Course Guide

Strategies for Success

In some ways, taking a course through distance education is different from learning in a face-to-face classroom. For example, distance education often requires a high level of independent learning and uses of a variety of digital communication technologies. The following sections provide some suggestions that can assist your progress through the course.

Familiarize yourself with the course materials and resources

After you have read this Course Guide and explored the Student Handbook, review the other course materials so you know what is expected and can plan your coursework time effectively.

Review the learning outcomes as you complete each lesson

As you complete each lesson, review the learning outcomes to ensure that you have achieved them. If you feel unsure about your ability to meet any of these outcomes, review the relevant study material and/or consult your Open Learning Faculty Member.

Read, view, and listen actively and critically

As you read, keep a pen (or electronic note-taking device) handy. If you make careful notes on key ideas and jot down the page numbers of essential passages, you can save yourself hours of searching for references when you complete your assessments. Your notes also will be useful if you develop contributions to online discussions and when you prepare for exams. Develop your skills to evaluate what you read. Are the author’s arguments logical? Is the evidence valid? Do you agree with an argument? What are the alternatives to the author’s point of view? Your answers to these questions will help you to develop informed opinions about your readings.

Complete all learning activities as if they were being graded

Activities provide you with opportunities to explore topics related to your course materials. Although these activities are ungraded, they are designed to help you build the skills you need to successfully complete your assessments.

Participate actively in the online discussions

In a paced online course, it is important to communicate with your fellow learners and Open Learning Faculty Member on a regular basis. Participating in a learning community provides opportunities for support, access to a variety of individual viewpoints, and stimulation of new ideas, all of which can contribute to your learning success. Use the discussions as a way to reflect on, clarify, and communicate your perspectives on the course learning materials.

Appreciate the diversity of your community of learners

In an online learning environment, student cohorts usually include learners from a diverse range of ages, cultural backgrounds, and geographical home communities. Diversity and the variety of individual perspectives of other students can provide you with many valuable learning experiences. Since by definition diversity includes difference, it is important for all participants in learning communities to be open to considering others’ perspectives, values, and positions; and to communicate in a courteous, respectful way. Even though this does not mean you must always agree, part of academic discourse is considering opposing viewpoints and perspectives. Increasingly, employers seek out employees who are skilled at appreciating diversity and who can work collaboratively with those who have different experiences, perspectives, and values.