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Self-Discipline 101 for Online Learning
Thirty years ago, the computer age was becoming a huge presence in the world. In fact, adults in the early 90’s visualized and were wowed by a magnificent “spider-like web” that was completely wrapping around the planet to transfer information to absolutely everyone. It was fascinating!
Fast forward three decades later, “Information Technology” (IT) is seen as the “norm” for people to work from home. Better yet, it has become especially efficacious for the online learning community. If you are excited about becoming one of those university online learners from home, there are some tenets that will be helpful.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Learning
Benefits of Online Learning
- Although there are deadlines, you can work at your own pace
- There are no travel or parking expenses to pay and you can attend class in your pajamas!
- The more you use technology, the more capable you become as IT continues to expand
- You are not tied to a specific class time and location
- Some online courses are more affordable than on-campus classes
Drawbacks of Online Learning
- First and foremost, online learning requires self-discipline and time management
- If you are not at least somewhat tech-savvy, it can be stressful and create havoc with anxiety
- For those students who crave one-on-one instruction and interpersonal contact, online learning may be difficult
- Students whose writing skills are limited may struggle more with the amount of composition required
- Motivation is not optional; motivation is key when attending online classes
Tips to Help Attain and Keep That Required Motivation
Let’s face it, if you know that your Psychology 301 class is meeting at 9:00 a.m. in Sturgeon Hall every Tuesday and Thursday, then you realize how important class attendance is. For every class you miss, you miss critical information and notes and that’s going to reflect on your exam scores and your final grade and GPA. Conversely, if an online Psychology class begins on a certain date and ends on a certain date and it’s up to you to sit down at your computer to read the syllabus, read required material, participate in online discussion rooms, turn in written assignments or papers, and ultimately take critical exams, yet there is no required structure other than the semester window (or weekly group participation requirements), it is obvious that this can be a recipe for disaster for the classic procrastinator or disorganized student.
Hence, here are some mandatory requirements for keeping great study habits and maintaining motivation for your online experience:
- First and foremost, designate a specific location with your computer, whether it be desktop or laptop, in which you will work. Do not make it the living room or TV room. If you need music or sound to focus, keep a radio in your work area. View this area as your work area and keep it that way.
- Make this area a positive one but not one that induces sleepiness or lethargy. Consider using essential oils such as peppermint or burning a candle. Design this area so that it is somewhere you want to be a few hours per week.
- As much as possible, set and structure a specific amount of time each day/week for class. If you must miss a certain time, then set a time to make it up.
- Make sure family and friends are on board. Put your phone AWAY and only answer if something appears to be an emergency.
- Schedule reasonable breaks. A typical class period is anywhere from :50 to 1:30. Hence, provide snack and/or meal times for yourself. Allow yourself beverages and/or healthful snacks, and even occasional candy. Research shows that peppermint enhances academic performance.
A Final Note
One of the greatest teachers in online learning is adjusting the experience to suit you; that is not always possible in the college classroom. If you are stuck on an assignment or task, by all means seek help from other students in the group or from the professor. Every higher learning institution offers a technology department that is paid to help you use your equipment. Embrace this opportunity and make it a great one.
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