it by.

Tip #3: Make A Friend

While never actually spending time in a physical classroom is one of the big benefits of online courses, it can also be a problem if you attempt to tackle everything by yourself. If you make friends with someone taking the same course that you are it becomes easier to stay on track and keep to deadlines. It’s like having a workout buddy; even when you don’t want to crack the books or you forgot what day it is your friend will be there to help keep both of you on the road to success.

Tip #4: Make it a Priority

Life is complicated, and things happen. If you want to succeed with your online course though you need to make your education a priority and put your nose to the grind stone. There’s no two ways about it; dedication and attention to detail pays off.

For more information on how you can succeed in your online courses simply contact us today!

10 New Year’s Resolutions for Success in the Online Classroom

We make resolutions every year to tackle a variety of different issues–weight loss, improved health, better performance at work… Resolutions are made to help improve areas of difficulty or struggle. Online schooling requires a degree of discipline that can be difficult to maintain. So why not try making New Year’s resolutions for online success? Check out these ten resolutions for success in your online classroom:

new years resolutions for online success1. I will live by the syllabus. The syllabus is your most important tool in an online course. Most teachers create a very detailed syllabus that outlines each assignment. The syllabus will help you stay on track and complete assignments on time. The biggest mistake online students make is to simply skim the syllabus and then forget about it.

2. I will embrace my strengths. Let’s face it–highlighting big chunks of text and committing them to memory is not for everyone. Think outside the box when it’s time to study. Are you a visual learner? Does music help you study? Consider your strengths when developing a study plan. You are much more likely to retain information if it is presented in a way that you enjoy. Try this quiz to determine your learning style and learn helpful tips about studying.

3. I will learn how to use online tools. Thoroughly read through the instructor’s list of classroom tools. Become familiar with each tool by going through it extensively and learning exactly how it works. Taking a little extra time to explore these elements can be a lifesaver. You will use many of the same core tools for different courses and you will become proficient in their use over time.

4. I will become a master of time management. Many online students find that time management is one of their biggest challenges. Online courses are a great choice for students with a very busy lifestyle–they may have children and a full-time career, leaving little time for attending a traditional bricks-and-mortar school. The opportunity to attend class from your own home is very convenient, but it also requires strict discipline. Developing a plan to manage your time (and sticking to it) is essential for success in online classes. You have to create schedules to help juggle your daily commitments and prepare for unexpected occurrences that will affect your class time. For example, if your assignments are always due on Sundays, and your children have loads of activities on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, you should plan to have assignments completed no later than Wednesday of each week. Download an app that allows access to your classroom discussions in case of emergencies that keep you away from your computer. Mobile access to your classroom can come in handy.

5. I will participate in discussion. Discussion questions and participation are often a large part of your final grade in an online course. Since you are not attending a class in person, your contributions to discussions are the only way an instructor can gauge your participation. Treat these discussions as important as assignments, and be sure to respond with thought-provoking messages–avoid quick replies such as “I agree” or “I disagree”.

6. I will be ambitious. Online learning is challenging, and requires patience, stamina, and ambition. You must stay motivated in order to be successful. The last thing you want to do after a long day at work is to sit in front of the computer screen again–this is a difficulty that many students face. It is important to think often about the outcome of your online learning. You may be working toward obtaining a degree so you can finally find a job you truly love. Your degree might mean more income to ease financial stress. Think about your long-term goals whenever you feel yourself losing motivation.

7. I will not be afraid to ask for help. Some people don’t like to ask for help. They see it as a sign of weakness, or they are afraid of looking unintelligent. You will have to ask for help when you are attending online school. You will need help both in your courses and at home–everyone does. There will be some assignments that you just don’t understand, and you can ask your instructor or classmates for help. There will be times when you need to ask a family member to step up and help you with something around the house so that you can meet a deadline for class. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak–it makes you smart.

8. I will learn effective online communication. Online communication is quite different from face-to-face communication, and most people don’t realize this until they take an online course. Face-to-face communication involves more than just spoken words. You are able to read body language and facial expressions, which are both quite helpful in understanding someone’s message. Online communication relies mostly on words (although in some cases emoticons are used). This is very important to remember, because people may not be able to pick up on things like sarcasm or playful tones. Your messages must be very clear and concise and always avoid ambiguous wording.

9. I will not overburden myself. Online courses often require even more time than a traditional college course, so it is important to start slowly. Try one or two courses when you begin online schooling, until you become accustomed to it. You may decide that you can handle more, but you’ll probably find that one or two courses at once fits in well with your schedule.

10. I will create a “study” spot for myself. Most people have a specific environment that enables concentration and fosters creativity. Create a specific “study” spot in your home. You may be able to better concentrate in a quiet atmosphere, or you may find too much quiet distracting. Consider your personal preferences, and find a spot that works best for you.

Attending school online is challenging, and it is often difficult to stay motivated and avoid stress. Online learning is also very rewarding, and skills learned online can be immediately applied to the real world. Please contact us for more information regarding online classroom success.

How to Improve Your Concentration During Study Time With 4 Simple Strategies

Concentrating in our frenetic world is challenging. Getting away from it all and finding time to focus is next to impossible. Between cell phones, tablets, laptops, gaming consoles, email alerts and hectic schedules, sometimes it’s a wonder that we find time to breathe. Everywhere you turn, there’s another story of a relationship dissolving, jobs lost, opportunities missed or health suffering from that stress and inability to mentally escape and focus.

If finding time to concentrate on the little things like planning a vacation or building a budget is hard, is it any wonder that students everywhere are looking for solutions and strategies focused on how to improve your concentration during study time?

how to improve your concentration during study timeConcentration is a Struggle for Most Students

It’s a serious problem, and one with dangerous side effects in the student community, problems that go beyond sleepless nights and stressed out days. In a 2011 study published in The Journal of Physician Assistant Education, more than 10% of the students studied reported having misused prescription stimulants to boost their academic performance. Of those, more than 90% said that their primary goal was to boost concentration or focus. The struggle is real.

Fortunately, you don’t have to resort to dangerous or illegal activities to give yourself an academic edge. Simply realizing that concentration isn’t just a want, but an actual need, can work wonders for prioritizing focus and concentration. Here are four more tips and tactics for improving concentration, not only during study time but in the rest of your life as well.

Simple Strategy #1: Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

It seems like the whole world wants us to drink more water. Recent studies are lending weight to that argument in a very specific way. In 2012, The Journal of Nutrition released a study that showed that even mild dehydration led to marked inattention. One of the most significant impacts of this study is that the inattention set in long before feelings of thirst were felt. That means you don’t actually have to feel thirsty for dehydration to already have started waging war with your mental acumen. Before your designated study time (which we’ll discuss in a bit more detail next), drink 16-24 ounces of water.

Simple Strategy #2: Create a Fairly Rigid Routine

Whether we like it or not, humans are creatures of habit. The more habitual something is, the more ingrained it gets into our character and behavior. If you struggle with focus or concentration, you need to carve out a solid block of time on your schedule that’s dedicated to cracking the books, taking notes and other study-related tasks.

Be realistic as you carve out this block. Make sure it won’t interfere with things that will cause distractions. This means not just isolating yourself and going hermit style, but also not missing out on activities or events that will distract you to the point of absolute frustration. Once you designate that block, stick to it – religiously. If you have to, institute a system of punishments and rewards to keep you accountable.

Simple Strategy #3: Have a Study Agenda in Place

Studying means different things to different people. The demands of one class might greatly exceed the demands of another. This means you’ll need to create custom strategies and objectives for each class and give them designated blocks of your scheduled study time. A lot of students have a hard time getting in the “groove” of their study mojo. If you dedicate the first 15 minutes of your study time towards creating an agenda of which classes you’re going to tackle, which chapters you have to read, which assignments you have to complete and a deadline to get it done in, you can get your mind in gear and have a clear task laid out before. Just knowing the lay of a battlefield can tremendously boost your chances of success.

Simple Strategy #4: Get Physical!

In her book, The Charisma Myth, author Olivia Fox Cabane comments, “If we’re not stimulated after a short period of time, we look around for something that will do the job. This is true whether we’re reading a dull news story or involved in a conversation.” Part of this is due to how active we are mentally. There’s always a new tweet or status update or group discussion on LinkedIn going on. The Internet never sleeps, and now, neither are we! If we’re not stimulated, our brains wonder all over the place. Olivia recommends activity as simple as just wiggling your toes or rolling your foot at the ankle.

Need more tips on being a better student? It’s one of our specialties. We design courses for new students as well as working professionals earning new credentials or enhancing their current skill set. Find out more by visiting our website or contact us today for specific strategies and recommendations.

Tricks For How to Master Technology in the Online Learning Environment

One of the uses of modern technology is online learning, which is a fancy way of saying taking classes via the Internet. While there are huge benefits to online learning (schedule flexibility, no need to show up to a physical classroom, lower cost, etc.) getting the most out of these classes requires familiarity with the technology in question. If students aren’t the most tech-savvy though there are several ways to make sure that doesn’t stand in the way of getting a good grade.

How to Master Technology in the Online Learning Environmenthow to master technology in the online learning environment

Tip One: Read The Instructions

While it sounds like a no-brainer the instruction manual is something that few students ever read when it comes to their technology. Whether it’s a webcam or the school’s online blackboard take some time to read over the guide for how it works and what all the different functions do. This might not answer all of your questions, but it will make the overall process that much easier on you.

Tip Two: Ask For Assistance

While it’s sometimes galling to admit you need help it’s better to do it sooner rather than later. It’s equally important to knowwhom to ask for help though. If your school has a help desk then that’s a good place to start. If there’s a school website check and see if there’s a forum where other students could explain the technology to you. If you have contact information for other students in your class ask if they could help you overcome the issues you’re having. Sometimes all it takes is having someone there to give you the play-by-play before it all clicks into place.

Tip Three: Don’t Wait

While it’s possible to put off figuring out new technology during your semester, especially if you can just get the information you need from a classmate, it’s important to put your nose to the grindstone from day one. What might be an awkward program that you gradually learn to use over the semester can become a nightmare if you try to master it just before your big project is due.

Tip Four: Don’t Focus on Shortcuts

You know when you were in math class and you had to learn the long-form way to do a problem before the teacher would show you the quick and dirty way to do it? Mastering technology is kind of like that. While it’s possible to hit a few hot keys to perform a complex command it’s a better idea to learn how to do it the long way first. If you feel that you’ve achieved a certain mastery of the tech in question then you can learn how to take all of the shortcuts to get from point A to point B.

For more information regarding online learning and how you can make your experience that much easier on yourself simply contact us today!