Online Technical Training Blog
Learning From a Distance? Don’t Forget to Connect With a Study Partner
Fifty years ago – perhaps even as few as twenty – the idea that one day post-secondary courses would be taught in a virtual classroom rather than one surrounded by bricks and mortar would seem preposterous. The fact that online courses are being offered by pretty much every major educational institution is proof positive that what might be considered strange or impossible one day can become common place just a few years later.
Online courses, as convenient as they are, are not without their challenges. While these courses render obstacles like distance or limited financial resources much less considerable, the student must be self-motivated and organized enough to get assignments completed on time. It might not sound like it, but being isolated from your peers can have a pretty significant impact on your performance.
Regardless as to which corner of the globe you live in, or if you’ve enrolled in an electronics technician course or an interior design course, you’ll find many benefits to seeking out an online study partner. But before getting to those, there are a few other things you should consider before enrolling in an online course.
1. Understand the Implications of E-learning
Students thinking about enrolling in an online course really need to understand that the experience will be unlike anything they’ve experienced before in the academic world. Sure, you still have access to great faculty and robust course material, but so much of what you get out of the course will be dependent on you. That means in order to get the most out of the experience you need to:
●Have a high level of commitment
●Be a self-starter/disciplined. This is particularly true because no one will be there to get you out of bed or hold you accountable for missed deadlines
●Identify what your shortfalls might be and develop a strategy to address them. Procrastinators in particular may find online courses difficult if they don’t stick to a work/study schedule
2. Possess Reliable Technologies
Face it – technology will fail you from time to time. If you’re going to enroll in an online program, be sure you have a reliable Internet connection and a good, working computer. If the worst should happen, know where you can access additional resources. Many libraries have computers with an Internet connection that you can use, or if you’re working on a laptop and you lose your home Internet connection, know that you can connect at any number of coffee shops.
Most importantly, backup your data. A sound investment would be to purchase an external hard drive that you can back up assignments and contact information on. Barring that, make use of one of the many free cloud storage services available (services like Google Drive and Dropbox give you several GB of storage for free).
3. Find a Quiet, Separate Work Area
One of the many things that is vital to a student studying remotely is having a quiet place for them to get their work done. When choosing where you will be doing your work, make sure that it is in an area free of interruptions and distractions. It should be a space that allows you to spread out, and one that will be easy to keep organized.
Strategies to Help Remote Learners
There are literally dozens of strategies out there designed to help you learn and study effectively. Some work well and others less so. The point is it’s important to develop a strategy that is right for you. While individual strategies may differ, one thing many people can attest to the efficacy of is having a study partner.
There are many ways having a study partner can improve your academic performance, but we’ll try to stick to the primary reasons why it’s important for students (especially those that are isolated geographically from their peers) to have access to someone studying the same material.
Aside from having someone who can forward you course material that you may have lost or remind you when a test or assignment is coming up, study partners can be great for working through problems, giving a different point of view to an argument, or clarify assignment instructions.
Study partners can also be a valuable reservoir of studying tips and can do wonders for helping you stay motivated (because they can help to keep you accountable). Having someone edit your assignments and provide you with a fresh perspective doesn’t really hurt either.
So, study partners are pretty great – but how do you find one (especially when you live off campus)?
The first thing you might try is social media. A lot of programs organize a Facebook or LinkedIn group so that the students have a virtual place to connect with one another, ask questions etc. For some, platforms like Facebook may not be the solution because Facebook can only act as a meeting place. Online courses generally contain discussion boards where students can ask questions and get to know each other in a more academic setting. If you find someone that you think you might work well with, and who perhaps resides in your time zone, you can ask him or her if they would like to be study partners.
Technology makes meeting classmates for study sessions much more convenient. Where at one time you would have to choose a time to meet in a physical location, technology allows you to use platforms like Skype or Google Hangouts to get together, which saves quite a bit of commuting time.
These days, the world is a much smaller place, and a post-secondary education is probably more important than ever. If you do decide to enroll in an online course, you’ll be taking the first exciting steps to a brighter future; just be sure to make use of all the resources available to you and be sure to reach out and connect with a study partner. You’ll be glad you did.
Are you considering an online technical program to enhance your career? Find out more about what it’s like to be a student the George Brown College online technical Certificate programs.