Guest post*: Study tools to make the most of distance learning courses

If you’re working towards an online degree or taking some other kind of distance learning course, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to put in the same kind of work and studying that you would for a regular class if you hope to do as well.

Unfortunately, there are some things that learning over a great distance necessarily causes you to lose, such as human interaction. But what technology taketh, technology also finds ways to give back, and there are a number of study tools out there that can help you make the most of your distance learning classes by becoming as connected as possible.

Skype Yes, that’s right, Skype and other video chat programs can actually be great study tools as they allow you to ‘meet’ with your classmates one-on-one or in groups so that you can have discussions, work on class projects, and address any questions you had from the lesson about things that didn’t make sense.

Google Drive Why Google Drive? Because it lets you keep all of your classwork and notes in one place, as well as any information provided by the instructor, so that it’s always easily accessible. Moreover, you can share documents with other students and even collaborate on specific pieces of work (again, like group projects) by setting up the ability for multiple people to read and edit. And, of course, there’s just a lot of versatility built in to Google Docs because it essentially incorporates the equivalent of Microsoft Office and then some, allowing you to do lots of different things.

eBooks If you have to purchase textbooks for your online courses, eBooks are great for a number of reasons. First, there’s the obvious benefit of not having to lug around books or take up extra space that you may not have. Then there’s the fact that many electronic versions of textbooks and novels are cheaper than their physical alternatives. But there’s an even bigger and better reason – you can use the functionality present in many eBooks to highlight passages, take notes, mark places for easy shortcuts – and share all of this information with other people in the class so that it makes studying together easier and more productive for everyone.

… or should that be ‘Study Richly’?

Tablets and smartphones One of the most helpful things to happen to education in general over the last several years is the fact that we’ve been able to pack more and more computing power into smaller and smaller devices – as well as slightly larger devices that are easier to use because of their larger screens. The emergence of tablets and smartphones has meant that we can take our studies with us on the go and still get a whole lot of work done that just wouldn’t have been possible even five years ago. Obviously, tablets are especially useful, but with apps for just about everything, smartphones today have tons of functionality as well. And even the most basic of them make it possible to surf the web and watch videos, which brings us to…

YouTube Yes, it can be a repository of recorded jackassery and random silliness, but there’s a reason that YouTube has become the world’s second-largest search engine. Chances are good that if you want to learn more about a particular subject, you can type it in to their search function and find videos to watch that will provide you with the information you need. Many schools and classes even post videos online from their lectures, so you may discover that you can study up quite a bit just by queuing up a few quick videos.

*About our guest: As a former educator, Samuel Clemens has been writing about education solutions and technology for several years. Click here to see the literature study guides he recommends.

photo credit: niallkennedy via photopin cc
photo credit: Michigan Municipal League (MML) via photopin cc

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