Online Learning: 10 Things You Need to Know to Stay Engaged

By February 13, 2014E-learning

YOnline Learning-10 thingsou’ve decided to sign-up for online classes. You’re excited about being able to learn on your own time at home. But what happens when the excitement begins to wear off and your online learning engagement fades?

By following a few simple steps and keeping some key things in mind, you can stay engaged throughout the entire online learning experience.


  1. Start Off on the Right Click

Being prepared before class starts probably goes without saying, but unlike traditional learning in a classroom, online learning requires a little more preparation.  In addition to purchasing all the materials you need for class, you should also make sure your computer is compatible with the online learning software and that you are using a high-speed internet line. If your hardware isn’t functioning properly, it can make staying engaged very frustrating.

  1. Getting Organized by Creating a Plan

One of the great things about online learning is that it offers flexibility, but this flexibility can make it hard to focus and stay organized. Employing time management skills and some discipline are the best ways to ensure you not only participate in class, but also make time to study and meet course deadlines. Make a weekly calendar with times set aside devoted just to your online class, and of course, don’t forget to keep track of deadlines in calendar as well.

  1. Eliminate Distractions

If you are participating in an online class, chances are you are doing all the work at home, which can provide many distractions. The best way to avoid distractions is to not have any in the first place. Keep your computer in a quiet room, away from the TV or highly trafficked spaces. Turn off your phone, don’t multitask and ask your family to keep noise down while you are in class mode.

  1. Preparing and Doing the Work

This goes without saying, but if you don’t actually do the work and prepare for each class, your engagement level will fall off within the first week. Remember, you’ve eliminated distractions and set aside time for the class, now it is time to stop procrastinating and just do the work.

  1. Take Time to Check-in

Most likely, you won’t have time to study every day, but that doesn’t mean you   shouldn’t take a few minutes to check-in online and see what is happening with your class. Set aside a few minutes every day to see if there are any new updates, questions or information that has been posted. This also a good time to ask any questions you might have about the class or materials.

  1. Participate, Participate, Participate

A very important aspect of online learning that is often neglected is participation. If you truly want to get the most out of your class, you can’t stay silent. You need to engage your professor. Let him/her know you are there and interested in what is happening in class. If you are struggling with material or have questions, don’t hesitate to ask them. This is also a great way for your professor to get feedback so they can adjust the class as needed.

  1. Connect with Other Students

Online learning can be a little lonely. Unlike a traditional classroom, peer-to-peer interaction is a bit more challenging online. Luckily, there are usually discussion rooms or forums as part of your online classroom. By joining in, you can share your experiences with your fellow students and help foster a community. Plus, it is always nice to have other people to talk to about the class with who are actually in the class.

  1. Don’t Wait for Others

If you don’t understand something, have a technical issue or having a problem completing an assignment, don’t wait for someone else to speak up. Remember, no one can help you if they don’t know what is going on, so when an issue arises, address it immediately.

  1. Apply what you are Learning

Chances are you are taking a class to help further your career, so why not apply your new knowledge to your work. It is a great way to keep new information top of mind and to see how your new skills apply to your everyday.

  1.  Reward Yourself

Take to time to reward yourself for a job well done. No matter how small the accomplishment, completing an assignment early or asking a question, set aside time each week to do something special. It will help to keep you engaged and provide much needed incentives.

Author Rick J. Stern

Entrepreneur Rick Stern built Xenegrade Corp with a focus on service to educational organizations. With an MBA from Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester and over 20 years continuing education management, his experience provides valuable insight into the needs, demands, and trends of the continuing education market.

More posts by Rick J. Stern

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