Online learning is different than face-to-face learning. It requires self-direction and taking responsibility for your own learning. You need to be organized, motivated and confident. You must be pro-active and engage in seeking out answers and communicating with classmates and instructors. Your learning experiences must involve much more text-based communication than in your face-to-face learning experiences where the learning is more voice-based communication and note taking.
Before the course begins: Get organized for the learning experiences
- Syllabus. Download and read the syllabus. Obtain texts and other items needed for the course.
- Prepare for interactions. Access as many resources for the course as possible so you are ready to begin when the course begins. Access and become comfortable using Skype, Google Hangouts, Google Chats, Adobe Connect and other social media applications that might be useful for interacting with students and instructors. Become familiar with the online platform used to facilitate the course (Blackboard, Piazza, etc.) and features that support online educational experiences, such as obtaining access to graded assignments, connecting with students and instructors, obtaining announcements, posting questions, etc.
- Learn about potential tools useful for your course. Explore different potential tools to use in the course. Search the web for video explanations for how to use the tools. Learn how to access and use the OSU interlibrary loan system to gather additional resources you might need (see available tutorial).
First week of the class or as soon as the course is activated
- Calendar. Create a calendar for the term using information from the syllabus; identify as many due dates as possible. Include potential weekly study times and times to be engaged in the threaded discussions. Instructors may also post a schedule that will be helpful in creating this calendar. Create a master calendar for all courses and registration information.
- Introductory information. Access and read the introductory information posted in the course.
- Get to know your classmates. Introduce yourself to the class using the instructor’s directions. The typical information to share includes your geographical location and time zone, your plans in the program, your current work, and other information that helps others become familiar with you as more than a name. Personalize with a photo if possible.
- Study groups. Identify a study group and identify leaders to assure the groups are on task throughout the course.
- Weekly study times. Finalize planned weekly study times. Commit to this schedule.
Weekly throughout the course
- Plan a weekly schedule. Log into the course as soon as available, download and read weekly expectations and make a schedule for your work. Read the assignments for the week and plan how you might meet the requirements.
- Daily attention. Log into the course daily. Read and attend to all posted announcements and other communications.
- Download materials and resources. Download as much as you can so that you might work offline on the work. These downloads might include problem sets, project descriptions, videos, or other assignment documentation.
- READ all assigned readings. Make connections between the readings, lectures, and assignment expectations.
- Web and problem solving. Problem solving is a large part of computer science. In online learning, you will have more individual responsibility for organizing your problem solving activities. Make use of the web to gather additional supporting materials to help in solving problems and answering questions. Search the web for additional resources to enhance your understanding of the ideas.
- Videos. Review videos more than once, taking notes and making sure you understand the ideas. Connect the videos with the readings. Read instructor comments framing the videos. These comments may be more current than the videos.
- Communicate. The nice part of online learning is that you have long term access to the videos and video lectures. The difficult part is that raising your hand to ask a question is not possible. You need to learn to ask questions in a different way – by posting your questions. The challenge is to whom you should post those questions. Communicate with your study partners, other members in the class, and through the discussion boards. You will learn more by trying to answer your questions before going to the instructor for answers and your understanding will be at a deeper level.
- Actively participate in class discussions. Actively participate in the class discussions, asking meaningful questions and extending the discussions of the ideas. Clearly identify a purpose for your post. Let your readers know you have a question or indicate that you are extending the ideas to make the ideas clearer. Read all the discussions before you post and respond appropriately. Resist the ‘I agree” messages. Bring ideas together to help others see the bigger pictures and ideas. This process of putting your ideas into writing actually helps clarify your thinking.
- Connect with small group members. Use small groups to share ideas, solutions and understandings.
- Study groups. Work with your study group: ask questions, share ideas, and understandings. (Yes, this group is in addition to other groups created in the course. Gather as many varied ideas about the topics as you can.)
- Submit assignments on time – even early if possible. Read and follow the assignment instructions carefully.
- Review your grades and ask questions. Make sure that you read and understand the assignment results.
- Reflect. Reflect on your work for the week. What did you learn and how did that learning come about? What problems were you able to solve? What problems continue to be problems? Discuss these ideas with other students and if necessary the instructor.