Online students are independent learners who must discipline themselves to complete their coursework within the specified time requirements and seek assistance when necessary. Below are some suggestions to help online students successfully complete their courses.
- Studies have shown that students are more likely to learn when they feel a part of a community. Distance education does not have to mean isolation. You may not be able to interact in person with the instructor or the other students, but you can still communicate with them. We encourage the following practices:
- Participate! Join the discussions or chat rooms that are set up for your course.
- Be open-minded about sharing. Introduce yourself; offer your views; share your experiences.
- Take advantage of your online anonymity. No one can see you; you won't be judged on your appearance; you don't have to feel intimidated or upstaged, so join in the communication; however, don't use the anonymity factor to be rude online. Be professional in your conduct.
- Ask for help when you need it. E-mail your instructor, or ask your classmates.
- If something in the course content is unclear or if information seems to be missing, get in touch with your instructor.
- Keep in touch with your instructor. Regularly send in assignments, comments, and questions.
Recent studies indicate that distance learners tend to be working parents. Even if you do not fit this typical profile, you still have many priorities on your agenda. Here are some suggestions to help you organize and schedule your time.
- Begin your course right away.
- Try to spend some time on your course everyday.
- Create a realistic schedule and stick to it. For example, plan to study from 9 P.M. to 11 P.M. after the children have gone to bed.
- Make sure others are aware of your schedule so you are not constantly interrupted.
- Create a comfortable working atmosphere with all the materials you'll need at hand; otherwise, you may be wasting valuable time adjusting poor light, eliminating loud noise, looking for missing articles such as pens, paper, cassette players and so on.
- Make yourself a "To Do" list with the most pressing issues at the top of the list.
- Check your course calendar regularly to make sure you don't miss deadlines, online instructor time, group discussions and so on.
- Schedule breaks during your study time. You need to refresh yourself.
- Keep your life balanced including time for other important things such as family and recreation.
- Be prepared for the unexpected. If your computer crashes, your assignment attachment gets misdirected etc. have a back up plan. Keep extra copies of your work, back up all computer work on disks, have other activities to do if you can't access online content and so on.
Preparing for and Taking Exams
Reactions to examinations vary considerably with individuals. Some students approach examinations with considerable anxiety, possibly based on previous negative experiences. They may also consider themselves to be poor examination takers. Such perceptions can contribute to self-fulfilling prophecies. On the other hand, some students see examinations as a challenge or a chance to prove themselves. Examinations should be approached as an opportunity to contribute to your learning and as an aid to help you focus and tie things together from the course.
Like most things, you will find that you do much better if you prepare well in advance rather than try to cram at the last minute. Following are a few suggestions to help you make the most of your examinations:
- Don't wait until the last minute to prepare. Set aside a few minutes of each session for a mini review of the previous session. Use the questions you develop in your reading, listening, and note taking exercises to quiz yourself. Studying in a relaxed atmosphere, instead of in a cramming situation, will allow for a gradual assimilation of the knowledge that is likely to stay with you. Review sample exam questions if available.
- Try to be in good physical and emotional health when you sit for your exam. Get plenty of rest, eat a healthy meal, and don't take medications that may leave you feeling drowsy.
- Scan the exam before you begin so you can plan your time. Allow time for planning and proofreading at the end.
- Spend time on questions according to their proportional value. For example, spend more time thinking about and writing for a question worth 10 marks than for a question worth 2 marks.
- Answer the questions for which you feel more confident first. This will help you to become involved quickly in the exam and you will progress more rapidly.
- Thoroughly read each question before answering it so you will not miss any parts.
- Leave space at the end of your answers in case you think of something else later that you want to add.
- If you are stuck on a question, don't panic. Move on to another question. Ideas may come to you when you are working on other responses. If this happens, jot the ideas in the margin of the appropriate question as they come to you.
- If you do not have enough time left to respond to all the questions, write the outline or point form of what you would write. The instructor may give you partial marks.
- Reread your examination paper for errors and clarity. Think about the person who will be marking the work. Will he or she know what you mean? Is it legible? Etc.
- Guess at answers you don't know only if guesses won't be penalized. For example, in selected response type questions such as multiple choice or true/false, some instructors deduct marks for wrong answers meaning if you left the question blank, you get zero, but if you guessed a wrong answer, you get -1.
Exams are individual to the course. Some Online@UNB exams are online, others are written. When you are ready to write your exam, use the Exam Request Form to contact the Online@UNB Program Assistant to make the appropriate arrangements.
Independent Study Checklist
Here is a quick checklist of traits found in successful independent learners:
- Express thoughts in writing
- Communicate online with others by posting messages in newsgroups, participating in chat rooms, or sending e-mails.
- Accept responsibility for their own learning
- Create and stick to a schedule
- Assertively seek help when necessary
- Manage time and organize priorities
- Enjoy challenge of self directed learning
- Dedicate several hours per week to studies
- Accept constructive criticism
- Rely on self for motivation and discipline
- Apply new skills and information
- Assess their learning styles
- Adapt alternate learning styles to their own styles
- Complete what they start such as an independent study course
- Create notes from material read
- Are goal directed
- Work independently
- Have a willingness to learn new technology
If you have any questions about UNB Online, please contact the program assistant.