Online learning has become a popular alternative to traditional in-person courses. With so many options available, it’s easy to be intimidated by the prospect of taking a course online. But with the right preparation and attitude, you can tackle an online class with ease and confidence.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways that you can prepare for an online course before diving in headfirst. If you’re feeling nervous about taking an online course or haven’t done so in a while, read on for more details about how to prepare for an online class.
Know what to expect from an online class
Online courses are different from in-person courses in some key ways, but many of the same expectations still apply.
It’s important to remember that the quality of an online course is heavily dependent on the professor’s teaching abilities and your own commitment to learning and following directions. That said, you should only pay for the best online live streaming platform for education and get the most value.
That doesn’t mean online classes are less valuable than in-person ones—it just means you should be prepared for certain differences.
Professors are not there for feedback. One of the most significant differences between online and in-person courses is the lack of daily feedback from the professor and other students. In an online course, you’ll likely have no opportunity to ask your professor questions or request feedback on your work.
For this reason, it’s crucial to read the syllabus and course description carefully and make sure you understand exactly what is expected of you as a student.
Students manage their own time. In an online class, you’ll likely have no daily structure and no clear way to communicate with your classmates. But these are often advantages since you’ll have total control over when you study and how often you stay on top of the course materials.
Materials are often digital. Another significant difference between online and in-person courses is that online materials are almost always digital. This means that you’ll be reading and writing on a screen for your coursework, which can take some getting used to.
You can’t rely on face-to-face interactions. Finally, it’s important to remember that interactions with your classmates and the professor are not the same as in an in-person course.
Read the syllabus and course description
It might sound obvious, but it’s crucial to read the syllabus and course description carefully and thoroughly. Not only will these materials let you know exactly what you should be doing in each course session, but they’ll also help you get familiar with the professor’s teaching style and expectations for the class.
You should also pay attention to what you’re responsible for bringing to the course, such as any required reading materials or additional online resources.
Research the professor and subject matter
As with any in-person class, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the professor’s background and previous research. You can do this by reading the professor’s bio on the course syllabus or on their university website.
If you’re taking a graduate-level course, you’ll also want to familiarize yourself with the subject matter. This isn’t always necessary if you’re taking the class as a requirement for your major, but it can definitely help you stay on top of the materials if you’re taking the course for pleasure.
Find the right learning tools
Online courses often require you to use online tools for everything from team projects to note-taking and quizzes. It’s important to find the right online tools for the course you’re taking, and most universities will provide information about which tools you should use.
For example, if you’re taking an online writing course, you might use the collaborative tool Google Docs to share writing assignments with your classmates. If you’re taking an online statistics course, you might use the statistics program R to complete your assignments.
Watch the lecture videos ahead of time
Depending on the type of online course you’re taking, you might be able to watch all. Or watch part of the course lecture videos ahead of time. For example, you can often find videos on the syllabus or on the professor’s course page.
You should definitely watch any mandatory videos before the course begins. Since you’ll want to be familiar with the professor’s teaching style and background.
And if you can watch some of the videos beforehand, you’ll have even more time to review a few days before the course begins.
Join the class’s Discussions and Q&A
Many online classes offer Discussions and/or an online Q&A section as ways to foster communication between students. If your professor provides either of these forums, you should definitely join them and become an active and helpful member.
You might also consider reaching out to your classmates directly outside of these forums if you feel like you need extra help. After all, you have nothing to lose from asking for help from your classmates.
Ask your classmates for help
Asking for help can be intimidating, but it’s an important part of the online learning experience. It’s often easier to reach out to your classmates for help because you can do it in your own time and way.
You can definitely use one of the course’s communication options to reach out to your classmates. But you might also want to consider using a public forum like Reddit to get help.
Online courses are a great way to learn and advance your career, but they require some preparation. Not only do you need to find the right online course, you also need to make sure you’re ready to take it.
It’s important to know what to expect from online learning, what requirements are necessary, and how to prepare for an online course. With the right preparation, online learning can be a very rewarding experience that is convenient for almost everyone.