How To Get The Most Out Of Your Online Courses
Updated: Dec 23, 2022
Online courses are a great option for many students, but the learning environment is quite different from in-person courses. As both a student who has taken online courses and an assistant instructional designer who helps build online courses at the U of R, here are some of my top tips for how to get the most out of your online courses.
Familiarize Yourself with UR Courses
If it’s your first time taking online courses take a tour of our online learning platform UR Courses. Checking out the features and seeing how everything works in advance can help you get the hang of the platform quickly; this will minimize time and frustration when looking for course materials and deadlines, submitting assignments, accessing quizzes and exams, contacting your instructor and more. Even if you’ve taken online courses before, it’s a good idea to browse your courses once you gain access to see what’s involved in each one.
Engage with Your Classmates and Instructor
Even though you’re going to class virtually you can still make connections with your fellow students. Write a profile bio for your classmates to read so they can get to know you when your course starts. Be active with them in discussion forums. Ask classmates to form a virtual or in-person study group. These are great ways for building new friendships both near and far.
When you need help, your instructor is there to support you. It’s important to reach out when you need it. Talk to your instructor during their virtual office hours or send an email. Many instructors are available by phone as well.
Connecting with your instructor and classmates throughout your online course will have a positive impact on your experience and level of success.
Set up a Schedule
Having flexibility to decide when you watch a lecture or read a course unit is amazing. But, it also makes procrastination very easy. Keep yourself on track by setting up a weekly schedule to complete your course work. By the end of the course you’ll be happy you stayed on top of things!
When you’re listening to lectures or reading course materials make sure you’re actively trying to learn. We’ve all had the issue where we start reading, and then suddenly we’re two pages in and have no idea what we just read. To help keep yourself engaged look for at least one key point. By actively trying to find the most important point you’ll pay more attention and be likely to retain more than just that one piece of information.
Taking online courses usually involves being closer to distractions. You may find it helpful to turn off your phone (or even just notifications) or work in space away from common distractions. At the end of the day distractions are always just one click away. Try to push yourself to focus so you can maximize your productivity.
Learn the Way that Works Best for You
Online courses feel quite different from in-person courses so it’s tempting to do things differently because you think you should. I have good news! You don’t have to! If taking notes is what works best for you then keep taking notes. If you find study groups helpful, reach out to your fellow classmates to make one. Continue to do whatever works best for you!
Reach Out if You’re Having Technical Issues
Like any online software platform, technical issues can happen with UR Courses. If you experience any with your online course I recommend taking a look at the UR Courses Student Guides. Alternatively, feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns.
Enjoy the Benefits of Online Courses
Online courses are a bit of a luxury. They often don’t have live sessions, and there’s no commute to class. You can do everything from the comfort of your own home. And, they’re flexible so you can go to class whenever, wherever you want. You can save a lot of time and money while having flexibility to balance work and personal life with your online courses. Enjoy the perks!
About Josh Duczek
Josh is a U of R Bachelor of Arts (Economics) student. He started working for the Flexible Learning Division as a co-op student from September 2019-April 2020 and then took a position as a full-time assistant instructional designer in August 2020.
Learn more about online courses and other flexible course options at the U of R.