The Pioneer Post

The Pioneer Post is a resource for online students that provides tips and information about distance education.


Monday, September 3, 2007

Well, it's the beginning of another new semester and now is the time to establish good habits to be a successful online learner. Below are my top 10 tips for this:

  1. Read information thoroughly.
    Don't just focus on your assignments--but be sure to read the announcements from your instructor, the learning objectives of your course and modules, directions for completing your coursework, and the course information at the beginning of the course.

  2. Make yourself aware of deadlines.
    There are a variety of different deadlines throughout the semester for submission of assignments, registering for the next semester, dropping classes, applying for graduation, etc. This information is sent to you at various times throughout the semester and/or is in your class or on the distance education website. It is your responsibility to monitor these deadlines.

  3. Don't procrastinate.
    Successful online learners continue to tell us that the main reason they are successful is that they don't put things off. Put together a schedule and follow it as closely as possible. Build in some extra time, in case of illness or emergency, so that you are not always waiting until the last minute to accomplish things.

  4. Take advantage of available services.
    UW-Platteville offers a variety of services to assist you in being a successful online learner. Continuing services include academic advising, library access, writing resources, online orientation, student and alumni advisory board mentoring, student service advising, financial aid resources, and a variety of other information available on the distance education website. In addition, we will be adding two new services for you this semester. Please be watching for announcements about Refworks (a service that assists with managing and preparing references/bibliographies, and research) and Turnitin (a plagiarism detection service). Make sure to use these services!!!!

  5. Read and respond to communication.
    Since our distance students do not come to campus, it is difficult to find the best way to communicate with all of you. We currently have approximately 2000 students that are taking courses at a distance. We continue to add new communication mechanisms to try to reach you in the most efficient way possible. Currently, when we have information you need to be aware of, we communicate it in the following manner: adding announcements to online classes, sending out Plexus (printed and online), sending e-mails, providing an RSS announcement service, writing articles for the BLOG, etc. It is important to pay attention to the information you receive from the DLC and respond to what is being asked.

  6. Stay in touch with your advisor and student services representative.
    There are many people available to help you be successful in your online program. Be sure to ask questions of your advisor and student services representatives (as well as others in the DLC) to make sure that you understand the various aspects of the program.

  7. Ask your instructor.
    If you have a question about the material in your courses, assignments, etc., ask your instructor. While it is important that you read information carefully and critically think about the material in your class, if you can't understand something or it is confusing, be sure to connect with your instructor. They are there to help you!!!

  8. Build in rewards.
    As students who are typically trying to juggle school, work, family, and community responsibilities, it is important that you build in some rewards to your life as you complete various tasks. This could be something small (such as an hour to indulge in a massage for completing a particularly difficult assignment or course) or something large (such as a trip to celebrate graduating from a program). Whatever the case, be sure to "schedule some time" to reward yourself for what you are accomplishing.

  9. Know when you need a break.
    Each semester I will hear from students who have taken on more than they can handle and suffer burnout, sickness, or worse. While obtaining a college degree is not easy and you will have to make sacrifices to accomplish everything in your life, it is important to know when you need a break. Sometimes taking a weekend away from studying or a semester away from classes is the best thing you can do to get rejuvenated and healthy to continue toward your ultimate goal of graduation. Again, there are a variety of people at UWP that can assist you with these types of decisions.

  10. Have a support network in your personal life.
    Since you are juggling a variety of things while earning your degree online, it is important that you have supportive people in your life outside of school. Family members, friends, and work colleagues can be a great support network for you and they can also be a major deterrent to your success. It is important to work things out with your family regarding what time will be given up with them while you are in school (and what home projects will get postponed). If you find friends that are constantly trying to keep you from your studies, examine why they are not supporting you and limit your time with them. If they are truly friends, they will understand that there are times for fun and times for school work. Getting support from your boss and co-workers is very important for your success. Be willing to talk openly with them about how your classes can ultimately help you do your job better, but that you need to have time to complete your studies—so working late every night and weekend is not an option.

I hope you will find these tips to be worthwhile for you.

Dawn Drake
Executive Director



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