Entering an online classroom requires you to make some adjustments. Here are some tips on how to become a successful online student:

  • Acknowledge the differences between distance learning and "traditional" learning.
  • List the advantages of being an online student
  • Upgrade your computer skills
  • Log-in regularly and participate
  • Work hard!
  • Ask for support when you need it

Activity: Learn about an alumnus' experience with studying of UPOU

Allot 1 hour

Watch the recording of a talk by UPOU alumna Cecilia Panadero on the value of distance education to a professional career. The body of the talk starts at 16:30. 

Acknowledge the differences between distance learning and traditional learning

Distance education allows you to gain control of your learning. That means greater flexibility, but also greater responsibility.

Distance learning is individualized and learner-centered. This means that how much you learn depends on how much effort you exert. You will not always have a tutor who will "force" you to study along very specific timetables. You will therefore have to be more organized and disciplined than you might need to be in a traditional learning environment. 

Learning at your own pace has its advantages, however. You are able to spend more time on topics that are difficult, and you can breeze through topics that are more familiar to you. We understand that adult learners are goal-oriented, self-driven, they have different learning styles, motivations and perspectives. 

List the advantages of being an online student

Here are some advantages of being an online student. Which of these apply to you?  

☐  I am able to access discussions anytime.

☐  I can study in the evenings and on weekends.

☐  I can study when the office is not so busy.

☐  I can study when the children are asleep.

☐  I am able to study anywhere.

☐  I can study even when I am traveling on business.

☐  I can study from an Internet cafè.

☐  My boss allows me to use the office Internet facilities.

☐  I don't have to travel to a UPOU learning center.

☐  I don't have to leave my children alone in the house.

☐  I can stay at home and take care of family responsibilities.

☐  I can study at my own pace.

☐  I can submit assignments and receive documents online.

☐  I have access to virtual libraries on the World Wide Web.

☐  I can practice my computer skills.

If many of these advantages for going online apply to you, then chances are that you an online learning environment would be suitable for you.

Upgrade your digital competencies

You will need some computer skills to thrive in the online learning environment. Consider the checklist below:

☐ I am able to use word processing software to write letters and essays.

☐ I have an e-mail address and I am able to send and receive e-mails.

☐ I am able to browse the World Wide Web using a web browser 

☐ I know how to do on my mobile phone many of the activities I would normally do on my laptop or desktop computer

If you checked all four, then you have the requisite computer skills for entering the online classroom. If you have any problems with any of these three skills, then you can do the following:

  • Self-learn - Try out software: word processors, e-mail software,  web browsers, and mobile apps. Don't be afraid to make mistakes because you'll always learn from them. These software have been designed to be user-friendly. They also have "Help" buttons that you can click on when you need guidance.
  • Seek help from friends, family members or colleagues - Ask them to give you some computer tutorials. They might also be willing to sit with you as you go through some of the preliminary activities in your online course.
  • Attend a formal course - Inquire about courses on basic computer skills. You may also want to enroll in courses offered by local computer education centers, colleges and universities.

Log in regularly and participate

Although you can study at your own pace, your course is structured so that you and your classmates can come together and discuss specific topics according to a timetable. Your tutor will also set deadlines for assignments and other requirements.

We understand that students have different learning styles. In a face-to-face classroom, some students speak more than others. It is the same in the online environment. You can actually choose to be silent all throughout (as long as contributions are not graded!). However, we recommend that you participate in discussions because it is a great way to interact with your peers. It might also be the only way for you to ask for feedback from your tutor. Definitely, some topics in your course material will be very challenging. Online discussions allow you to discuss and clarify matters.

Work hard

The UP Open University is making it possible for you to engage in a more flexible kind of learning so that you can earn your degree despite constraints imposed by work and family responsibilities.  But whether you are learning in a physical classroom or in an online environment, you are expected to live up to UP standards of academic excellence and integrity. Your role is to study hard, participate, interact, complete course requirements, pass the exams, and have fun along the way. That's not too hard if you have the right mixture of discipline, motivation and study skills.

Ask for support when you need it

If you are experiencing any academic difficulties, contact the Faculty-in-Charge (FIC) or your tutor. You can also call the nearest UPOU Learning Center to ask for advice.

If you experiencing technical difficulties (i.e., problems related to your computer, Internet connection, passwords, viruses, online assignment submissions and access to your course site), get in touch with the technical support staff. Technical support staff members do not monitor the contents of the 300-plus discussion boards that are active in a semester, so please do not post your technical questions and suggestions in the course discussion boards. The best way to get a quick response is to contact tech support directly. See also https://upou-bams-test.freshdesk.com/support/solutions/articles/43000503497-where-can-i-get-help-regarding-a-non-program-advising-issue-

Activity: Learn more about study skills

Allot 35 minutes 

Watch this very useful talk by Roja Rivera on study skills you can develop for online learning, recorded during the 2018 UPOU Student Orientation. 

What can you do when you're having a hard time concentrating on the course material?

  • Start reading on time and take frequent breaks. Sometimes, there is no getting around reading long texts, and cramming will just not help. Start your reading assignments on time (or ahead of time), and take a break whenever you are no longer capable of concentrating.  
  • You might make need to make sure that your body and mind are in a receptive state. Do you know what it takes for you to be able to concentrate? For instance, some people do better if they are eating something crunchy while studying; others don't. Try to be well-rested and in a place that's free from distractions. Some people can concentrate better with absolute silence; other function better if there's some background noise about them... but the background noise might have to be a particular type. See this article and another article for a discussion on studying with noise. 
  • Try these tips on reading boring material. (I came across this after searching for "how to read boring textbooks")  Try taking notes; studies suggest that when you take notes, your ability to retain information is better.
  • Your ability to read technical information is like a muscle: you have to exercise it in order to maintain it. The more you read, the better you become at reading. So apply whatever tips you know work for you and keep applying them and keep reading; eventually you will become a pro at digesting difficult material.