Managing your time

Time and eLearning

There are many benefits of eLearning such as its flexibility, but eLearning requires self-direction, the capability and willingness to direct one's own education.  This requires organization, motivation and a sense of confidence.  Here are some steps that are crucial for your success in completing elearning courses.

Schedule Weekly Study Times

  The amount of time you spend per week online for class and preparing for class varies by the student and by the course. Keep in mind that you need to allow for the time you would normally spend to study, plus the time you normally would have spent in the classroom. A common guideline is that 1 credit hour of coursework is often equal to approximately 3 clock hours per week of preparation time. A 3-credit hour course then would take approximately 9 hours a week outside the classroom. Remember to add the minimum of 3 hours per week you would normally have spent in class for a total minimum time invested of 12 hours per week. 

Studying, participating in discussion forums, and completing assignments in online courses can be difficult to manage especially with additional responsibilities.  Time management is critical for online students.  Successful students often schedule a regular study time each week.  Schedule your most demanding study times during your optimal alert time of the day (i.e., if you are a morning person then spend that time studying your most challenging subjects.)

Plan Ahead

 Avoid falling into a "catch-up" trap. When you fall behind, a common mistake is to go all the way back to where you left off. Instead, keep the memory curve high by working on the most current material before attempting to make up for lost work. Schedule a time to make-up the missed work on the weekend. Make sure to plan for exams. Make sure you know and optimize your exam timeframe. Balance your studying such that no subject is left behind.  Avoid cramming for tests by studying a small amount each day.  Even just 15 minutes every night before going to sleep will help you retain material.

If you instructor requires you to use new technology, such as Adobe Connect, test it out before the scheduled time to ensure your equipment is working. 

Log into the Course a Minimum of Three Times Per Week

Logging into the course consistently each week is associated with higher grades for students according to several studies on online student behavior.  Get in the habit of checking in consistently to read discussion posts, check for announcements and review course materials.  By reading and responding to classmate postings, you will begin to feel a part of a community.

Break down large tasks into small ones.

Attach deadlines to the small parts. Then like magic, the large task will get done. This is one of the simplest and most powerful of all structuring devices. Often a large task will feel overwhelming to you. The mere thought of trying to perform the task makes one turn away. On the other hand, if the large task is broken down into small parts, each component may feel quite manageable. 

Make Connections with Fellow Students

There are many ways to connect with online classmates.  You can send an email to ask a question, create a study group or use social media to collaborate. 

One of the most important writing techniques you can use in an online environment is to write your contributions in a word processing program instead of working online. This gives you four advantages. First, you can spend time composing your thoughts, jotting down ideas and reworking your text in draft format. Second, once your final draft is complete the software can double check your spelling and grammar. Third, this technique may save you from loosing your work if your Internet connection goes down, if your session times out or if there is a server issue. Fourth, you will have a copy of your work on your local machine.

Some tips for discussion board posts: 

  • When responding to fellow student, start your post politely.
  • Know the difference between reacting and responding.
  • Use clarity and brevity in your writing.
  • Use white space to make your posts readable.
  • Convey humor or sarcasm with emoticons [more information].
  • Be familiar with abbreviations utilized in chat rooms [more information].

Ask Questions

Instructors want to help, they want students to be successful and they expect students to ask questions.  You can e-mail your instructor or often instructors have a discussion board dedicated to student questions and ideas.  If you send an e-mail make sure to put your course number in the subject line.  Instructors often teach multiple courses so this helps them sort through the plethora of emails they receive during the day.  Before you ask a question be sure you know what you are asking and why. Be clear and concise in your communication.

Don't Forget to Take Study Breaks.

Make sure you schedule recreation for yourself and don't feel guilty about it. It will only help you perform better when you get back to the books.

Time Management Guides

Use these worksheets to measure your ability to manage and plan your time effectively.

Special thanks to Alice Carrot and the entire Student Counseling & Educational Support Services staff for the time management information and worksheets.

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Last modified: Feb 02, 2015