I completed my Masters of Education in Learning and Technology through synchronous (and asynchronous) e-Learning. Since it cost thousands of dollars I figured the least I could do was offer up my “two cents” on the subject.
As a working mother of two the main appeal of synchronous learning was convenience. I didn’t have to hire a babysitter, commute to/from traditional classroom, pay for parking, sit in traffic, or sit in a wooden desk chair for 90 minutes without a break. All big positives! Secretly, I have to admit I thought the online degree would be “easier” than the traditional classroom undergraduate degree I had already completed (suffered). Any of you who have completed an online degree are no doubt rumbling a sinister laugh right now, because you know just how misguided and naïve that “easier” assumption turned out to be.
While the convenience part of the degree certainly panned out, the “easier” part was not entirely true. I found out very quickly that the online degree required more deliberate participation, clearer communication skills, greater organization, careful preparation, and discipline! Now, let me step back a moment and say that in my “life before BLP” I was a high school teacher. So, you would assume I had some skill at communication, organization, preparation, and discipline…dare I point out the “assume”.
I thought I would share some tips on how to maximize your synchronous e-Learning:
- Remove all distractions…headphones and a closed door can be your friend (don’t forget to close all those other windows on your computer, too…no checking email!).
- Use the mute button on your phone or headset…this is more for your fellow learners than for you.
- Ask questions…this seems obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how much experienced learners assume.
- Take turns…yes, it’s a kindergarten rule, but remember there are other learners who need the facilitator’s time and expertise.
- Map out your own internal deadlines…this is the discipline of setting small goals for yourself – your own workplan.
- Get input from your professor/facilitator…make sure you’re on the right path or share your ideas, so you don’t waste time or energy.
Perhaps these are common sense tips and quite possibly things you already do you in your job, but that justifies these tips even more. Perhaps the overall tip should be that you don’t leave your business practices at the door, apply your good business work habits to your new learning habit.