Distance learning has become an increasingly popular option for busy individuals. Learning in the comfort of your own home and not having to travel to attend classes are some reasons why people opt to study from home. Whether you’ve signed up for courses to improve your English or to take an elective in university, here are some helpful tips to make distance learning work for you.
Create a timetable and stick to it
Time management is crucial when embarking on a distance learning course. While you may save time on travelling to and from classes, bear in mind that you will still need to commit the same amount of time studying and preparing for the course.
Create a timetable upon receiving your course outline. You will have to allocate time for attending online lectures (if there are any), reading course materials, participating in discussions on message boards and forums, reviewing before a test or exam and finally, for working on assignments. You will probably have to work on your distance learning course in chunks. This is also a good time to set SMART goals.
Always be aware of upcoming tests and assignments. Remembering those important dates can be tricky since you are not in a classroom environment. Looking for apps that can help you keep track of those important dates and notes? Try out myhomeworkapp and Evernote which are both free and work on most devices.
Know what tools and materials are needed before the course begins.
Some distance learning courses may require you to download and install certain apps or tools on your computer which will then be used as part of the learning experience. Read the course outline carefully for instructions and should any issues arise, contact your instructor. You may also need to buy reading materials. However, some materials may be optional. It might be worthwhile to borrow them from the library.
You might also need to register for a course website which will have more information on the course itself. It is a good idea to set aside time before the course begins to make sure you have everything you need before starting your course.
Get to know your instructor and course mates
Distance learning courses can seem isolating at times. You do not get to meet the people who are part of your course like you would in a conventional classroom. It takes a little more work to connect with others but it will be well worth the time! Your instructor will be the go-to person for clarifying any issues you may have. Make note of the different ways your instructor can be contacted. If a discussion forum is available, participate and share your opinions or experiences relating to the course. You may post queries and also help others when there are questions about the course content. Being an active participant will help motivate you and make the course less monotonous.
Keep track of your progress
Make note of your progress as you receive the grades for any tests or assignments. If you find yourself struggling with certain concepts or sections of the course, contact your instructor immediately. It would be useful to re-assess your SMART goals for the course at the half-way point. Are you comfortable with the schedule you set up at the beginning of the course? Do you need to commit more time to studying? Review your goals and time commitments for the course and adjust as necessary.
Keep distractions to a minimum
Part of the appeal of distance learning courses is the option to study from the comfort of one’s home. However, those comforts may be a huge distraction and can affect your ability to successfully complete the course! For some, the television is a huge distraction. For others, it may be the computer or the warm, comfy bed.
Pick a quiet and uncluttered spot (which is hopefully far away from your distractions!) for studying. The Pomodoro Technique might be helpful if you are having a problem managing your time and focusing on the tasks at hand. It might take a while to get used to distance learning but once you’ve successfully completed one course, you’ll be well-equipped for more!
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