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[Online Learning] How to Help Students Master Time Management in Virtual Courses

[Online Learning] How to Help Students Master Time Management in Virtual Courses

A growing number of students are choosing to complete courses online, supplementing classroom learning with one or two or the taking the entire course load virtually. Whether students choose to enroll in online options to overcome scheduling challenges, make up missed credits, or participate in specialized or advanced courses not otherwise available in their building, one of the keys to success is effective time-management skills. The flexibility that online learning provides is one of its greatest benefits, but it also requires a different level of self-motivation and accountability than traditional classroom learning.

These skill sets are challenging to master; however, they are also incredibly valuable beyond the classroom. So, how can you help students who are studying in an online environment  develop an effective approach to time management? Here are four strategies, with accompanying tips, to present to your learners:

1. Make a schedule

  • Read your syllabus, and set aside time each day to work on your online course(s).
  • Plan to work at least 50 minutes a day, five days a week per enrolled course.
  • Take advantage of one of the many great (and free!) calendar apps available to schedule working time.
  • Take a break every 20 minutes to stay efficient and alert.

2. Check in on a regular basis

  • Work on your online course(s) each and every day to avoid getting behind. Coursework is much more manageable that way.
  • Answer all emails from your instructor, and respond to messages daily.
  • Build a relationship with your instructors! They may be virtual, but they care about you, and they are there to help. Consider setting up a weekly phone call or video chat to make sure that you’re connecting and to address any challenges you are running into.

3. Set specific goals

  • Familiarize yourself with a SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound) goal framework.
  • Take time to seriously consider what you want to get out of each online course you are enrolled in.
  • Reward yourself when you complete an assignment or other course-related goal—this can take the form of a treat, an enjoyable study break, or any other incentive that you find motivating.

4. Manage interruptions and distractions

  • Even though your course is online, study time isn’t time to browse or play on the Internet, so limit your Web surfing to specific research for the course. If you’re really struggling to avoid social media or other sites, try one of these desktop apps for blocking Web site and social media.
  • Find a comfortable and organized space to work in.
  • Stick to your study schedule! Learn to say NO to friends and family when you have work to complete for your online course(s).

Looking for a virtual school partner to help expand your students’ options? EdOptions Academy, Edmentum’s fully accredited virtual school provides comprehensive online courseware aligned to state and national standards, and it is paired with highly qualified and state-certified instructors dedicated to engaging and partnering with students every step of the way during their online learning experience.

Ready to learn more? Find out how Onslow County Schools is using EdOptions Academy to meet the needs of a diverse and mobile student population!'s picture
Vicki Reed is an Instructional Lead for Mathematics with Edmentum's EdOptions Academy, and has been with the company since 2012. Prior to Edmentum, Vicki taught in public schools for over 14 years. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Arizona State University, and her Master of Arts in Education with a focus on Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Phoenix.

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