Hello Change Management Students
A few housekeeping items.
1. Treat an online course like a “real” course.
When it comes to online classes, you need to have the discipline to sit down and say, “I am going to work on this,” as well as the dedication to actually follow through. Though you can be flexible as to when you choose to complete your work during the week, you can’t put it off indefinitely.
One of the easiest ways to ensure follow-through is to remember that you volunteered to be a leader for your club and your community. You must “show up” if you’re going to get real value out of these classes. Treat your online classes the same way you would a face-to-face meeting or class—or, better yet, a job—and you’ll be off to the right start.
2. Hold yourself accountable.
Set goals at the beginning of the course, and check-in with yourself on a daily basis. In a traditional classroom setting, you’ll often receive verbal or visual reminders of an assignment’s upcoming due date. But without an instructor actively reminding you, it’s up to you to make sure you’ve allotted enough time to complete the work so you’re not starting an assignment the day before it’s due.
If you’re having trouble holding yourself responsible, pair up with a fellow leader, or enlist the help of a spouse or friend to check in as an accountability partner. By being organized, proactive, and self-aware, you can get the most from your online class even when life outside of this course becomes chaotic.
3. Eliminate distractions.
From Netflix to social media to dishes piling up in the sink, you’ll be faced with many distractions that can easily derail your studies. The best online students know how to lessen these distractions and set aside time to focus.
Exactly how much of a challenge these distractions will prove to be will depend on your own unique personality and situation. Some might find that they can tune out a noisy home by listening to music. Others might choose to work from a local coffee shop or library to eliminate their urge to multitask at home. Ultimately, you will need to find a strategy that works best for you.
Regardless of where you choose to work, consider turning your cell phone off to avoid losing focus every time a text message or notification pops up. And if you’re still having trouble resisting the temptation to check your email or surf the web, try downloading a website blocker. Using applications like Cold Turkey and Freedom can help eliminate distractions by blocking the apps or websites that tend to compete for your attention, such as Facebook and Twitter.
4. Figure out how you learn best.
Once you’ve established where you’ll learn, think about when and how you accomplish your best work. If you’re a morning person, make time to study first thing. More of a night owl? Set aside an hour or two after dinner to cozy up to your computer. If the kids require your morning and evening attention, try to carve out a study session mid-day while they’re at school. Brew your usual cup of coffee, put on your go-to playlist, and do whatever you need to get into the zone and down to business.
Not everyone learns the same way, so think about what types of information help you best grasp new concepts and employ relevant study strategies. If you’re a visual learner, for example, print out transcripts of the video lectures to review. Learn best by listening? Make sure to build time into your schedule to play and replay all audio and video-based course content.
5. Actively participate.
Participate in the course’s online forum to help you better understand course materials and engage with fellow leaders. This might involve commenting on a leader’s comments or questions on a discussion board or posting a question about a project you’re working on. Read what other leaders and your instructor are saying, and ask for clarification if you have any questions.
Make sure you are checking in as often as you can, too. The flexibility of online learning means that if you have 30 minutes before dinner plans, you could squeeze in a discussion response around your schedule. Set a goal to check in on the class discussion threads every day.
6. Leverage your network.
Online classes may sometimes make you feel like you are learning on your own, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Most online courses are built around the concept of collaboration, with fellow leaders and instructors actively encouraging that you work together to complete assignments and discuss lessons.
Build relationships with other leaders by introducing yourself and engaging in online discussion boards. Your peers can be a valuable resource when preparing for developing your plan or asking for feedback on items you need help on. Don’t be afraid to turn to them to create a virtual leadership group. Chances are good that they will appreciate it just as much as you will.
Practice Makes Perfect
Online classes are an excellent option to help you to fulfill your goals. Though they come with their own unique challenges, following the advice above can help you be successful even in the most chaotic of times.