Prepare your device for online courses

Students at laptopTaking an online course during the summer is quite different from your normal run-of-the-mill classroom courses of fall and spring. Even though the first summer session of classes is well underway at Elon, the second summer session of courses is right around the corner. Here are some tips to help students beginning summer classes succeed from the very beginning.

Always confirm technical requirements

It’s always stressful when you attempt to access your summer course online and your computer can’t view or display the webpages you need for class. Before an online class even begins, it’s important for students to make sure they know what the technical requirements are beforehand. This includes making sure that a variety of computer software is up-to-date before the class begins. The most common items you want to make sure are up-to-date are Java, Flash, and your web browser. Try accessing course materials early so that you can and know how to navigate them. This will prevent you from wasting valuable course time trying to figure out the technology.

MORE: Elon students and alumni offer advice for taking online courses

Create a schedule

Scheduling is important no matter what type of class you take—online or traditional. Quality online instructors will create easy-to-navigate courses and establish clear expectations. But, it’s also easy to get distracted from classwork with the warm weather and increased free time that summer affords. It’s always important to balance school and free time, so make sure you set aside enough time for your schoolwork, in addition to setting time for you to relax and enjoy yourself. If you find yourself attached to your iPhone or iPad, utilize the Calendar App. If you’re an Android user, consider taking advantage of Google Calendar. Finally, if you’re someone who finds it best to keep a To-Do List, explore some of the best To-Do List Apps of 2014, as recommended by Forbes.

Stay organized

Chances are, if you are taking a course online, you might not utilize traditional notebooks to keep class notes and assignments written down. In an increasingly technology-dependent world, it’s easy to just jot done notes on your computer’s notepad and lose them in the flurry of other new files you’ll create for a summer class. Develop an organizational system that works for you so that you can always access notes and other important items in a fraction of the time. Many users prefer to use note-taking software such as Evernote or OneNote. It’s also helpful to create a specific folder on your desktop for each class, and then save your work appropriately. That way, you’ll always know where your documents are.

Never underestimate the power of self-motivation

The key to succeeding in an online course is to keep yourself motivated. Since you aren’t spending time in a traditional classroom setting, no one is going to monitor you or your work until it has been submitted for grading. Many students comment that self-motivation is one of the last things they consider when taking an online course. If you are taking a class that involves class discussion in a forum, you might consider checking the forum several times throughout the day, so you aren’t overwhelmed with responding to a plethora of posts at one time.

As always, the Technology Help Desk is here to help troubleshoot problems you might have with technology at Elon University. If you have questions or need assistance, please call 278-5200.

Image by Flickr user Ed Yourdon

Ryan Gay

Ryan Gay

Ryan is the Manager of Service Management & IT Project Lead for Instructional & Campus Technologies. He has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in English from UNC-Greensboro.

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