Taking online classes? WATCH THIS! I spent a year taking classes myself and researching online ed from the student perspective – this video summarizes my findings. This video is about how to determine if online ed is right for you, what factors pose the biggest threat to your success AND how to manage them. It’s all about dopamine in the end. Isn’t it always?

How to Manage Time, Reduce Stress and Increase Happiness: http://youtu.be/N4YVLkuRBe8

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Video Details:

The Penguin Prof’s College Success Series
Challenges and Strategies for Success in Online Ed

One Year Online
Read everything I could about online ed
Took courses in online education and digital cultures
Took courses in other disciplines
some were free, some quite expensive
some from individual institutions, some MOOCs

Most importantly, I ASKED QUESTIONS of the students sharing my online classes
Why did you choose this course online? What else have you taken and where?
How happy are you with online classes in general? Are you successful in online coursework?
What works for you and what doesn’t?

What Did NOT Predict Course Quality
Cost did not predict course quality
Institutional prestige did not predict course quality

What Did Affect Course Quality
The instructor
The input by other students
Student’s interest and motivation in the subject
Web site ease of use, mobile access and information quality

Why Students LOVE Online Ed
#1 Control over their schedule
#2: They like “going to class” from bed, in pajamas
#3: Caregivers can stay at home AND take classes
#4: Save money (gas, parking permits, eating on campus)
#5: Save time (travel time, parking spot hunting, waiting for class to begin)
#6: You can still attend class even if you have to travel during the semester

Other Reasons Why Students LOVE Online Ed
Some students said they are easily distracted by other students in a traditional classroom
They feel more “one-on-one” with the professor
They can progress at their own pace through the material


Distractions at Home are ENDLESS
Student is easily distracted while working on online classwork

Don’t Feel Bad… It’s Biological
Immediate rewards are FAR more desirable to our brain than distant rewards
This is called temporal discounting

Dopamine is to blame!
Functions in the brain:
Reward and motivation
Pleasure, euphoria
Fine motor function

Distractions like social media, movies, music etc. give us a jolt of dopamine and that feels GOOD! Distant rewards (final exam scores, degrees, etc.)… not so much

Online Success is Highest When:
Student is HIGHLY self-motivated
Student is already interested in the subject
Student likes technology (and has more than one device to access content)
Student is organized (time, materials)
Student uses a self-imposed regular schedule for the online class
Student participates in discussion boards / blogs / virtual office hours

Online Success is Lowest When:
Student is not interested in the subject
Student is not comfortable with technology
Student has erratic schedule and cannot make time for class work
Student does not participate with others in the class
Student procrastinates and misses deadlines
Students who do not read well (or do not enjoy reading)

Tips and Tricks
Watch “Time Management” video
Schedule class time AND study time (not the same thing!)
Study only during your Prime Productivity Time
Anticipate, minimize and deal with distractions

The Pomodoro Technique
Set a timer for 25 minutes
WORK for 25 minutes without interruptions
When the timer goes off, give yourself a small reward and a 5 minute break
Over time, increase the working period

Get Things Done (GTD) Apps
Remember the Milk

Priority Matrix
Covey’s Time Management Matrix

Some motivational items and penguins… of course!