eLearning Courses: Time Management Tips for Success
Time management for college students is one of the most difficult aspects of success. With the increasing prevalence of eLearning courses and degree programs, including the free college tuition program for Starbucks employees through ASU’s online extension, more students are faced with the challenge of time management in a new learning environment: the comfort of their own homes.
As someone who took eLearning courses in college, I remember the new time management challenges that came with this independent form of study. There were aspects of college life I had trouble balancing to begin with – homework, relationships, and work – and the autonomous nature of eLearning courses required even more discipline.
In order to identify common themes in eLearning course time management for college students, I interviewed five current or former eLearning students from different colleges who have taken online courses, as well as reflected on my own experiences. Whether you are planning to take eLearning courses in the future or want to refine your time management strategies, here is some advice that will help you be successful.
The challenge of discipline
Based on my interviewees’ responses and my own experiences, staying disciplined seems to be a common challenge for college students taking eLearning courses.
Jeremy, a former student of the University of Hawaii, has worked in management positions for small businesses since graduation. He compared taking eLearning courses to his management experience because it requires a student to be his or her own boss.
“It sounds easy, but it’s very hard to be your own boss. It requires discipline, and that’s what I struggled most with taking online courses through the university,” Jeremy said.
Overall, from my interviews there were three specific aspects of time management discipline that were especially challenging: staying disciplined and staying on top of course deadlines, creating a consistent homework or reading plan, and remaining free of distractions when studying at home.
Tips for time management
There are a few time management methods that worked for me and those I interviewed, as well as things we would do differently if we were enroll in another eLearning course in the future.
Here are a few small but highly effective steps you can take to stay organized and prevent last-minute procrastination drawn from our personal experiences:
Create a calendar planning system. Alexandra, a current student at Portland State University who has taken many eLearning courses, picked up an inexpensive corkboard from an art supply store and transformed it into a calendar planner for her homework, readings, and exam prep. Using sticky notes, she can keep track of what she should be doing each day and also remember important upcoming deadlines and exam dates. This is a great visual approach to calendar planning that has worked well for Alexandra, but even a simple planner from the store worked well for me and other former eLearning students I interviewed.
Allocate a daily time slot to the eLearning course. Not having an official time to plan around for eLarning courses seems to make it easier to procrastinate and leave things until the last minute. However, by allocating a specific daily time slot (e.g. 9-10:30 a.m. daily, or 2-4 p.m. Monday and Wednesday) to dedicate to that course’s content, those I interviewed that put this practice into place found that their time management in the eLearning course significantly improved.
Maintain correspondence with the instructor and other students. This final piece of advice is one which more than one of my interviewees mentioned as something they would do differently in the future. As student organization can be a challenge in eLearning courses, it can also be a challenge for instructors to stay organized and communicative with their students in laying out expectations and timelines for coursework and exam prep.
If something is unclear, be sure to reach out to your instructor by e-mail or phone and ask for clarification. This will ensure you are staying on top of deadlines and can manage your time most efficiently.
Moreover, corresponding with other students about course material and even arranging a group study meet-up prior to an exam can not only enhance your understanding of content, but also help with time management. Once you connect with other students in the course, you may discover strategies other students are using to stay on track and can incorporate those ideas into your own success plan.
Finding a system that works for you
The advice listed here is a great jumping off point, but for the students I interviewed, this was a trial-and-error process. It sometimes takes several eLearning courses to discover the system that works best for you. Try out different time management strategies to find the one that makes you work most efficiently.
Overall, the important thing to keep in mind is to try and stay organized and proactive in your eLearning course, and you will find ways to be successful.