Posted in Being an Online Student

Two Ways to Deepen Your Understanding of Course Material

One of the many fears that online students have is that they won’t learn the material as well as they would have in a face to face environment. Unfortunately, this is a very common misconception. While online students may not physically come to class each day, there are a lot of ways to help the material “stick” better and deepen your understanding of course content. Two of my favorite ways to deepen my understanding of course material is to apply it to my life and to discuss with other students.

The best way that I found to learn the material I was being taught in school was to apply it to my real life. For example, in one of my operations management courses, we were asked to discuss how a company could improve its supply chain operations. While many students chose companies like Southwest Airlines or Coca Cola, I chose to study my own company. The project wasn’t nearly as flashy as the other student’s, but I was able to apply the principles from my class to my job and it helped the material make more sense to me. Every time we learned a new concept that was somewhat difficult for me, I tried to tie it something either at work, at home or something that I knew a lot about. This helped significantly when I was trying to learn course material.

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Another great way to deepen your understanding of course material is to chat with other students about it. Many online classes offer discussion boards where students can discuss course material or share external resources with each other. Unfortunately, many people either forget that this exists, or choose not to utilize it. Using the discussion board to ask questions, share articles about the topic you are studying and to start a discussion with other students can help a lot with learning material. In my classes, if one person took the plunge and started a discussion in the discussion board, other students were pretty responsive. The problem was that no one wanted to initiate the conversation! Other options are to reach out to people via email, set up social media/texting groups or video chat with others. It’s not impossible to have a discussion in an online course- you just have to be willing to try!

Do you have any tips to help yourself learn course material better in your online courses? Please share your favorite tips in the comments!

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