This next section of the Georgia Virtual Learning program is Create, and it focuses the process and tools of creating content for an online class. Creating a course is a comprehensive task that can overwhelm anyone who spends a day worrying about all of the material to gather, assignments to write, and lessons to plan. The course could also be overwhelming for students who spend their first day enrolled clicking through all of the lessons and assignments.
Perhaps one should feel a little-overwhelmed since any course should have much to offer its students, and students should realize that the course will not be completed within a day, week, or month. Learning takes time, and the best learning will extend beyond the scope of the course. In this way, time is on both the teacher’s and student’s side. To keep time on your side, I offer five time management tips that work best for online study. I encourage you to share these with your students.
- Plan, organize, and schedule your priorities.
After students enroll in the course, scan the course’s page and the syllabus, and potentially have a minor heart-attack, they should sit down with their syllabus and planner and mark due dates, tests, and synchronous events. If they have extracurricular activities, like sports or concerts, they should mark these too and check for any conflicts. Then weekly, they should pick a day to plan which lessons and assignments to complete for the week. After this, they should go back and set priorities based on due dates and outside factors. For example, if a student is working as part of a group on a project, he/she should work first on that so as not to inconvenience his/her group members.
- “Less volume, more time”
Both students and teachers should aim to complete only a few tasks each day and do them well. Some may be tempted to pick one day a week and plan to complete all of the tasks at once, but this will create fatigue, and the quality of the assignments will suffer. Neither students or teachers should be overly ambitious when planning how much to do in a day. Aim to complete one to three tasks, and plan to do quality work. Then, add one as a bonus as if to say, “If I get this much done, I’m awesome.” Over-achievers will appreciate the extra challenge they set for themselves without risking the disappointment if they don’t get that far.
- Set goals
Setting goals follows closely on the heels of the previous two tips. Students should set goals related to their assignments, but also they should set goals that relate to the whole course and the course objectives. They could set goals based on how many new words they’ve learned through the course, how high they want their grade to be, or how many new friends they’ll make in the course. Students should also remember qualities of good digital citizenship and set goals that improve their behavior online and offline. Online teachers may offer resources at the beginning of the course to help students create SMART goals to help them.
- When it’s time to work, turn everything off.
This may be one of the biggest challenges of online learning and the hardest time management skill tip to master. Students should always work in a place free from distractions, and they may need to disable notifications on their devices to help them. As I write this, my phone is blinking at me, letting me know I have a message. Before sitting down to write this, I probably should have flipped the phone over to prevent me from seeing the blinking. I am also writing this in front of the TV, but it is off, and I’m not sure where the remote is. I recommend the same for students.
- Reward yourself
Rewards are probably the most important part of time management. They should both be large and small in size, but small rewards often work best. Try to think of rewards that don’t require money or going somewhere special. For example, they can be thirty minutes of free time during a work session or watching a double-feature after a lengthy paper is finished. Rewards are also the perfect way to indulge all of those impulses that pop-up while working. For example, now that I’ve reached my last time management tip, I’ll go check my messages.