That’s it, you are enrolled and ready to embark on a new learning journey! This one will be slightly different from your previous experiences: you are now an online learner, with a mouse at your fingertips and a course on a remonte server at your virtual door. What we encourage you to do today is to embrace your online enrollment as a brand new opportunity to grow your skills and personality.
To help you on your way, we have a few tips to share based on our experience and our students’ valuable feedback over the years:
Tip #1: Cover the tech basics
First things first: to ensure that you can study whenever you want and access your courses smoothly, you have to be able to rely on your hardware and internet connection. Sure enough, there will be times when the provider will be down, times for LMS upgrades etc. But aside from the occasional glitch, upgrades and maintenance periods are announced in advance in order to help you work around them. Do invest in an external hard drive if you can and – in any case – regularly back up your work in order to prevent dramatic computer crashes and data loss. You may also want to set up a GoogleDrive or Dropbox account: they are free (check out Dropbox plans for added storage capacity) and easy to set up in just a few steps.
Tip #2: Define your study space (and let others know)
At a time when multitasking is all the rage – not to mention the “I-am-busy” syndrome – it is capital that when you sit down to study, you fully ease yourself into the task. One way to achieve this is related to setting up your study area in a way that allows you to sit down and work whenever needed and with no outer/inner distractions. The size of the area is not important in this case: quality is what matters since it should be a quiet space, dedicated to your activity only and accessible to you only during your study time. Defining your study space also means ensuring that your entourage understands your academic project and respects it. As a former freelancer, I have mixed feelings and memories about having to remind family and friends that you are actually working, even if you are around and seem to be available for any type of questions!
Tip #3: Plan your studies
In a way planning your studies time wise is part of defining your study space too and is every bit as crucial as your study corner. Aside from the multiple calendars you can set up on any type of device, including your computer, Horizons University provides you with a Study Plan. You are invited to fill your Study Plan upstream under the guidance of your facilitator and Student Premier to make sure you set achievable and actionable goals. To reach those goals is the key to your structured progression and I suggest you read our goal-oriented post (and cheat sheet!) to find out how to set that up.
Tip #4: Get familiar with the rules
Studying online requires structure and motivation as well as the skills to learn the policies and rules that will make it easier for you to access your LMS, understand how it works and establish efficient communication channels with our staff and your student community. When starting your program with Horizons University you will first go through the introduction courses: these self-paced online courses are meant to help you get familiar with our LMS but also our policies, such as plagiarism and academic honesty. In the end, you start the program fully aware of your environment, both technical and intellectual, which we believe is a significant asset!
Tip #5: Engage!
The term “motivation” appears higher up in this post – and is a key term when you are studying online. Feeling isolated in the midst of tons of conversations and social media exchanges – as paradoxical as it may sound – is common nowadays. We do encourage you to join us throughout social media channels, but also and above all to turn to your Student Premier whenever you have questions about your learning experience; or to your facilitator for curriculum content related queries; or to the Administrative Officer for administrative questions. Horizons University students are part of a community of professionals. There is the social community out there, but it is also backed up by experts who know your profile, academic history prior to Horizons University and at our institution. They are here to listen to you and provide customized assistance wherever and whenever needed.
What other tips would you like to share with your fellow students or our prospects? What makes online studies easy or difficult for you? What could we implement to make your online learning process smoother?