Dealing with Dead Weight in Your Online College Class Groups

Did you ever know a friend with an uncle Joe that would come over, eat all your friend’s food, sleep on the couch, play video games and refuse to look for a job or take on any responsibility beyond putting the pillows back on the couch in the morning after he woke up?

We’ve all some across people we felt were leeching off of others. What may have started as a friendly offer to help someone in need can occasionally take the form of entitlement. A lack of work ethic is not the only reason that someone may join a group in your online college class and fail to pull his or her own weight. But whatever the reason you need to learn to handle such situations so as to not let someone else keep you from accomplishing what you set out to do.

In my experience listlessness or slacking off happens most when there is not clarity and unity in a group. One of these issues deals with organization and the other deals with emotional cohesion. Some come to the table with the idea that it’s about all business and often get put with those who need more of an emotional connection with those with whom they are working. They may come to the group and assume the role of leader, determining the direction of the group, but if everyone has not bought into the idea themselves the group support of the project may be in for a bumpy ride.

Either extreme in personality can be problematic. The business minded individual can leave people not wanting to participate and the emotional individual can spend all their time developing relationships and not getting any work done. Keep it in your head that relationships aren’t incidental to your group work, but essential; and also that teamwork isn’t the only goal of your group getting together, you have a task to accomplish and it won’t help you to be united in going out for ice cream if you don’t get your work done.

One key to navigating the sometimes turbulent waters of an online college group is communication. We all grow up in different households with different communication styles. Some have learned to be highly sensitive to an agitated adult such that they instinctively react when they feel some sort of tension. Others never shared feelings growing up and are more likely to bottle feelings and thoughts if it means confrontation. Knowing this can help you establish clear communication between everyone in an online college class group.

For example, communicating with the group in small and simple ways lets them know when you are going to do things and when you have to duck out. It may be apparent to you that something else needs to take priority, but in not letting the group know where you are at in terms of confidence in the direction of the project, doubt in your ability to achieve your assumed role or anything else leaves them open to assuming what’s in your head. If you are feeling something, share it. Keeping it in will only leave people guessing as to what you are thinking. Also make it a habit of asking others what they think and feel about ideas you present or how the group is progressing.

These are some ideas to help those who are starting to get behind in group work. If your communication with them has been clear and they still are not meeting obligations it’s time to get your online class instructor involved (you may already have been involving him on the progress and he or she may have naturally seen that one was not pulling their weight). Always give the benefit of the doubt and be as understanding as you can, but don’t jeopardize your own class success because someone is choosing not to participate. Good luck!

Interacting with Your Online School Classmates

Have you ever been to a busy doctor’s waiting room or on a crowded elevator? Then you know how it can feel to be surrounded by people and everyone is afraid to talk. The first day of class can be like that.

One of the best ways to start to get to know others is to let them know who you are first. If you have the venue in your online school to create a profile make sure to fill it out. Because you don’t know everyone yet, don’t get too personal, but you may put a picture of yourself up, what state you are in and your occupation and a hobby or two. Sometimes people that share too much information with others they don’t know scare people off. Put down just enough to give everyone who looks at your profile a well rounded picture of you. You can include schools you attended and what you studied.

Teachers will often create some sort of getting to know you game to address the above mentioned first day fright. Try something next time you start an online class. Make it a point to get to know and memorize the names of everyone in your class. If you have some sort of official introduction time take notes. Jot down interesting things about people and ask them later how their new kid is sleeping at nights or what the score of their Saturday city league baseball game was. Engage them in conversation about how their life is going outside of class if they’re comfortable.

Getting to know your classmates in a proactive way can help both you and them feel more engaged in your class. A more friendly feeling between you and other students can come in handy if you hit some rough times during the course of the semester. Reaching out to a friend in the class who knows how hard a certain assignment is can be reassuring and be just what you need to move on and get over the fear hurdles you may encounter.

One of the best ways to help others start to feel comfortable with sharing about themselves is to volunteer information first. You may reach out and say, “Hi, I’m Gordon from Alabama. What’s your name?” It’s small, but it’s a start. It’s this mutual sharing that helps develop strong relationships that can be nourishing and sustaining.

I’d like to share one note on your tone in the interactions you have with other online school classmates. If you are interacting on a project with a group it’s good to keep a more professional tone. One to one interactions are more appropriate for a much more playful and personal expression of interest in what they are doing in their lives.

Being proactive in building trusting relationships with other students can help down the road if you end up getting put on a project or group assignment together. More understanding is typically extended to those who work hard and put themselves out there to get to know others and share about themselves. You’ll benefit in many ways by reaching out and interacting often with your online college classmates. Good luck!

Getting the Lowdown from an Instructor of an Online College Class

Because academic advisor’s and recruiters are often more aimed at getting students to attend the online school they represent it’s a good idea to get a different perspective. You can ask to talk with the instructor that will be teaching the course you plan on taking. This will help you get a more realistic picture of what’s expected, the class content and more.

If you receive resistance when you ask to speak to an instructor you may let them know you’re also investigating other online institutions so they feel a sense of urgency. If a teacher is not available to talk with prospective students it may not be much better once you become a student. A good institution will encourage their instructors to interact with you. After all, they want you to attend their school.

When you are able to talk with a teacher ask them some or all of the following questions.

What are teacher requirements? Some institutions may train their teachers, while others will require a certain degree or certification from their instructors. If an emphasis is not placed on experience in the given field you may be better off looking elsewhere.   A professor that has experience in the field can help you understand the practical application of the subject. They can also help you identify how to spot good opportunities and how to prepare for them.

How much work is this class? Grades are often a reflection of met teacher expectations. Make sure you understand what’s expected before you commit.

How available are you and the other professors? Students learn best when they can ask questions & get quick responses, even if it is to be directed into a general direction to begin their own search. If the instructors are too busy to respond quickly you may find yourself stalling in your studies. There is nothing worse that feeling stuck. Make sure that teachers regularly get back with students within a day or two, maybe even less if it’s an accelerated class.

Follow up with, What avenues are available for help? If there aren’t clear ways for students to get help with technical issues, course questions, career guidance and learning support it may be an indication that their process for these things are weak and may fail when you need to utilize them. You can also ask what their professor’s opinion of these resources are, though keep in mind that they are likely to be fairly loyal to their institution.

Getting an instructor’s view of the courses and program can be very helpful. It may also give you an idea if you are going to get along and be able to learn well from them. It’s so easy to skip this step when considering online colleges, but taking it can give you quit a different feel for the program. Don’t wait until the first day of class to realize that you’ve made the right choice or a big mistake. Good luck!

How to Combat Distractions While Taking Online College Classes – Part III

Continued From: How to Combat Distractions While Taking Online College Classes – Part II

Another way to maximize your time and your studies online is to make sure you take time everyday for some strenuous activity. Sports can be fun. You may also enjoy running by yourself. Playing ball with groups of people can help you find important social interaction. While going for a jog or other activity by yourself can give you time to think. We often get so busy these days that we have very little time to think and process what happens in our days. Either way, 20 to 30 minutes of strenuous exercise each day will sharpen your mind and help you think more clearly & stay focused in your studies. I highly recommend scheduling a little time to work out each day. I’ve found that breaking my online class schedule up with a workout in the middle is most beneficial. Doing so can refresh me for the second half of the day.

Learning can be truly exciting. As new concepts and ideas flow into your mind and you consider them it’s very common to feel elation that’s not felt in very many other places in life. However one thing that studies can lead to getting trapped inside your own head. Therefore, I would suggest some social time in between your studies. That social time can come in the form of dating, service, or just giving someone a call to see how they’re doing. There’s something important about our interaction we have with other people that sustains and lifts us in small but essential ways. A research study was done with people who spent long periods of time in isolation. Those people found it very difficult to maintain regular sanity. But when we have the opportunity to share our ideas with others, encourage them, listen to them or just be in their presence, we find something magical occurs. We should take those chances to replenish ourselves so our studies can be more effective.

If you look at all the suggestions I’ve mentioned so far in this series you’ll note that many don’t directly relate to studying or reading better, they are all things we can do to maintain a proper balance while we are taking online college courses. It would be unfair of me to teach about balance and fail to mention another vital component of balance and that is spirituality. Because we all come from different backgrounds and the word spirituality can mean different things to each of us I’d like to explain what I mean by it.

To some, spirituality is some mystical mumbo-jumbo about the universe, to others it’s a punishment and guilt for moral shortfalls. Honestly, whatever your background and whatever your current disposition is toward spirituality let me take you on a little though journey. Think back to a time when you felt at peace completely; at peace and at one with all those around. You may have been with friends. You may have been working out or you may have just been reading a good book. I propose that these are little insights into what spirituality is. Taking time for spiritual things is slowing down to notice the very real connection with all that surrounds us. When we feel this connection with others and when our mind is at rest we find that our ability to focus is a stronger, our minds are clear and free to consider our studies much easier. This mental state is invaluable for anyone pursuing an online education. Education is meant to be exciting and when we feel harmony and balance that excitement is compound.

These are only some thoughts about how to prepare for taking online classes. The important thing to remember is that we each have our own insights and our own things that we learn about life. We need to learn to pay attention & trust those things. When we do, we will find the things that we need individually in order to succeed at any given task in life. By keeping your life in balance you are well on your way to setting the stage for a positive and successful learning experience in your online college education.

Go the Beginning of this Series: How to Combat Distractions While Taking Online College Classes – Part I

How to Combat Distractions While Taking Online College Classes – Part II

Continued From: How to Combat Distractions While Taking Online College Classes – Part I

Another distraction that’s common online is the habit of consistently checking your e-mail. While it’s important to respond timely to some e-mails, it’s not important to respond quickly to most e-mails. I heard a while ago a great idea to keep email (or Facebook for that matter) from interrupting lives in counterproductive ways. The idea was simple, yet powerful. It was to set a specific time to check e-mails each day. Giving yourself permission to do so takes some of the urgency to check it every 5 minutes & when you get the temptation to check your e-mail you know that there will be a time designated later for you to do so and you can return to work without worry.

The other thing that’s important is to give yourself limits, like amount of time or a certain number of e-mails limits. My advice would be to use a combination of the two. For example you might say “I’m going to only spend 10 minutes at four o’clock each day checking my e-mail. If there’s nothing important to respond to, I’ll close it immediately. I’ll use that time working on responding to a max of 3 emails. If I get done before my time is up, I will make a note to return tomorrow at four to complete my replies. If it is something urgent that will exceed your time to respond to via email, consider picking up the phone and calling the individual.

Another way to limit distractions while attending an online school is to install an Internet filter. Filters aren’t just to keep scummy sites from popping up, many filters can also block common time wasters like game sites are social networking sites. You may also find some specifics in the filter settings that are needed for you in particular. For example you might love to browse online book stores or shopping websites. Many filters have settings specific enough to block these types of sites. You may also consider blocking them for just a certain time during the day.

One thing that I find that leads to most of my distractions is just the physical act of sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time. If you plan on spending a good amount of time in front of the computer make sure to schedule regular breaks. You can set an egg timer or find a downloadable computer timer like Xnote to help you take note of when you’d like to pause. There is something about staring at a computer screen is almost mesmerizing. People have been known to sit at the computer for days on end, passing up bathroom breaks & food.

While you may not be like this, you may definitely benefit from external ways to notify yourself how long you’ve been online. With your online classes you may note the time of video decide to get up for a little walk after a certain 45 minute segment. You might also turn on some classical music with the runtime around an hour. When music gets over you can take a break. If at home, you may put your laundry in the dryer for 45 minutes. If your dryer has an alarm might you can stay close by hand come out of your studies for a bit when you hear the buzzer.

The purpose in taking a break often while studying on the computer is so that your body doesn’t get tense. When the body tenses up many people notice stressful feelings but don’t necessarily connect it to the tightness in their bodies. If you can limit this tenseness that can build up from sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time, you’ll be well on your way to getting the most out of your online studies.

Read More: How to Combat Distractions While Taking Online College Classes – Part III

How to Combat Distractions While Taking Online College Classes – Part I

Because we live in the age of super fast technology, we often have very little time to think about how we’re incorporating it into our lives. Because of this, it can find its way into our worlds in counterproductive and unusual ways. Think about the following things before you start your online education & I’m sure it will greatly increase your ability to succeed at whatever online degree you choose.

Studies have shown that even small interruptions in our focus can lead to large amounts of time wasted. For example, I used to work while logged into my instant messenger, gmail and Facebook accounts. Each of those three programs is an amazing piece of technology that allows me to communicate instantly with friends the world over. However, when logged in, each also gives anyone I’m connected to access to interrupt me any time they wish.

Stopping to take 20 seconds out of my day to say hi to a friend doesn’t seem like a big deal. Each 20 sec stop not only adds up, but some researchers have found that it can take up to 10 minutes or more to return to a focused state in which you were previously engaged. The first lesson that you’ve got to learn to be successful in your online educational pursuits is to minimize distractions. Here are some ways I suggest you do that.

Have you ever found yourself studying online and so eager to learn that you click on a link that takes you to another page to learn more about the given subject? I have. It’s not out of the ordinary for me to “come back down to earth” and have 30 different tabs opened at once. I’ve spent all day before just getting from that new window what I felt I wanted before closing it, only to arrive at my point of departure and realizing that I have no more time to finish what I started. It’s usually a brilliant journey, but the point remains that I failed to get done what I set out to accomplish.

If we don’t manage those distractions and keep firm on our main focus , we’ll all to easily get lost in a sea of information, finding our way back to the topic at hand two hours later and out of time. My suggestion is to keep only one tab open had time he if you have to go to another page for further information and make note of it and return later or give yourself a one minute time limit, when that one minute is up, close the window and return to the page of focus. If you give yourself boundaries and limits you learn to manage your time well online.

Read More: How to Combat Distractions While Taking Online College Classes – Part II

How to Best Manage Online College Study

Making the choice to do online college study can be quite liberating. You can see that you are working towards the goal of achieving your degree, but you are not having to disrupt your daily life and lifestyle too much in order to achieve that. Gone are the days when we had to move state or city and leave family, friends and jobs behind in pursuit of the degree from college. Thankfully, the internet has made distance learning an option for everyone.

Online college study is a popular concept because it works so well for so many people. If you left high school and always meant to get back and do that degree, now you are able to finally make that a reality. You can work on your assignments and units in the comfort of your own home, or even on vacation if you want.

There is a great deal of motivation and discipline that is required, however, to do well at online college study. Of course you are free to continue your daily life as before but now you will need to slot study time in around your everyday happenings. Many students that are just beginning with online college study can find themselves quite overwhelmed in the beginning as they aren’t able to manage their time effectively.

There are many college time management tools that colleges offer now and see that discipline and motivation are two very important factors in completing a degree. If you can find a college that offers mentoring or student support with regards to time management, scheduling study and also basic good advice and tips on how previous student shave managed then you should utilize them as soon as possible. Getting into good habits with regards to study can see you through your degree without the drop in enthusiasm and motivation that many students suffer when they aren’t coping with time management.

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How to Take Your Online Classes for College

You may find it odd that you can obtain the same degree that everyone used to only be able to obtain by going to college for a number of years in the comfort of your own home. In fact, you can even get it without ever stepping foot outside of your home if you really wanted to take it to the extreme! Online classes for college is a hugely popular way to study and achieve a degree in almost any field offered.
Read more…

Online College Class

Have you been thinking about going back to college or beginning to earn a degree, but are not sure if you really want to, or if you can do this? Is one of the reasons why you can’t go back to school related to income or expenses, or maybe because you do not have enough or any quiet time? There are some great opportunities available now for those who have limited income or do not have a vehicle. An online college class is a wonderful option.

Thousands of people are attending college online now, people from all over the world. There are still people attending regular colleges, but not as many, and the online option allows so much flexibility to people that it is becoming very popular. A person can even acquire financial aid, grants, and student loans to go to school on the Internet. Some of the textbooks are digital books, so a person will not need to travel to a local college to get books. Also, with an online college class, a person can have the option of having textbooks delivered by mail.

Is one of the reasons why you cannot go to school because you are too busy and your schedule does not leave you much time for regular classes? The great thing about an online college class is that there are several times when a person can attend class, even on the weekends. Classes can be scheduled in the evening on any day of the week. Professors work on those days or nights, as well. When people go to a local college, they are usually attending class twice a week, for each subject. When assignments are handed out, they are generally due in a couple of days and then on the following Monday, for example. An online setting is usually set up so that assignments are due in one week from the first day of class. A discussion thread’s first response might be due by Friday evening, but the rest of the assignments are not due till the following week. Some students work on assignments each day, a little at a time, and some students do all their homework on the day that it is due, which is more stressful, but some people only have one day each week that is available.

Taking an online college class offers so much flexibility and a person can take a class from a state that is far away from him or her, too, if they want to. The options are unlimited when it comes to going to school on the Internet. The only items that are needed to attend class this way is basic computer knowledge, a computer that has at least 1 GB of RAM and 1 GHz of CPU, and a high speed, cable, or DSL Internet connection. Most classes will require a computer to have the latest Java and Adobe on it, so that seminars can be viewed with better quality. It is that simple. People can even fill out financial aid forms online, too, now.