How to Overcome Obstacles in Online Courses

By Danielle Wirsansky on October 17, 2016

Love them or hate them, there comes a time when most of us have to take an online course.

For some, they are life saving classes that are easy, convenient and time efficient. However for many students, taking online classes is a struggle and presents problems that many are not sure how to deal with.

Read on to learn how to overcome obstacles in your online classes!

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Read the directions.

Sometimes the first obstacle is figuring out what you need to do. You can get bogged down by the online platform you have to use in order to navigate your online class. There are lots of tabs and sub sections and it can get confusing to even find your assignments. Once you are there, it can be hard to figure out what you actually need to do in order to complete those assignments. It can be easy to get stressed out and to feel overwhelmed by it all. But take a step back and a deep breath and remember that you can get through it.

Find your directions and read them. This may seem overly simple, but sometimes reading directions can get them all jumbled up in your head. Do what you have to do to make the direction intelligible. Break them down into clear steps so that you only have to focus on one action at a time. You could even break it down sentence by sentence. Do not let yourself feel overwhelmed by reading all the steps to your directions at once.

Reading the directions might even be the problem itself: we are not all visual learners. Sometimes we need to hear the words read out loud in order to process it. So if you need to, do it. Read your directions out loud because that simple act might be all you need to clarify a particularly tricky set of directions.

Find a helpful online resource.

It might seem counterproductive to find another online resource when you are already having trouble with your online class. But not all online education platforms are made equally. Your professor might not be as technologically savvy as you would like or perhaps it’s a new online class that has been newly developed and is still a little rough around the edges. You just might be particularly inarticulate on the subject that your online class is on.

Regardless, finding another online resource to help you out when you really need help, any time you need help, is a great bulwark to have. Sometimes you have a late, last minute question you need help with or you are just not getting a specific concept. There are great online resources you can access whenever you need them, from YouTube videos to databases with online lessons, to help you go that extra mile to really understand your coursework.

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Contact your professor/TA.

Many people never think of this option but you should definitely tap into this resource: your teachers! Most online classes are large and so you will probably have a TA or two in addition to your professor to contact when you are really stuck in your online course.

If you do not understand the directions, do not just try and muddle through or you might end up wasting a lot of time doing your assignment incorrectly. Do not be afraid to ask for clarification! If you are really struggling to understand a concept, make an appointment to go in and meet with your professor, your TA, or both. It might just provide the in-person instruction you need to get kick started so that you can get your work done.

It is their job to help you learn the material, so if you are not, they need to know. Otherwise, how else will they be able to help you or correct the course so that you do not continue to struggle and so that future students do not also struggle with the same issues?

You should not contact them for every little question that you have. An annoyed and overwhelmed educator will not be as conducive to your learning. Either compile an entire list to address at once or simply make an appointment to meet with them and knock all your questions out at once.

Find a tutor.

When all else fails, it is time to find a tutor. Sometimes you just need a real, living, breathing human in front of you to explain the concepts to you in a personalized and specific way that an online course never could.

Most college campuses offer free tutoring services and every college town has tutoring centers with tutors that have taken their specific courses. There are even online tutoring centers that will pair you with a real-time virtual tutor who can precisely fit your needs from wherever they live in the world.

There are many ways to overcome the obstacles presented to you by your online courses so make sure you do not let them get you down!

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