We had our first ever virtual induction day for the Professional Certificate/ Diploma in Special & Inclusive Education last weekend and we were delighted to welcome students from Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Australia and the UAE! The new term of both of our university courses commences today so we'd like to extend a very warm welcome to all new entrants!
If you are one of the students starting with us and have made the commitment, there are a few key points to consider with an online course. All through your programme, your tutors and classmates are there, you just cannot see them so make sure that you are comfortable without their physical presence. This is rather different from your more traditional learning context.
Online learning offers you considerable flexibility, but life can be distracting. You may be balancing work and family commitments while you are trying to learn and staying motivated is critical. Plan ways to stay motivated before you are tempted to stray!
1. Keep your goals in mind.
Remind yourself why you signed up for the course; this will keep you motivated. Keep your short term goals handy and mark off each one as it is achieved. This feels good and keeps you going. Make sure your long-term goals are handy too (including career goals), so that you can refer to them if you begin to feel stressed.
2. Get active on the boards/forums.
Participate and engage with your tutors and your classmates. Be a part of the ‘community of practice’ and help support the learning culture. Initiate dialogue, discuss, ask questions and present your views on each topic. Post your feedback in an appropriate and timely fashion. Be honest but be sensitive especially when you disagree with some-one’s point of view.
3. Connect with your classmates.
Post a little bit about yourself in the Social Forum. Let others know about your working situation, the ups and downs, and the things you have found to be successful with your students. Exchange ideas with the group and post helpful hints and resources. Show your support for ideas and be encouraging to your classmates.
4. Discuss what you learn.
Talk about what you are learning with colleagues in school. Talking about course material and ideas can really help you to understand more of the information and explore ways in which you can incorporate the material into your everyday practice. Talk to your tutor as well, there is a facility for individual ‘conversations’ on the course site. This is especially useful for clarifying assignments ideas and issues.
5. Apply what you learn.
Apply the ideas and strategies you learn where possible. Make connections between what you are learning and what you do in your school or classroom. Review how the strategies work in your context and give feedback to the group. This gives valuable insights to your classmates who will benefit from your experience.
6. Seek additional resources.
Resolve to pursue more knowledge outside the course material. Use the web and other recommended books and articles as and when necessary. This is essential to expanding your knowledge and understanding of the topic. Share good resources with classmates and colleagues.
7. Speak up if you are having problems.
Remember that your tutors cannot see you, so be really clear with your questions. If you are having technical difficulties contact the IT helpdesk. If you need help with coursework, contact your tutor via the email system. If you don’t understand something, chances are several people have the same question.
8. Stay positive.
Staying positive is a big part of the motivational process. This is where keeping in touch regularly with classmates and tutors can be very helpful. If you are feeling a little overloaded, you are likely not alone. Good time management helps alleviate stress so develop a plan and stick to it.
9. Reward yourself.
Take time out for YOU! You are working hard so you are going to need to take some time out to reward yourself. When you accomplish a goal, no matter how small, be sure to reward yourself with something positive. Regardless of what it is, a reward can really help you to stay motivated and on task. You can’t be expected to study, work, and manage a family all of the time, so be sure to reserve some time that is just for you.
10. You are not alone.
Remember that you are never alone when you are taking an online course. Even though you can’t see us, we are always there!! Keep the lines of communication open with classmates and tutors and you will be a successful and motivated online learner.
If you are interested in our university courses but have yet to enrol, we are running our next webinar about our MA in Special & Additional Learning Needs on Tues, 20th of October at 3pm. Join us and we'll take you through the details of the course and answer any questions you may have. Register here.