Distance education offers a number of benefits for students, including the ability to create a schedule that accommodates your other responsibilities, such as work and family. It also helps students who have diverse learning styles and who don’t perform as well in a traditional classroom.
However, online learning can be tough on some students who need the flexibility but who also need the additional support that they might get in a traditional classroom. There are a few ways that you can have the best of both worlds by taking classes online but building a virtual support system for additional help. Here are a few ideas:
Communicate Regularly with the Instructor
In some online courses, you could go the whole term without ever “talking” to the instructor, either in person or online. You can have more communication with your instructor by being proactive. Send regular e-mails asking questions or checking in about your progress with the class. The more your instructor gets to know you, the easier it will be to offer you tailored feedback when needed.
Be an Active Participant in Student Forums
Online discussion is usually a requirement in distance education courses. Students must participate in virtual discussions through message boards and e-mail threads. Don’t put in the minimum amount needed for your “participation” grade. Take advantage of this opportunity to really engage with other students and to have meaningful conversations that can help you better understand the material.
Reach Out to Other Students
If you’re struggling with the material or you just want to make a virtual buddy, reach out to the other students in your class. Send an e-mail or a forum message asking your question or trying to get to know them better. Making a virtual friend will help when you have a question or you just want to brainstorm your ideas or even vent about your frustrations.
Start an Online Study Group
An online study group is a great way to connect with other students and to get support for your studies. Reach out to other students in your class or through distance education forums and create a regular virtual meeting time and place. Review lessons, prepare for tests, or just get answers to your questions. Be sure to set a schedule and an agenda for each of your meetings to ensure that you stay on track and that your study group is successful.
Creating a support system is essential for success as a student – and maybe even more so as an online student when you can sometimes feel isolated. Reaching out to your instructor and your peers using these methods can help you build a support system that will encourage your success and make your online education experience a more pleasant one.
How have you built an online support system as a distance education learner? Share your tips in the comments!
Lisa Shoreland is currently a resident blogger at Go college, where recently she’s been researching art scholarships. In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing and hogging her boyfriend’s PlayStation 3. To keep her sanity she enjoys practicing martial arts and bringing home abandon animals.