The ABCs of Success in Distance Education Part 2

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As you continue your journey researching distance education and how to become a successful learner in the online environment, we will examine letters D, E, and F in the Distance Education Alphabet.

D: Dedicate time to study

I understand that at times life can get in the way of your education. PTO meetings, long hours at work, making dinner every night- I understand. But when you submitted your application for school you made a commitment to yourself that you would complete your degree (this time). I’m sure you did not apply thinking one day you would withdraw; you applied with the expectation of graduating.

With this in mind, be sure you are giving yourself time to read the assigned class material and study it. I once learned in a psychology class at FSU that information studied within two hours of going to bed will not be retained at as high a percentage as that studied more than two hours before bed. So if every night you go to bed at 11:30pm (you know, after the nightly news), then you should not be studying past 9:30pm. How would this be possible with a family and household responsibilities? By dedicating time to your studies. Make dinner, get the kids in bed by 9:00pm and give yourself 30 minutes to read 5 pages of text; by the end of the week you will have 35 pages read.

E: Exhaust your email

Email will become your best friend in the distance learning environment. Question about an assignment? Email the instructor. Question about your graduation date? Email your academic advisor? Question about completing your FAFSA? Email the Financial Aid Department. Soon you will see that email is a quick and easy way to communicate with your school and instructor. Remember, just because it is convenient for you to call on your lunch break doesn’t mean staff will be available at that same moment; how many other students are calling on their lunch break? By sending an email, not only have you accomplished a task for the day, but you have created a conversation in writing to be referenced at a later date (if need be).

F: Finish every assignment

Remember letter D in the alphabet? Well, here is where those short moments of study time helps when assignment due dates are fast approaching. While I’m always an advocate for submitting work on time, even if it means staying up late one night, I understand that at times there may be circumstances beyond your control. In such cases, you should always email your instructor, explain the situation, and request to submit work late with the understanding that a late penalty may be assessed. Regardless, by the last day of your class you should confirm that all assignments have been submitted (unless the instructor has stated late work will not be accepted) and there are not any outstanding zeros in the grade book. In fact, you should be viewing your grade book at minimum once per week so you always know where you stand in the class and the opportunities that await to earn a better grade.

Ashley Benson is a distance education professional with five years of experience in the for-profit sector. She has worked coast-to-coast within the United States as an academic advisor, an adjunct teaching assistant and, most recently, a campus Registrar. Through formal education and industry experience, Ashley practices staying informed on the current events and changes within higher education and the students involved.

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