With the ever expanding reach of the internet and proliferation of internet devices, online learning has become an increasingly common form of education. How you approach your online learning course will determine your success. When enrolling in a course with RealEstateExpress.com, keep these suggestions in mind.
Don’t Presume Online Equals Easy
While online courses offer many advantages over traditional methods, do not assume the content will be easier or less comprehensive. Oftentimes an online course is more comprehensive due to the additional regulations placed upon online providers to earn accreditation.
Keep a copy of the Course Orientation handy to double check policies and procedures for completing the course, taking exams, and using the different resources available for assistance. Be sure to check out the objectives provided at the beginning of each unit and make sure you can fully explain them before moving onto the next unit.
Be Realistic with your Expectations
With online learning, you are in control of when you ‘attend’ class. There is a reason that most traditional classroom schools do not schedule 8-hour classes –sustaining concentration for that long is nearly impossible for most people. So don’t plan on spending your entire Saturday working in your course. Break your study times into manageable 1 – 2 hour ‘chunks’ throughout the week with a 5 – 10 minute break every hour to step away from the computer. To maximize retention, make sure you are ‘touching’ the course material daily – whether you are delving into new content or just reviewing what has already been covered.
If a course is written to be a 48-hour course, plan 48 hours of study time. Even if you can read the entire course in half that time, your retention will be lower than if you spend the actual time. It is difficult to pass any course – regardless of delivery method – if you only attend half of the time.
Use the pace bar on your student homepage to be accountable to yourself. As with any other long-term goal, if you miss a day or two of scheduled time, do not take it as a failure. Get back on schedule as soon as you can.
Take it Seriously
Just because you can study on-the-go does not always mean you should. External distractions can diminish your ability to retain new or complicated material. Designate a study area so you are mentally prepared to learn each time you go to that area. Use your on-the-go time for reviewing past material. Spotty internet coverage while you are away from your study space? Download your textbook to read during those times or review notes you have taken while reading the course.
Establish a support network before starting your course. Make sure your family and friends are aware you are starting a new challenge and are willing to honor your time commitments and be available assounding boards as you are learning new material. Use the ‘Grant Access to your Manager’ feature to have your future Broker become part of your support network. Brokers can request a free Manager Account by emailing [email protected].
As everyone who has touched a computer or used the internet knows, technology is not infallible. Sometimes computers crash, the internet acts in strange ways, or signals can be lost at inopportune moments. Do not allow a technology issue to sideline your education. Plan to have your course completed well before the expiration date and, when possible, plan to take course final exams during office hours when tech support is easy to reach.
If a technical issue does occur, notify student support right away so they can begin troubleshooting. Anticipate some time for them to look into the issue and respond. If more than a re-boot is needed, time will be needed as well.
When reaching out to your instructor – through email, voicemail or the Ask the Expert Forum – allow time for a thorough response. While your course is available 24/7, your instructor is allowed time to eat and sleep.
Be an Active Participant
The more senses you get involved with your learning, the higher your retention rate. Don’t just read a screen, but take notes on what you read. Writing the information in your own words triggers deeper thought. It also lessens the chance you will skim over important information. Read some of your screens out loud to yourself (or pet or random passersby). This way you are hearing in addition to seeing and writing. Do not allow yourself to believe that reading something once will commit it to memory.
Attach each new concept to ones you already know. When you read something new, ask yourself how it applies to what you have already learned either in terms of the course or in life. Making that attachment will make the new concept easier to remember and deepen your comprehension.
Finally, communicate with your instructor. If you do not understand something, reach out to your instructor before you get to the course final exam. Interact with classmates and the instructor in the Ask the Expert forum (Student Tools dropdown menu). You may find the answer or clarification you need from another student’s post which saves you time.
Following these guidelines will yield not only a completion certificate for your course, but the knowledge you need for the next step in your real estate career.
Want to find out if you have what it takes to be a Real Estate Agent or Broker?
About Geoff Thompson — Geoff Thompson is an Owner and Founding Partner of Express Schools, LLC. which operates online education providers Real Estate Express, Insurance License Express and License Tutor. Follow him on Twitter.