Coming back to school can be a challenging and intimidating endeavor, let alone coming back to an online program. First, let’s demystify the misconception of online education.

Most of us have been, at one time or another, in the classroom setting. We understand the system: when to come into class, assignment deadlines, grading policies, and participation requirements from the professor.

Online programs are often misconceived as disengaging. From personal experience I can absolutely affirm that I’ve never felt more engaged by the professor and with the course content than in the online courses I’ve taken.

Sure, it is not the same as face-to-face interaction, but no student goes unnoticed - whether it be the assignment format, discussions boards, or simply the comments and feedback professors and classmates consistently provide throughout the course.

Engagement is an inevitable part of the online education experience.

Learning in an online format simply means your education takes place in a different modality. Learning still happens!

Everyone has different reasons for being in an online program: some because of work, others because of location, and most of us because of the flexibility.

Instead of going to traditional classroom, we go to our living room or kitchen table. Instead of going to the library, we can study in the comfort of our backyard or local Starbucks. Before we had a set time and place to attend class, we can now engage with the course materials at any hour of the day (though for me it has generally been when my daughter finally decides to fall asleep at 11:23 PM).

Here are a few tips to help you acclimate to the online environment:

Tip#1: Create your own learning experience

Your new best friends are your computer, internet, and Canvas! You used to have manila folders, 3-ring binders, and notebooks, now you have electronic folders and documents you need to manage.

Creating a process for storing all your content will be key in your success. Doing this will allow you to know exactly where your notes, assignments, and syllabi are. eLearning Industry suggests good record keeping methods while engaging in online learning. Some of the suggested resources are Dropbox or Google Docs (Biola email accounts have unlimited storage!).

These databases will help you easily access your work from anywhere while ensuring your work is being autosaved. I have still have nightmares of a 10-page essay not saving and my battery dying!

Tip#2: Know that you are not alone!

Be aware of the departments and resources that are available to you. Coming into an online program you may be tempted to feel a bit isolated and disconnected from your program and Biola as a whole.

Don't forget that we are here for you! The staff at Biola and faculty in your courses care about you and are ready to answer questions and address any concerns you may have during your time in the program.

Tip#3: Prepare, Plan and Execute!

Set goals for each of your courses. Set short term and long term goals for each assignment. You will be surprised how effective you can be when you take time to create a plan.

Biola University offers planning calendars for each term so you can have a visual of the goals and timeline for the workload in each of your courses. If you want more information on goal setting here is a link to our article on SMART Goals.


Getting The Most Out Of Your eLearning Course: 10 Study Tips For Online Learners - eLearning Industry

Seven Habits of Great Online College Students - Straighterline

Term Planning Calendar - Biola University

Online College Student Success Formula - Online College Plan

Want to learn a bit more about the resources available to you? Take a look at our other blog posts.

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