5 Essential Online Learning Strategies
Online learning environment can seem intimidating to students who haven’t tried it. But, according to Dr. Jennifer Bachner, Program Coordinator of the AAP Government Program, online learning isn’t much different than a classroom. By employing a few essential strategies, any student can learn not only to succeed, but to flourish in the online learning environment.
Top 5 strategies for success in online learning:
Devote consistent blocs of time to the class. Online courses are often attractive to students because they offer flexibility, particularly for those with demanding professional or personal responsibilities. This flexibility, however, can lead students into trouble. It can be tempting for students to delay working through the course material, thinking they’ll find time later in the week. But online coursework is like exercise – you never find the time for it, you make the time for it. Schedule consistent, multi-hour blocks of time during the week that you can devote to coursework and adhere rigidly to this schedule. The lack of regular class meetings is more (not less) reason to establish a consistent work schedule for yourself.
Communicate regularly with the professor. Opening and using these lines of communication will benefit you both during and beyond the course. During the course, it’s important to ask questions when the material or assignments are unclear and discuss larger assignments such as research papers. Use the mode of communication preferred by the instructor (e.g. email, Skype, phone) but don’t shrink away from these conversations. Students who fail to get their questions answered and concerns addressed often fall behind quickly and significantly. Moreover, establishing a working relationship with your instructor is essential for expanding your professional network and developing a list of references you can use for career purposes.
Engage with your classmates. Don’t limit your discussion postings to responding to the prompts posted by the instructor. Add your own insights and questions to the discussion. I always appreciate when students post a relevant news article or scholarly publication they’ve come across. These contributions help other students relate the course material to the real world and other areas of study. In addition, share appropriate information about yourself, such as your career interests and other courses you’ve enjoyed. Like your instructor, you should consider your classmates to be part of your professional network, and you should cultivate relationships with them.
Begin your work early. In an online class, particularly for first-time students, there may be technical difficulties to overcome. Take the risk of these difficulties into account, and give yourself time to acclimate to new software and hardware. Further, give your instructors a reasonable amount of time to answer your questions. In an online class, exchanging emails or arranging phone conversations takes time. In short, expect that you will encounter hurdles when completing the work and leave yourself time to overcome them.
Remember that online classes vary greatly. Just as with on-the-ground classes, there are many ways to design an online class. Research course offerings ahead of time to determine if the instructor, structure and material are a good fit for you. Some online classes, for example, rely largely on the discussion boards to further your learning while others make heavier use of group projects, individually-written papers or collaborative problem sets. Don’t be shy about contacting the professor (and students who have taken the course previously) to find out what you can expect. Online instructors are using a wide array of exciting technologies to enhance their instruction. Think seriously about how you learn best, and select a course that meets your needs.
Learn more. Visit our Online Programs page for more.
Jennifer Bachner, PhD teaches online and on-ground courses in statistical analysis, survey research methods, public opinion, elections and American political behavior. Dr. Bachner recently published a book chapter, “Challenges and Solutions When Designing and Teaching Online Courses,” which is featured in Cases on Critical and Qualitative Perspectives in Online Education. She is also helping to launch the Johns Hopkins Master of Science in Government Analytics.
She received a PhD in government from Harvard University and undergraduate degrees in political science and social studies education from the University of Maryland, College Park.
- Film and Media | Prospective Student
- I Just Graduated from Johns Hopkins University
- I’ve Been Accepted to Johns Hopkins University
- Government Faculty Profiles
- Hopkins is the Epicenter of Biotechnology.
- Hopkins is Committed.
- Hopkins is Enriching Professional Studies.
- Hopkins is Enriching Professional Studies.
- Hopkins is the flexibility you need
- Hopkins Is Where Technology and the Environment Meet.
- The Johns Hopkins Master of Arts in Global Security Studies
- The Johns Hopkins Master of Arts in Public Management
- The Johns Hopkins Online Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems
- Johns Hopkins Center for Biotechnology Education
- The Johns Hopkins Master of Arts in Government
- Thank You
- Applied Economics | Welcome
- Events Calendar Test
- Biotechnology | Welcome
- Biotechnology Enterprise & Entrepreneurship | Welcome
- Communication | Welcome
- Energy Policy and Climate | Welcome
- Environmental | Welcome
- Geographic Information Systems | Welcome
- Global Security | Welcome
- Government Studies | Welcome
- Master of Liberal Arts | Welcome
- Museum Studies | Welcome
- National Security Studies | Welcome
- Nonprofit Management | Welcome
- Public Management | Welcome
- Writing | Welcome
- Online Campaign Pages
- Fall 2012 Online New Student Orientation
- Watch Graduation Broadcast
- Communication Webinar about Strategic Planning and Research Tracks
- News — Kristen Soltis Anderson & the 25 Most Influential Washington Women under 35.
- Information Session
- JHU Communication Career Blog Kickoff, Alums Poggio & DiCaro Featured
- Three AAP Students Recognized with Women in Science Scholarships
- Kristen Soltis Anderson Named One the 25 Most Influential Washington Women under 35.
- Transatlantic Perspectives on Secrecy and Edward Snowden
- Counterinsurgency in Crisis: Britain and the Challenges of Modern Warfare
- Master of Liberal Arts | Prospective Students
- 5 New Courses to Discover this Spring
- International Profile
- Special Course – Cyberforce Superiority: Foundational Elements
- Higlighted Course – The Theory of Intelligence
- 5 Essential Online Learning Strategies
- Faculty Profiles – Government
- Joyce Ray on Historical Preservation and Digital Curation
- Environmental Masters of Science
- Hopkins Environmental Graduate Programs
- Build a Solid Career
- MCAT Review Course Spring 2015
- Johns Hopkins and AFCEA