Succeed in Online Learning with Simple Guidelines

You can succeed in learning online, but you need to start by following these guidelines

Globalization has made an enormous difference to the way we live and work, and I don’t just mean the impact of petrol prices on our driving habits. Communicating with someone on the other side of the world is just as easy as communicating with someone next door. People change jobs more often than before, and jobs change just as frequently. And all these changes underscore the importance of education in this globalized, competitive, technology-driven, knowledge-based economy where skilled jobs in plumbing, roofing, manufacturing, and electric – are short-staffed.

Of course, this is why so many people study on-campus at university or college. But many others already have jobs or other commitments and so cannot attend on-campus classes. If you are one of these people, online learning provides a flexible solution. But to succeed you need to take account of the following six guidelines.

When you study on-campus, other people organize much of your study time. With online learning, you have to organize it yourself. So be organized” manage your time. Set aside a regular time in your diary for the study of the material as if you were attending classes. And complete assignments well before the due dates. That way you have time to check them and also avoid those last-minute things that go wrong when you’re late. Do not be a poor time manager.

Living and working in today’s ever-changing world demand life-long learning. And so if you wish to continue to be part of it, you must have a desire to learn and be motivated to learn for the rest of your life. So this means wanting to learn even when there is no extrinsic motivation (e.g., a salary increase).

Unfortunately, many of us were not taught how to learn. Instead, we were only taught to remember things and to apply rules. Somewhere along the way, we were expected to acquire the skills to acquire knowledge. In today’s world, it is essential that we know how to learn. In particular, learning online requires that you develop these skills. This not only means having the technical skills of how to find books or web sites on a topic, but it also means having well-developed critical reading and thinking skills.

For many of us, our school experience has taught us to be passive learners – we were told the knowledge, we learned it by rote and then we repeated it in an exam. Passive learning seemed to be a useful strategy for success. Unfortunately, that is not a useful strategy for success in today’s world, or, indeed, in online learning. If you are learning online, the courseware often includes questions, exercises, and further reading so that your learning can be active rather than passive. You must make sure that you complete all the exercises and that you thoroughly interact with the material.

Lectures in high school classrooms and in undergraduate classes can all so easily encourage the passive learning already referred to. But real learning takes place when you are interacting with the materials and with others. So try to find a learning group, either in your area or online, and exchange ideas regularly. Also, make sure that you respond to all the e-Tutors requests for participation in the discussion forums. There may even be a mark allocated for such participation.

Don’t be tempted to buy a qualification from a diploma mill – a business that simply prints diplomas and degrees. Such qualifications are worthless in the eyes of employers and genuine educational institutions, so will just be a waste of your money. Always take an accredited program from an accredited institution.

Is Distance Learning Right For You?

Because I have the experience of being a Dean of an online Texas university, I’m accustomed to dealing with the spectrum of issues related to online students, online professors, online courses, and their various interactions. For online students, this website provides help for students who are unsure about their online school choice or the important questions they need to answer before they can make that decision.  There are between 1,200 and 1,600 online universities that provide online degree programs.  Online students must be able to distinguish between “diploma mills” and institutions that provide accredited, quality online degree programs.  In addition to helping students find the right online university, I will also share some personal observations and best practice information about how to maximize your online learning experience.

Online learning is growing rapidly for three basic reasons.  First, it costs much less to obtain your degree from an online university than a traditional “brick and mortar” university.  The online schools do not have to pay for all those classrooms and other buildings, in addition to tenured professors who are often more interested in publishing research than teaching students. Continue reading “Is Distance Learning Right For You?”

Academic Qualifications for an Online Professor?

We are going to continuously add additional ideas about what we believe are the keys to online teaching effectiveness, but we will begin with just five categories and will go from there.  As the Dean of an online university, these are the five most important “keys to online teaching success” I can offer based on the many hundreds of course evaluation surveys I’ve read and conversations I have had with online students.  Please feel free to suggest additional teaching effectiveness tips that we should add to this resource. Continue reading “Academic Qualifications for an Online Professor?”

Re-Focusing Corporate Training

These days there are tremendous pressures to reduce costs.  Training budgets are one of the first to get slashed.  After all, the training is very expensive.  Often times the cost of trainers are just the tip of the iceberg compared with the travel costs and productivity lost due to time off from work to attend training sessions.

In addition to the cost issue, there is concern about the quality of corporate learning.  Accenture, one of the world’s largest and most respected consulting firms, has been researching the characteristics and business practices that contribute to and detract from high performance.  Accenture’s research indicates most senior executives now view people and workforce-related issues as a critical competitive differentiator in defining high-performance companies.  Unfortunately, Accenture’s 2006 survey found “…a very small percentage of executives, including those leading the HR and learning functions, said they were very satisfied with the support those functions provided to not only the organization at large but to what executives described as their company’s most critical workforces.”  Accenture recommends corporate HR and learning functions enable and facilitate people’s development as well as understand where the learning gaps and shortfalls really are. Continue reading “Re-Focusing Corporate Training”

Community College: A Wonderful Way to Begin College

A community college is a two-year college operated by a city, county, or state which offers diplomas, certificates, and/or associate-level degrees. Community colleges often offer in excess of 50 different degree programs, some designed to facilitate transfer to four-year programs and others leading to careers immediately after completion. Continue reading “Community College: A Wonderful Way to Begin College”

Who is Studying Online?

Yoni Ryan, Director of the Learning and Teaching Centre at the Australian Catholic University who reports having conducted extensive research into online learning, says she knows many IT undergraduates who have a preference for online study. She believes it is because they were a bit “geekish” in high school and failed to develop the social skills that most of these students are pursuing degree programs online rather than are a traditional classroom setting.

I have not conducted any specific research that could refute Yoni’s claims, but these are certainly not consistent with my experience. While teaching online, I have hosted many virtual meetings with online students and have not found them lacking in communication skills or unwilling to form relationships. Continue reading “Who is Studying Online?”

Online Colleges: Technology Meets Education

You see advertisements for them every day: “Get your online bachelor’s degree at your convenience and get a better job.” And in fact, if done right, an online university can provide you just the education you need, without having to significantly alter your life to make room for a class schedule. This is because you can take classes online at your convenience, at night, or whenever you can schedule some free time. This makes it much easier to hold down a full-time job, take care of your children, or any other number of things you would have to juggle if you were to go back to school full time on a traditional campus. Continue reading “Online Colleges: Technology Meets Education”

Plagiarism-Detection Software & Online Classes

In their efforts to deter plagiarism, many universities are using plagiarism-detection software. To be more precise, however, the most popular software products like Turnitin and SafeAssignment compare students’ submissions to databases composed of journal articles, news reports, and student research papers to identify “matches.” These matches indicate reasons for additional investigation by professors, but do not prove that acts of plagiarism have occurred. Continue reading “Plagiarism-Detection Software & Online Classes”

Online Cheating: a Big Problem?

Before searching for cost-effective ways to comply with the new law, the question must be asked, “Do we really have a problem so serious a new law was required?” Is cheating associated with online exams currently such a serious problem? One person who thinks the new law is not needed is the Executive Director of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), Michael Lambert: “There are lawmakers who do not believe that you can really learn from online classes…The law presumes people cheat and that people aren’t honest. It’s always been a question raised by people who do not understand how we teach.” The new law does seem to question the integrity of online education and implies cheating is a more serious problem at online versus traditional schools. Continue reading “Online Cheating: a Big Problem?”

Taxing Online Education

It is not yet law, but the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance issued an opinion earlier this year distance education courses are subject to state sales tax. Some states already impose a sales tax on educational software. The New York opinion discounted the value of the faculty interaction aspect of the educational service provided by a certain distance education provider by the name of SkillSoft. Even though students can only access the learning resources provided by SkillSoft online this opinion in New York states, “constitutes a transfer of possession of the software because the customer gains constructive possession of the software and gains the right to use, or control or direct the use of the software.” So just by having access to educational software, even though such access is part of an educational service that includes mentoring/teaching by an educator, the State of New York believes students should pay sales tax for this distance learning experience. Continue reading “Taxing Online Education”

Top Online Colleges Allow You To Advance Your Career

Online universities and colleges have revolutionized distance learning, providing greater convenience, and opening new doors for a lot of people who want to increase their career potential. If you are interested in getting a degree online, there are a number of things you should consider.

The first thing you have to make sure of is if online education is right for you. Enrolling in an online university or college is ideal for working people or stay-at-home parents. If your other priorities leave you no opportunity to make it to scheduled classes, taking courses online is the best way to go, provided you have a good amount of self-discipline when it comes to time management. Online education is really for people who do very well with minimum supervision. It can also provide that second chance at further education for older adults who may not feel too comfortable attending classes with people who are a lot younger. Continue reading “Top Online Colleges Allow You To Advance Your Career”

Distance Learning in Rural Settings

The term “distance learning” describes the process of connecting learners to remote educational resources. Distance learning uses such communication technologies as teleconferencing, videoconferencing, satellite broadcast, and computer-based training (including DVDs and the Internet) to enhance an organization’s instructional strategies and to allow the strategies to reach a broader audience with more flexibility.

From Why Rural Matters comes the following policy recommendation:

Distance learning is one strategy that has proven to be effective in ensuring that schools and districts are able to provide rich curricula without restructuring and uprooting students and communities. If rural schools and communities are to take advantage of the benefits offered by technology, they must have financial and policy assistance in developing and maintaining the kind of technology infrastructure, interlocal cooperation, and program coordination that will support the use of distance learning among clusters of rural schools.”

Other nuggets can be found therein on what needs to happen to ensure that rural communities are able to take the best advantage of online learning opportunities. Worth a gander for those interested in the intersection of rural education and technology. Continue reading “Distance Learning in Rural Settings”

Reducing Costs and Maximizing Resources in Education

The dilemma of increasing enrollments combined with budget cuts can be eased by technology per a recent white paper released by the Center for Digital Education entitled:

Rethinking Processes, Reducing Costs, and Maximizing Resources in Education.

The paper indicates that technology supporting new processes will assist university and school system administrators to focus on opportunities to eliminate inefficiencies, identify innovative cost savings, and reinvest those savings into core objectives.

Accomplishing an institution or system’s core objectives when supported by technology is discussed using the following five methods: strategic sourcing, streamlining, shared service strategies, outsourcing, and enterprise energy management. A list of institutions highlighted in the report include:

  • New York City Dept. of Education,
  • University of Texas-Austin
  • University of Ulster, Northern Ireland
  • South Carolina Dept. of Education
  • Nippersink School Dist.2 in Illinois
  • Detroit Public Schools, TAFE, Queensland
  • University of California-Santa Barbara
  • Beaverton Oregon School Dist.

Review the entire white paper.

Using Technology In The High School Classroom

With high school teachers facing more pressure than ever to prepare their students for the all-important state standardized exams, AP exams, and college admissions exams, what role does technology have in preparing students for these all-important tests? Or does the current system force issues the other way – the packed programs necessary to ready kids for standardized exams pushing teachers away from implementing new technology in the classroom?

After all, there is always a learning curve when it comes to applying new technologies, would a teacher who takes the time to implement a laptop program in their course pay the consequences when it comes exam time if the new time taken to implement the technology costs valuable cramming/prep time?

Unfortunately, many overworked high school teachers view technology as a tack-on to an already chock-full curriculum, rather than as an essential part of learning. Can you necessarily blame them? Without implementation from the top-down, technology in the classroom will always lag behind the real-world implementation. Continue reading “Using Technology In The High School Classroom”

Transforming Leadership Practice and Schools

Connect Lead Succeed partners with districts, Charter Management Organizations and other education organizations to develop and empower leaders to effectively execute school-wide transformational change and drive higher student achievement gains.  In partnership, we launch high-functioning professional learning networks for school leaders.

CLS professional learning networks provide 40 hours of rigorous, ongoing leadership development. Once a month, for ten consecutive months, leaders, leave the isolation of their schools, to join with 12-18 of their peers in a four- hour community of practice where they deep dive into actionable strategies for improving academic results.

CLS professional learning networks are distinguished by five key components:

1. Student Achievement Goal and Strategy

At the outset of the formation of a professional learning network, leaders hone their aspirations for school-wide student achievement gains by identifying a single student achievement goal and a strategy for attaining that goal.

2. Learning Focus: School Transformation

Learning is focused on the five leadership domains that research has identified as being most effective in improving school and student performance using CLS’ Design for Leading Framework.

3. Inquiry to Solve Problems of Practice 

Connect Lead Succeed professional learning networks function as a form of action-research to allow leaders to continually question, reevaluate, refine and improve thier leadership knowledge and practice. Leaders engage in inquiry-based learning and reflection in a safe, practice rich environment. Problems of practice are discussed and resolved using peer collaboration and coaching to foster professional growth.

4. Capacity Building

Professional learning networks build the capacity of leaders to facilitate high-functioning professional learning communities in their schools. Leaders gain experience of and access to new protocols, tools and resources for facilitating collaborative learning and for building instructional and teacher leadership. As school leaders become better at promoting leadership across their sites, leadership capacity grows school- and district-wide.

5. A High-Functioning Learning Environment 

oSkilled educators trained to facilitate inquiry-based, leadership development and, communities of practice lead SLN professional learning networks. Rigorous facilitation ensures the kind of intentionality, planning and in-the-moment changes that are essnetial to a high-quality network learning experience. Regular surveys of participants ensure individual learning nees are being met and drive data-driven continuous improvements.

Learn more about the Connect Lead Succeed network learning experience.


Impact data shows that schools led by leaders who participate in a CLS professional learning network achieve substantial gains in student achievement. Increased student learning is a result of:

  • Stronger school leadership
  • Increased instructional and teacher leadership
  • Enhanced school cultures
  • Higher school performance
  • Improved principal retention

Participation in an CLS professional learning network increases the effectiveness, efficacy and tenacity of school leaders to advance instructional and teacher leadership, school performance and academic achievement.