How to be Successful with Online Learning

Online schooling is vastly different from traditional classroom learning. It requires focus and the ability to use your time wisely which can be difficult. I have chosen to write about it, in the hopes that what I have learned will make the adjustment more smoothly.

I am a wife and a mother to two elementary age children.  I work a 40+ hour a week job and both of my kids are busy with activities nearly every day after school and on the weekends.  A typical class at Anna Maria College requires several chapters to be read each week along with a discussion post due by Wednesday night and a weekly paper that is 1-3 pages long that is due Sunday night (except for week 8, then it is due Saturday night).  Around week 4 and week 7 there is a midterm and a final paper that is around 10 pages (double spaced) long or a midterm/final project.  There is also the requirement of a minimum of 3 responses to the discussion posts of others in the class.  I strongly suggest responding to more than 3 each week as several professors I have had consider answering solely 3 as “average” and will grade it as such.  Discussion post responses are also due by Sunday night.

As a side note, discussion posts are really what makes the class feel like a class.  It allows conversation to blossom and friendships to be built.  As you move on in your studies, you will find that the names in your classes become more familiar.  There are always new names of course, as people begin their studies with Anna Maria College but there will be several whom you already know and have had the chance to get to know through previous classes.

One of the things that I enjoy about the online classroom is these people you meet and get to know; they’re from all over the country!  Living in New England, I rarely get to be in a class with firefighters, officers, and chiefs from California, Arizona, and Idaho to name a few.  While the job remains basically the same no matter where you go, different areas have different challenges to overcome and of course, various ways to overcome them.  It is interesting and eye opening to hear how others face the day to day challenges and gives you more tools for your arsenal as you head out into your own piece of the world.

But I digress.  I am here today to make suggestions on how to make your studies easier to manage so you can reach your goal of graduation.  I have found that what works best for me is to prepare my own deadlines.  For example, I do my required reading and research over the weekend, whenever I find the time.  I have my post written and submitted by Monday night.  This gives me a few days leeway in case I am busier than I had anticipated.  I answer my minimum of 3 posts as soon as others have posted their responses for that week.  I will log in again on Wednesday or Thursday and respond to an additional 3 discussion questions minimum.  While I like meeting and hearing from new people, I make sure I respond and interact with those from previous classes as well.  This is where the friendships and mutual respect come in, making it feel like a traditional class.

About the Author

Shana Clark

Shana is a wife and a mom to 2 school age children. She also works full time as a Fire Investigator, has been in the fire service since 1999. Shana has returned to school and is receiving her bachelors in Fire Science from Anna Maria College Online.