Studying online: a long-distance race


Online education from home sounds great: in our pajamas, no traffic jams, no queues, no wasting time running from one place to another, just sitting at our desk, even on the sofa or in bed, and voila! With much more free time for other tasks, and in less time than in a face-to-face course, we will have our diploma, master’s degree or degree.

In Spain there are six non-face-to-face universities , although many others are increasingly incorporating an online training offer , adapting to the needs of the students.

Distractors and motivation

But although studying online has many advantages (fundamentally economic and saving time and transportation), it also has its difficulties. The main ones have to do with achieving a quiet place at home, suitable for studying and concentrating, and knowing how to self- discipline .

At home we do not have external distractors, but we do have internal ones, from television to DIY, going through an unexpected but necessary and priority cleaning of the bathroom: any proposal works for us when it comes to procrastinating, although this is not exclusive to online teaching.

If we add to this that the student who decides to enroll in a career or course online does so because he has other obligations in his life, the challenge of reaching everything, and maintaining motivation and work discipline, is even greater.

Five key points of online education

The experience of studying online can represent a challenge in terms of living it alone, without references or peers, especially considering that the most common experiences during childhood and adolescence are usually in groups and with more direct supervision. of the teaching staff

Therefore, even if we are very clear about our motivation and objectives, it is very necessary to take into account the following recommendations:

  1. Browse the platform. We must dedicate some time to explore the platform through which we are going to move throughout the year. Exploring the possibilities and resources within our reach will be very useful.
  2. Set us a schedule. Whenever possible, a schedule should be established ; it may not be the same every day, but even on days when we are so busy that we cannot study, it is advisable to set aside a minimum of half an hour for study or review so as not to miss a beat.
  3. Plan the study. Not only temporally, but also content. One of the advantages and the biggest drawbacks of distance education is that you usually have all the course material available from the beginning, precisely because you understand that many different profiles coexist and that each student has their own times, depending on many factors. . The disadvantage is that if we are not able to self-regulate and work autonomously, we can become overwhelmed considerably or simply not get to everything.
  4. Get to know our colleagues. Although there are people used to working alone, it can be very positive to contact and maintain contact with the rest of the students. Not only in case we can’t attend class, or if we don’t have time to read the forums; also as an incentive for the work routine and to avoid demotivation. Contacting other people who are in the same situation as us is going to be a window to let off steam, to feel that we are not alone. Being part of a community , of a group of equals that you can turn to if you need it, can be an important support.
  5. Interact with teachers. Perhaps the fact of working online makes us less active. However, we have to take advantage of all the means of communication that are within our reach, either in synchronous mode, in live classes, or in asynchronous format, for example through forums . We must never be left in doubt.

Avoid comparisons

It must be remembered that our circumstances are not the same as those of face-to-face university students and, probably, they are also very different from those we experienced during previous educational experiences. Therefore, the degree of demand must vary when we are trained online: we cannot expect to keep up with the same pace as when our only concern or occupation was studies. Let’s be aware and don’t whip ourselves . Our priorities have changed, it’s life.

Likewise, it is essential to avoid comparisons with other colleagues. As just commented, each context is different and can be very different from each other. We cannot claim to have the same level of dedication or dedication as other people whose particular circumstances we are totally unaware of.

In this sense, patience and perseverance will give us the necessary support: it may not all work out the first time, in fact it will be the most normal thing, that is why we must be constant and not lose sight of why we decided to start studying. Keeping that objective always present can help us in the low moments, which will come.

But eventually the effort will pay off. We must not forget the great merit of what we are doing. As I always tell my students: you must be very proud of yourselves. Forward!

Author Bio: Ingrid Mosquera Gendeis a Hired professor doctor. Informal learning, educational technology and online education at UNIR – International University of La Rioja