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Online Learning Experience

Time Managment | Preparing for Exams | Study Smarter | Netiquette | Technology | Online Hints


There are several things to think through before you begin an online course. People have different learning styles and learn best in different environments. These are several things to consider as you think about MCC Online.

  1. You should plan to share your life, work and educational experiences as part of your learning process.
  2. Nearly all your interaction with fellow students and your professor will be electronic so you will need to be able to communicate through writing, and enjoy it.
  3. You should be a self-motivated person who has some self-discipline to keep up with the “flow of the course.”
  4. You should also be willing to ‘speak up’ whenever you encounter a problem. Issues with your assignments or technical difficulties should be communicated to your professor or the Director for Distance Education.
  5. You will need to be able to spend an average of 12-15 hours per week, per course, on reading and assignments. Some courses will require more time. Online learning is not easier than being in a classroom. Often it is considered more difficult.
  6. You should be able to work with others in completing projects, and
  7. Stay in touch with your professor. This is most commonly done by email and through course message boards, but your professor will also provide a phone number for course contact.

MCC Online offers an online course “self-evaluation” quiz on our web site. These simple questions will help you to evaluate your readiness to take a course on MCC Online. Please take the quiz to see how you will do in an online class.

Tips for Time Management

Let’s start with a self-assessment survey (adapted from Capella University focused seminar). Of these positive time management skills, how many do you practice? Please respond to the following questions indicating: (1) I should do this, (2) I could do this, (3) I do this now, or (4) Does not apply to me

  1. plan your week
  2. use to-do lists
  3. prioritize items
  4. schedule quiet times (not to be interrupted)
  5. break long projects into parts (time periods)
  6. schedule time for doing smaller activities (such as returning calls)
  7. keep your schedule flexible (allow for unexpected events)
  8. set a scheduled time and time limit for all visitors
  9. ask others to see/call you only during your scheduled time and screen your calls
  10. control your time rather than having others control
  11. keep your desk or work area clean
  12. rearrange work area for increased productivity
  13. remove non-work related items from work area
  14. do one task at a time
  15. combine or modify activities to save time
  16. set clear objectives for yourself and others
  17. delegate whenever possible
  18. reduce socializing (when necessary) without causing offense
  19. identify time wasters and work to minimize them
  20. stay calm

Now check yourself on some of the pitfalls in managing time well:

  1. allow interruptions
  2. procrastinate
  3. saying “yes” when later you wish you had said “no”
  4. avoid important tasks by spending time on less important ones
  5. tend to leave tasks unfinished
  6. have difficulty living with unfinished tasks
  7. have too many projects going at once
  8. try to please others at one’s own expense &
  9. lose concentration by thinking of what must be done next

Review your self-assessment. Do you see where you can make improvements? Do you have some bad habits you should stop? You are now on your way to developing better time management skills. So what is your next step?

You might find the following tips useful in developing your time management skills.

  • Be realistic with yourself regarding how much you can actually accomplish in a given time period.
  • Realize that all tasks are not equally important and set priorities on a daily, weekly, and/or monthly basis.
  • Fine-tune your ability to say “no” to additional responsibilities that infringe on your personal, work, and/or leisure time.
  • Be aware of your peak energy periods and plan to do activities, which require a high level of concentration and performance, during those times.
  • Ask yourself “what’s the best use of my time right now? And focus on that particular activity.
  • Remember that striving for perfection takes time and usually isn’t necessary. Complete tasks well enough to get the results you really need.
  • Realize that many tasks/responsibilities can be delegated to others. Be sure to communicate your expectations clearly.
  • Make basic decisions quickly to save energy for the more important and difficult decisions.
  • Approach overwhelming responsibilities with a positive attitude, and learn to break large tasks into small, achievable ones.
  • Make use of “waiting” time, by having small, uncomplicated tasks/activities to do…or simply plan to enjoy this time and relax.
  • Request uninterruptible time whenever needed to achieve goals. Take control of your environment at home and/or work to establish a conducive place for task involvement and completion.
  • Set goals and reward yourself when you’ve accomplished them.
  • Always remind yourself of the benefits you’ll derive from task completion.
  • Free time, leisure activities, and exercise need to be scheduled/prioritized, as well as work activities.

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Tips for Preparing for Assignments and Exams

  • Familiarize yourself with the course design. Read all of the course syllabus. Be able to meet the minimum standards as set froth by the instructor.
  • Identify the tools necessary to complete assignments and be able to complete assignments on time.
  • Organize your assignments and course goals into a schedule. Set deadlines for yourself and stick to them.
  • Prepare for your assignments and tests. Read everything that is assigned to you. Designate a place of study that is comfortable for you.
  • Keep aware of your materials. Online courses have many different materials. Remember you are not watching or listening as you would in a traditional classroom. Take notes and be prepared for your assignments and exams.
  • When you are preparing your assignments be sure to save your documents on a regular basis.
  • When you are sending your assignments by email, send a copy to yourself. If you receive the message with attachments then your instructor should also. Keep these copies until you are comfortable that you will not need to resubmit them to your instructor.

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Tips for Studying Smarter

1.  Keep up with your course. Online courses are time consuming and you need to keep up with the reading and discussion boards. You should review the syllabus every week as assignments can change and you should keep a calendar of the dates assignments are due so you can plan your study time to have assignments completed on time.
2.  Keep in touch with your instructor. Study the syllabus to understand the instructor’s testing format, grading system and expectations. If you do not understand an assignment or have technical problems contact your instructor right away.
3.  Schedule regular study periods. If you don’t set aside a specific study time chances are you will fall behind quickly. Select and use the same area if possible, away from distractions.
4.  Be realistic. When you make up your study schedule take into account your work and home schedules and plan for study times you will be able to complete. Remember the average time per week to spend on an online course is 10-12 hours. If you run into conflicts with your study schedule, it is better to spend half an hour on your course than to plan for an hour or two and not work on it all.
5.  Study short and often. Your brain takes in information faster and retains it better if you don’t try to overload it.
6.  Start study sessions on time. It sounds like a small detail, but it’s amazing how quickly those 10 minute delays add up. Train yourself to use every minute of your study schedule.
7.  Study when you are wide awake. The majority of people work most efficiently during daylight hours. In most cases, one hour during the day is worth 1 ½ hours at night. Decide what your best time is and try to schedule your study time accordingly. You accomplish more when you are alert. If you find yourself nodding off, give in to it. It’s better to pick up at another time rather than try to get through everything when you can’t think straight. Tackle the toughest areas first, while you are most alert.
8.  Set a specific goal for each subject you study. You’ll accomplish more, faster if you set a specific goal for each study session. Don’t worry if you don’t reach your set goal within your allotted study time. Either reschedule the task into your next study period or go back to it later in the day, if you can.
9.   Start assignments as soon as they are given. A little work on an assignment each day will allow you time to give attention to its quality. Your workload will be spread out, so you will avoid doing it at the last minute.
10. Review your notes, assignments and discussion board discussion on a regular basis. Reviewing your work on a regular basis keeps you up to date and helps shorten the study time required for quizzes and exams.
11. Take regular breaks. The general rule of thumb is a 10 minute break for every 50 minutes you work. Don’t study through your breaks. They rejuvenate you for your next hour of studying.
12. Vary your work. Don’t get too bogged down on one assignment. Remember the tip of study short and often. Alternate from reading the text to working on an assignment to working on a paper. This will keep you from having trouble processing information from one particular assignment. If your course requires problem solving, spend a little time each day working on the problems assigned in the course.
13. Reward yourself. When you complete one of the goals you set for yourself, give yourself a reward. The reward system gives you an incentive to reach your goals, and a pat on the back for achieving them.
14. Keep on top of it. Letting work pile up can leave you with an overwhelming task. It’s easy to feel that you’ll never get on top of it again. If you find yourself falling behind, review your study skills and your time management skills. If something unexpected happens in your life to affect your work on the course, contact the instructor and discuss it with him or her.

Adapted from Making Your Mark, 5th edition, by Lisa Fraser.

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