Studying is essential to
any educational endeavor, but the online learning environment
presents some unique studying challenges that you might not face in a
traditional classroom environment. This means that in order to excel
in your online class, you'll need to make sure
your study skills are top notch!
Discipline, responsibility, motivation... these are characteristics
that all students need in order to get the most they can
out of their classes. But online students sometimes
face additional challenges because of the degree of independence that the online learning system
grants them. This is why it's so important
for you to be able to honestly and effectively assess
your own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to your
study skills and habits, and to develop a
process for yourself that will enable you
to be most effective.
We've created this module
on study skills and time management to help you identify
your tendencies and habits, and provide you with
strategies for improvement. After completing this module,
we want you to know: Why creating and sticking to
a study schedule can be even more essential
to an online course than a course
taught on campus; Factors to consider when
developing a study schedule; Why "cramming" for an exam or
assignment doesn't really work; and how to stay motivated
to complete your online course.
Step 1 - Time Management
We've broken things down for you
into three easy steps, so let' s go through them
one at a time. Step 1: identify your time management style. One of the first things you'll want to do
is to identify how you manage your time. We've created the following
6-question quiz to help you determine your
time management personality profile. Keep in mind that your responses should reflect what you probably
would do in a given situation, not what you think
is the "right" answer.
Complete the Personality Profile form to identify your personal style.
Identify Your Style
Now that you have a picture of the time-management personality types
out there, do you feel like your personality profile
fits the student you have been in the past? Has your previous way of doing things
worked for you, or do you think it's time
for a change? Remember, we can all always improve! See if you fit into one
of these categories, and select the next button
when you are ready to continue.
Step 2 - Create a Schedule
Step 2: Create a schedule. Now that you've evaluated how you
have done things in the past, you'll want to think about how
you might create a schedule for managing your time
to improve on that! The best schedules have some
flexibility built into them, as you will undoubtedly have
unexpected situations and circumstances arise during your time as a student.
Your schedule will be unique to you, depending on the level of
detail you find helpful. There are some things—due dates,
exam dates, and discussion times, for example— that should be included in your schedule
no matter what. But you also might find it helpful
to break down assignments into steps
that you can schedule as well. Again, this is all about
what works best for you. Do you want to keep a record
of only the major deadlines you need to keep in mind? Or does it help you to plan out
every day so you stay on track? Your answers to these questions
will vary depending on the course, the complexity of your schedule,
and your own personal preferences.
Your schedule will also vary depending
on the course you're taking. So pull out your syllabus and
try to determine the rhythm of the class by
looking at the following factors: How often does your instructor expect
discussion board contributions? When are initial discussion board
contributions due? Will you have tests or exams
in this course? When are those scheduled? Are there assignments and papers?
When are those due? Are there any group or
collaborative assignments? You'll want to pay particular attention
to the timing of any assignment that requires you to work with others. They take a longer time to complete
when you are learning online because it can be more complicated
to schedule times to get together.
You can find many useful resources
online that will help you keep track of your schedule. Some are basic, cloud-based calendars
, and some
are specialized for students. We all have exactly 168 hours per week.
How do you spend yours? And now that you're a student, how much time will you be willing
to devote to your studies? Ok, let's switch gears here
and spend a little time with a time management Q & A.
Q & A
with a time management Q&A. Here are some of the questions
most frequently asked by students:
(Student 1) Do I really need to
create a study schedule when I'm taking an online course? I can honestly keep track
of all of this in my head.
(Answer) Yes, you really should.
When you take a face-to-face course, you are expected to attend class
on a regular basis. There an instructor
will give you reminders about assignment due dates
and exam times. In an online class, you don't have
this built-in structure. You're going to have to
take responsibility for tracking class requirements yourself.
(Student 2) Realistically, how much time
should I spend studying for this class?
(Answer) This is a good question,
and a tough one to answer. Each hour of class
is equal to one unit of credit, which means that you can think
of each credit as an hour. A good rule of thumb for studying is to study two hours
for every hour of class. So if you are enrolled
in twelve units, your schedule should give you
24 hours of study time every week.
(Student 3) Ok, so aside from
class time requirements, should I account for anything else
as I draw up my schedule?
(Answer) This depends on how detailed
you want your schedule to be. Is it a calendar of important dates, or do you need a clear picture
of how to organize your entire day? We think the latter is more successful,
as long as you stick with it. This is also where it will be
helpful to determine when you are most productive
and efficient. When are you the most focused
and ready to learn new things? In the morning, afternoon,
or evening? Check the Quest for Online Success
course site for online tools that can help you plan your time.
(Student 4) My life and school requirements
change on a week-to-week basis. How can I possibly account for
this when making a schedule?
(Answer) Try creating a variable schedule
in case an event comes up or you need to take
a day or two off.
(Student 5) The way you've talked
about scheduling and time management makes it sound like a good idea,
but it's also totally unrealistic. What's wrong with cramming?
It's what I'll probably end up doing anyway...
(Answer) Cramming, or studying
immediately before an exam without much preparation beforehand,
has many disadvantages. Trying to learn any subject
or memorize facts in a brief but intense period of
time is basically fruitless. You simply forget what you have learned
much faster when you cram. Instead, study in smaller increments
on a regular basis. Your brain will absorb
complex course material in a lasting and more profound way
because it's how our brain functions. Finally, Step 3:
Get better at prioritizing.
Step 3 - Prioritizing Time
Due dates are important. Set your short and long-term
goals accordingly. Ask yourself: What needs to get done today? What needs to get done this week? What needs to get done by the end
of the first month of the semester? What needs to get done by the end
of the second month of the semester? What needs to get done by
the end of the semester? Your time is valuable. Treat it accordingly by getting
the most you can out of it. Above all: avoid PROCRASTINATION. Procrastination is the kiss of death
to the online learner because it's incredibly difficult
to catch up once you've fallen behind. Do you have a problem procrastinating? We're going to ask you a few
questions in this final segment and if you find yourself saying
"Sounds like me" more often than you say
"No way" you'll really want to be
on your guard so that procrastination doesn't
become an issue for you.
My paper is due in two days and I haven't really started
writing it yet.
I've had to pull an all-nighter
to get an assignment done on time.
I've turned in an assignment late
or asked for an extension when I really didn't have a good excuse
not to get it done on time.
I've worked right up to the
minute an assignment was due.
I've underestimated how long
a reading assignment would take and didn't finish it
in time for class.
I've relied on the Internet for information
because I didn't finish
the reading on time.
If these sound like issues
you've struggled with in the past, you might want to think seriously
about whether you have the tendency to procrastinate, and how you want to deal with it
in your future classes. You're already spending a lot of
time, energy, and money on the online classes you're taking.
Don't let all of that go to waste!
But don't worry!
We are here to help. Select each piece of
our procrastination pie to get some strategies for
overcoming these challenges.
Pie Slice 1
Keep your studying "bite-sized". When confronted with 150 pages of reading
or 50 problems to solve, you may understandably feel overwhelmed. What if you decide that you will
read for 45 minutes, or that you will
solve 10 problems? That sounds much more manageable.
Pie Slice 2
Turn off your phone,
close your chat windows, and block distracting websites. The best advice we've ever heard
is to treat your studying as if you're in a movie theater—
just turn it off!
Pie Slice 3
Set up a reward system:
If you read for 40 minutes, you can check your phone
for 5 minutes. But keep in mind that
reward-based systems only work if you stick
to a code of self-honor.
Pie Slice 4
Study in a place reserved
for study ONLY. Your bedroom may have
too many distractions so stay out of there when
working on school assignments.
Pie Slice 5
Use checklists: Make your incremental
accomplishments visible. Some people get great
satisfaction and motivation from checking items off
a "to do" list. Be very specific when
creating this list, and clearly describe each task
one step at a time.
Congratulations! You're well on your way
through this Quest for Online Success course.
In this module we've provided many ideas
for time management, assignment organization,
and avoiding procrastination,
but there are still hundreds
of additional resources online.
Seek out some of these for further help.
You're sure to find tools and strategies
that will work well for your individual style.