1.14. PD How to be Successful in Online Professional Development

For some of you, this may be your first online course; for others, this might be one of many online courses you've taken. Regardless, we want to help you be successful in completing the course and using the curriculum effectively. Below are a list of tips for participating and completing online courses, culled from our years of experience in online teaching (and in being an online student), as well as from research on what helps online students succeed. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask them in the discussion forum.

Be Persistent

  • Persistence is perhaps the biggest key to success in online learning. Students who succeed are those who are willing to tolerate technical problems, seek help when needed, work daily on every class, and persist through challenges.
  • When you run into a problem, keep trying and ask for help.

Manage Your Time

  • You must be able to manage your time well. Most courses are not taught in real time. There are no set times for classes which can be a drawback for a student who procrastinates, is unable to stick to a routine study schedule, or is not able to complete assignments without daily reminders from a teacher. Effective time-management skills don't just happen; they have to be learned. Once you learn them, they will benefit you throughout your life. Follow the tips below to develop yours:
    • Make a daily to-do list. Have fun checking things off as you complete them.
    • Block off a part of your day that will be as “distraction-free” as you can make it in order to complete the work efficiently and well.
    • If you run into a problem, quickly ask for assistance instead of just sitting there waiting for your allotted time to run out for the day.

Make Connections With Your Peers

  • The more connections you make with fellow students, the more supported you will feel with the course and more comfortable with asking questions.
  • We also encourage you to become familiar with the mentors and the Mobile CSP team; we are here to help you succeed in this course.

Communicate: Speak Up If Problems Arise

  • One of the most frustrating things with online courses is that it can be really easy to be intimidated to speak up when you have questions or if something isn’t working. It is very important to communicate if you are having problems with something in the course because the teachers for the course unfortunately cannot see your reaction to the material to help gauge student understanding.
  • Need help? There is a "Need Help" category in the discussion forum that we encourage you to post in as often as you need. Attending one of the weekly office hour sessions via Google Hangouts will also give you a chance to talk to a member of the Mobile CSP team and ask your questions directly.

Stay Motivated

  • It is important that with most classes, especially online classes, motivation is higher at the beginning and typically takes a dip a little ways into the course. Being conscience of this fact can help you with planning how to handle a decrease in motivation for getting work done ahead of time.
  • Think of something you can use as motivation before the course starts; once you need the motivation to get something done, it is much more difficult to think of things to motivate you.
  • Think about creating a reward system for yourself for staying on schedule and being successful in the course.

Find a Good Study Environment

  • Make sure you find a place that you can successfully work
    • Find a place that has a noise level that allows you to complete work.
    • Find a place with minimal distractions and you are comfortable.
    • Find a place with good internet connection - it can be really frustrating if web pages won’t load or if you can’t hear the online web conference because connection is poor.

Stay on Schedule

  • Create a system that works for you to help you know deadlines (some people use planners, others use lists, etc.)
  • Don’t let yourself fall victim to the "I’ll do that next time" mentality; it can snowball really quickly in an online course.
  • Check in frequently - check announcements, forums, attend hangouts. We recommend checking in at least 2-3 times a week even if you complete your coursework in a single day each week.
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