|I've taken several online
courses and am currently enrolled in an online Master's in
Education program... (Btw, I highly recommend distance learning
- it's convenient and a very interesting way to learn.)
Here are some tips for students (teachers) taking an online
course for the first time:
- Buy your books right away
and, if possible, start reading before your class
starts. The two time consuming parts of your classes
will be the reading and the essays.
- A few days before your
course starts, you'll be e-mailed all pertinent info
concerning logging in, etc. Be sure to log in and look
around immediately. If you delay at all, you can
easily start to procrastinate and feel behind before you
- E-mail the teacher and
introduce yourself. This will let you feel more a part
of a class.
- Many courses will form
groups for projects, however, if this is not the case, try
to make a friend in the class. (There will usually be
a way for you to email the class to seek out study
friends.) It's always good to have a study-buddy to
have read your assignments before you turn them in.
This is also a great way to make friends around the
country! Remember that teachers LOVE sharing ideas!
- Most likely, you'll be
participating in moderated online discussions via a message
board. They usually require that you make one post,
then respond to one or more other posts. Be SURE to
make your initial post at the beginning of the week, so
others (including the instructor) can respond to you.
You'll learn from the feedback and, again, you'll feel more
apart of a class. Once that week is up, no one ever
goes back to that thread.
- DON'T GET BEHIND! The
reading and essays can really pile up if you let them.
- Plan on spending anywhere
from 8-15 hours a week on your course, depending on the
- Apply what you are learning
into your classroom right away! This way, you can
discuss concerns and conquests with your instructor for
- Here's the most important
thing: MAKE THE MOST OF THIS EXPERIENCE! An
education is an exciting thing. Being involved again
with learning has spurred me on to read additional books,
etc. In fact, many of the things I've learned about
are included on this site!
Here are some extra issues concerning the
district paperwork side:
- Always double check with
your district before signing up for any courses you plan to
apply towards salary advancement to be sure that the college
and courses are fully accredited and acceptable.
- Let your district know that
you will be taking courses.
- If you are planning to jump
to the next pay column for the next year, be sure to ask
your district for the deadline that you have to have your
transcripts in by.
- Districts will often send
out a questionnaire in the spring asking for who is
expecting to jump a column. (So they can plan the next
year's budget.) Be sure to fill it out and turn it in!
(Ask your district about this.)
- Sometimes a new degree will
be enough units to jump you two columns... Many districts
will not let you jump two columns at once. If this is the
case, be sure to turn in half of the units the first year to
get that first jump in. Then, turn in the rest the
second year for the second jump.
- Some districts and/or
schools have an official catalog of faculty and their
respective degrees... Be sure to have your new degree added
to your listing!
- Be sure to let your
principal (or dean) know about your continuing
education. They love this kind of thing and may even
want you to share what you are learning with your