Getting the Hang of Distance Learning
As education becomes more technical and Internet-based, the classic images of being in a classroom are changing. Gone are the desks, chalkboards, lecture halls, bright fluorescent lights, and sounding bells.
Distance education allows students the freedom to maintain the tradition of sitting at a desk…but in the comfort of their own home.
While distance learning is a flexible option for students of all ages, it takes time to adjust to learning in front of a computer screen versus a professor in a classroom. Getting used to the online learning experience takes practice. See how you’re adjusting to distance learning by reviewing the three essential questions.
What Do you Know?
After completing a handful of classes and assignments, students have had an opportunity to gain new skills or knowledge. Take a moment to reflect on the terms, processes, ideas, or theories that resonate from class and homework to help you determine if you’re getting the hang of online learning. Are you able to list off 3-8 new ideas or topics from your courses? If so, this likely indicates you are transitioning smoothly into the virtual classroom. The more advanced student will be able to have a 10-20 minute discussion about what the courses are covering.
What’s your Routine?
Do you know the class schedule? Are you aware of due dates? Are days/times selected for studying and completing homework on a weekly basis?
Establishing and following a consistent daily or weekly routine demonstrates students are adjusting well and learning the ropes of distance education. Forgetting about class or handing in late assignments may indicate more time is needed to overcome the struggles associated to virtual learning. Feel as if you’re running around in a frenzy? If so, it’s time to reevaluate your routine.
What is your Level of Interaction?
Interacting with other students boosts learning. The frequency and depth of interacting with others can also signify the level of ease with online learning. Students who are comfortable posting to online discussion boards and chat rooms are likely getting the hang of learning at a distance. They tend to know how to navigate the computer and virtual classroom.
For those who shy away from posting or just post the minimal course requirements, more time may be needed to get the hang of distance learning. Posting your ideas and opinions more frequently may help you get into the virtual groove. When these interactions feel like clockwork to you, put some thought into your posts. Thoughtful posts will not only stir engaging discussions, but it will enhance your learning and impress your professor.
Considering these three questions will help determine if you are getting the hang of distance learning. Discouraged? Don’t give up quite yet! Keep trying to gain a sense of how you can benefit and advance as a distance learner before calling it quits. Here are some ideas:
- Get a grasp on the information presented in class by researching the topics beyond the course requirements.
- Lacking a routine? Commit to start a daily routine and reward yourself when you follow it for one full week.
- Dreading the thought of interacting with students or teachers? Practice makes perfect. Use the edgab forums to practice until a sense of comfort sets in. Taking a computer class will also help reduce fears associated with chat rooms and discussion boards.