Reading through this Distance Learning (DL) orientation is a great start! Once you've completed the orientation, you'll have strategies for getting oriented to a new DL course, managing your time, staying motivated, getting help if you need it, setting up your workspace, doing library research, and managing your technology.
The focus of this part of the orientation is planning for success and orienting to a new DL course. It has the following sections:
It is very important that you select a DL course that fits into your program of study and for which you are well prepared. DL students have access to the same services as on-campus students. Check with advising and counseling before selecting a course. It is also a good idea to check with the department and professor offering the course to ensure that you have the necessary knowledge for success.
You probably have a long-term goal, such as completing a degree or certificate or gaining skills that will help you advance or change your career. You should also set short-term goals in order to define success for yourself and guide you in evaluating your progress.
Set semester goals for yourself, such as the grades you would like to achieve and the knowledge you want to gain. To realistically set these goals, consider the grades you've earned in other, similar courses, how long it's been since you've studied a similar subject, whether your grades in prerequisite courses were strong, and how much time you have to devote to this course. Do you have other obligations that might make it difficult to achieve your goals?
Online courses take as much time, if not more time, than on-campus courses. One rule of thumb is that there are two hours of out-of-class work for every hour in class. That means for a three-hour class, you should expect to spend at least nine hours per week. Do you have that time? Do you have a little more than that to allow for potential communication delays, technical problems, or other issues?
What goals can you realistically set for each week? Can you set a goal to find nine (or more) hours to work on your course and stick to it? Can you set a goal to accomplish all assignments each week on time? You might consider other goals as well, such as discussing feedback with your professor so you can improve on subsequent assignments, finding a study partner in the class, or making a potential professional contact.
It's a good idea to make a plan for accomplishing your work each week in your courses. Here are some of the questions you should answer before the semester begins:
Every professor will organize a course and communicate that information to you a little differently, but there are several places you should look before you email the professor with questions: