(Host) Hi, I'm Melissa, and today
I'm going to help you learn how to organize
for online learning success! If you're taking a course on campus,
you'll meet with your instructor and the other students in your class
at least once a week. In this traditional environment,
you will be reminded multiple times when assignments are due. In an online environment, however,
it's up to you to remind yourself. Luckily, there are a lot of tools
out there to help you get started. But first it's important to get organized. In this module,
we'll talk about how to: organize your physical study space, organize your course materials, and develop a scheduling system that will help
you turn all of your coursework in on time. But before we start I want to draw your
attention to the bottom of the screen, where you will see a section
labeled Helpful Tips. Throughout the module we will reveal
valuable tips and tricks to help you organize yourself,
your space and your time. You'll want to check each of these out
as they appear!
Organize Your Environment
So what does it take to be organized? Take control of your physical space. When are you most productive?
In what kind of set-up? Everyone's preferences will be different, but once you've answered
these questions for yourself, create a place where your priority
can be concentrating on schoolwork. First, identify what time of day
you are most productive. Are you most alert and fresh
in the morning? Do you prefer to work at night,
when you've gotten other things you need to accomplish during
the day already done? Or is there some other time of day
that works best for your studies? It can really help to set up
some kind of schedule, so you know when you will be
sitting down to accomplish the requirements for your course. Second, decide where to study.
Some people prefer to work at home; others find that setting
too tempting or distracting. Some prefer the quiet of a library
while others appreciate the background activity they find at a café. Make sure you have a plan B location in case
your first location doesn't work out on a given day. Maybe someone in your home
is having company over, or there isn't any more seating
available at Starbucks. But at the end of the day, it's like
the ancient Greek saying goes: "Know thyself." Third, what conditions will enable you
to concentrate and learn most effectively within your study space? Your motivation can be influenced
by the noise level, temperature, and light in the place you choose. So bring a sweater...
Well, maybe not that one! Pack some headphones,
or do anything else that will allow you to tailor your
environment to your personal preferences. Once you find what works best for you,
you can make the adjustments you need to be comfortable and get
Tipster Tip #1 - Know your constraints
Know your constraints.
Is your employer ok with you studying
at work during lunch and on breaks? Can you use your work computer
for your classes? Ask, don't assume. You don't want to step
on your employer's toes or paint yourself into a corner
with your schoolwork by presuming that it's fine with them.
Tipster Tip #2 - Find a plug!
Know where you can plug in. Identify several places with
free wireless Internet. That way, if one network is down,
you will have an alternative location for getting assignments in on time.
This doesn't only go for wireless either. Electrical outlets can become hot real estate
if others have the same idea as you. If you're planning to be at
a given location for a long time, be aware of the availability
of electrical outlets. The last thing you want
is for your device to die in the middle of a study session
or while you are working on an assignment.
Organize Your Course Materials
(Host) The second element you will have
to organize is your course materials. You may prefer working with hard copies
that you can print out and write on, or you may appreciate the ease and
flexibility that comes with working digitally. Most students use a combination of both,
depending on the course or a given assignment. But both require you to set up a
reliable and convenient system so you can stay on top
of your work.
If you like to work with "hard" (or physical, printed) copies, find a place where you can keep
all of your school materials: books, notes, assignments,
binders, and a calendar. Keep a stash of basic office supplies: pens, highlighters, paper, a stapler,
binders, folders, index cards or any other study aids you might need. Who doesn't enjoy shopping for school supplies? Who doesn't enjoy shopping for school supplies?
Create an Organizational Style
Create an organizational style that works
for you. The internet can be really helpful here. A quick Google search or a few minutes
on a visual bookmark site like Pinterest might give you some helpful tips and ideas
that could actually make a practical task like organizing exciting and - dare we say? - enjoyable. If, on the other hand, you prefer the ease
and convenience that comes with an electronic
- or digital - system, you still have many options for
how to organize your materials. Again, you'll still want to have a "place"
where you can store and find your materials. Which device will you keep your materials
on? Where will you store your back ups? If you're saving your files on different devices,
you may find yourself wasting a lot of time trying to locate a particular document. Avoid this by creating an electronic
organizational system that works well for you. You may want to store files
on your own personal computer, or you may want to take advantage
of publicly-available computers and store your work
on a removable hard drive.
Any of these hardware options (or combinations of them) should work just fine. Another option is to keep your files
in the "cloud," or in online storage. This may mean emailing yourself
copies of assignments or tapping into the free resources
offered by cloud-based services. If your files are saved in the cloud,
you will be able to access them from anywhere, as long as you have access to the Internet. Some examples of cloud-based
storage services include: iCloud, Box, Dropbox, Amazon CloudDrive,
Google Drive, Evernote.
Tipster Tip #3 - Cloud services
You'll want to check
cloud-services websites for their latest information
on their capacity (how much space they'll give you for free), compatibility (what browsers they support best),do they have an app?>, and features (which one offers the services
you'd value the most for your schoolwork). Shop around—
not all services are created equal!
Tipster Tip #4 - Organize e-learning
Decide how to
organize your electronic course materials, including those you download
and those you create. For example, you might create: One folder for each of your courses; One sub-folder for each week of each course,
using a naming convention that includes the dates of each week.
For example, Wk1_Sept01-08. Within each weekly sub-folders,
you could create another level of sub-folders divided into "readings,"
"resources," "assignments," etc.
Tipster Tip #5 - Naming your files
Create descriptive file names so you don't have to open files
to know what is in it: for example, the course title
and assignment name.
Tipster Tip #6 - Version control
Develop a version control system for when you go back and
revise a file you already saved. Some people use v1, v2,
while others use
Tipster Tip #7 - Back up your files!
Keep at least one
backup for each of your files, and store them in a different place
than where you usually access them. So if you save your files
on your personal laptop, save them also in the cloud
or on an external hard drive. That way, if - knock on wood -
your computer crashes, you won't lose all of your work.
Organize Your Time
(Host) The last thing you'll
need to organize is your time. The first thing you'll want to do
when you sign up for an online class is to read the syllabus - thoroughly! - and familiarize yourself with class
requirements and assignment due dates. Write these down immediately. It will help you get an idea of what
the rest of the term will look like and how the course will be paced. Above all, it will make sure that
you don't have any surprises midway through the term.
You won't want to realize that your first big essay is due
the day before the midterm, when it's too late to get
either assignment done well.
Tipster Tip #8 - Create a calendar
Create a calendar
that you can fill out as soon as you receive the syllabus and that you can update and consult
periodically throughout the semester. You might want to use Google calendar,
iCalendar, or another cloud-based system that you can check from any device
and set up with notifications for when assignments are due, or you might find that the system
that works best for you is an old-fashioned day planner
or wall calendar.
Tipster Tip #9 - Break it up!
If you prefer to break an assignment into manageable pieces and
schedule them accordingly, do so. This can be tremendously helpful
because it will give you milestones that will allow you to
monitor your progress incrementally.
Tipster Tip #10 - Use an alert/alarm
Use a reminder or alert feature built into an online calendar
in order to keep yourself on track.
Now that you have completed this module
you should be well on your way
for organizational success!
Because online learning is so flexible,
you can really tailor the experience
to your own personal preferences.
Simply find what works,
and stick to it.
And remember, each lesson
in this series
includes a variety
of instructional aids,
activities and additional resources.
Be sure to check those materials out
if you are looking for more ideas
to help you get organized!