For those of you who have already taken the leap and are studying online, here are some ways to optimize your learning. If your course has taken advantage of a great online platform, such as our course which uses WizIQ, there are many tools and extras available for you to make the most out of your online experience. Here are some tips to try.
1) Use headphones
By using headphones, not only will you hear better and focus more on the class, but interaction is clearer, the teacher and other students can hear you better, and most of all, background noise is greatly reduced. Most people haven’t realized that newer notebooks with only one input jack allow you to use the headset from your cellphone.
2) Use the camera
An important part of making for a rewarding online experience is to feel closer to the teacher and your colleagues. Turning on your camera allows people to feel more connected and for language learning, remember that body language is a huge part of communication.
3) Show up on time
This may seem obvious to most, but remember that classes have been designed to fit a limited time slot and are fashioned where the subject matter and important set-up for the class comes in the beginning. There isn’t time to backtrack for latecomers. It’s like entering the movie theater 15 minutes after the film has started.
4) Make a learning folder
Archive your classes so you can refer back to them later to remove any doubts or to review what was presented. I suggest setting up a folder on your desktop with word docs that you name clearly for future reference. This is to be used with the next two items.
5) Print screen
Learn how to use the “Prt Sc” key on your keyboard. Practice with it offline so you can quickly copy any or all large text screens from your class for further reference. Paste this into your word doc in your learning folder.
6) Copy chat
If your course uses a well-designed platform, the chat room is another place where information is available. We use WizIQ which has a great chatroom that we utilize for error correction and to show spelling. With our chatroom, there is an option to “copy chat” at the end of the class. Do this and again, paste it into your learning folder word doc for future reference.
7) Watch recordings
A great platform also records the class. WizIQ makes recordings available a short time after the class for viewing by the students. Take advantage of this. It is also great if you happen to miss a group class you were scheduled for and want to see what you missed.
8) Join Facebook groups
A great course relies on social networking to build a community of learners. Join in. Often times, doubts, questions, hints and additional useful material is posted on this page (e.g. this blog post). Check back often for new posts.
Rob Howard is the owner of Online Language Center. He is a teacher, tutor, trainer, material designer and author for English as a foreign language. He is also a consultant and has been a frequent speaker internationally regarding online retention as well as using technology in and out of the classroom. Originally from Boston, Massachusetts in the U.S., he is currently residing in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.