- February 2013
- Posted By lauraopp
- 0 Comments
If you’re taking classes online, it can be challenging to know where to turn if you need help. At a traditional college, there are a myriad of options: You can ask your roommate or the kid down the hall, you can go to office hours and meet with your TA or professor, you can form a study group with other students and at some schools, and you can even meet with a tutor (for free!) at a specific time. When your course is entirely online however, you lose these options. So, what does the motivated online student do? Turn to one of these three online options.
Khan Academy is the invention of Sal Khan, a former hedge-fund manager who was tasked with teaching his niece, Nadia, how to do unit conversions while he was in Boston and she was in New Orleans. He started creating video lessons for her and her siblings, and soon word got out about the quality of Khan’s video lessons. Fast forward six years and Khan Academy is a multi-million-dollar funded non profit with the goal of making education accessible to anyone with an Internet connection and a desire to learn. Khan Academy boasts almost 4,000 videos on topics ranging from intersections lines in a plane to art in the medieval era.
Khan Academy isn’t a great place if you want to teach yourself an entire year of college calculus. The videos aren’t comprehensive; your average college course or textbook will go much more in-depth. Where Khan Academy can be super useful, however, is in helping you brush up on especially tough topics. For example, if you’re in a calculus class and are just starting to start working on differential equations, but you’re finding yourself confused… the Khan Academy video on differential equations may be just what’s needed to get you back on track.
Turn to Study Groups
The offline study group can happen online — thanks to technology. One great option is Piazza. It allows instructors to set up online study groups (or virtual office hours) for students taking their courses. Interestingly enough, Piazza isn’t just for online courses; it’s a great service for offline courses as well. But it’s definitely a great way to allow students to connect with each other after class. And, because students can contribute anonymously, it allows students who might feel shy about asking a question to do so without concern.
If your online course doesn’t have Piazza set up, another good option is to take matters into your own hands and set up a Google Hangout. If your course has an online forum or other method to get in touch with other students, take the initiative to set up a Google Hangout, just for your class. Connecting with other students and talking through tough problems is a great way to identify areas of weakness. Plus, teaching others is one of the most effective ways to learn material yourself.
Work with an Online Tutor
When you get really stuck, you’re going to need outside help. The good news is, just as online courses have made taking college-level classes much more affordable, online tutoring is much more affordable than its traditional counterpart. Most online tutoring companies allow you to work with tutors for as short or as long as you need — which means if you only need a little help, you can work with your tutor for less than what it costs to go out to the movies. An added bonus of online tutoring? You can usually work with your tutor later at night or earlier in the morning than you’d be able to with a traditional private tutor, since no one needs to drive anywhere or leave their house.
Online classes take a lot of hard work and discipline to finish strongly. But if you can commit to doing the work and getting outside of class help when you need it, there’s no reason you can’t get the A.