Share your tips for successfully taking an online course!

I’m taking an online course from coursera and I’d like to successfully finish the class as well as learn the material.

I’m thinking I need to designate a specific time to attend the online lectures and eliminate all other distractions during that time. I should also participate in the online forums related to the class. I’ll buy the 4 textbooks for the class, so I’ll have a financial stake in the class even though coursera’s classes are free.

Any other ideas?

What class are you taking? I have taken a few Coursera classes right from the inaugural Machine Learning class.

I would hold off purchasing expensive text books as generally the course should be self contained. If the class is worth doing then the enjoyment of learning new stuff should be all you need for motivation. Doing extra reading is something you can do for further study after the class has ended. Other students will inevitably comment on how much help the text books are on the forum.

My main tip is to plan to watch the videos and do any assignments as early as possible. This builds in a bit of slack should real life intervene. If you are constantly close to the deadlines you will inevitably find yourself compromising your score as you rush to complete it on time. I found it best to watch the classes in two or more sessions to avoid fatigue.

Sometimes the professors underestimate the amount of work it takes to run a class, so be patient if it is not so smooth at the beginning. It gets tiresome to see the rants on the forums and it must irk the course staff when the are doing their best to give you a FREE education. Equally irksome are the rants from those who want a different class to the one being offered. Chill out and if the class does not meet your needs, do a different one.

Have fun.

I’ve taken a few online courses in my time…okay, I’ve taken a ton.

The biggest thing is just to stay on top of your work, even if it means burning the midnight oil. I’ve had problems not doing readings and stuff because its online and I end up not actually learning anything. Make sure that you don’t cheat and use google during the tests and actually force yourself to learn the material like a regular class.

Good luck!

When I went back to school I took almost all of my classes online.
I think the biggest thing is discipline. Nobody is telling you to be at a certain place and a certain time, you have to motivated yourself.
I didn’t have any online lectures to attend, but participation in chat rooms was required as was posting in the forums.
Get as far ahead in the class as you can.
A lot of what you learn is going to be from doing your own research. You’re not in a classroom learning from a professor, so in some ways it’s more work.
Our mid-terms and finals were at the college testing center, so we couldn’t cheat.

I loved the online classes, I’d sign on whenever I wanted, if I couldn’t sleep I’d go to school, in my underwear. I didn’t have to drive to the college, find a place to park, go out in the snow.

I subscribed to Questia, it’s an online library for research.

I’m taking Computational Finance and Financial Econometrics. I don’t mind buying books for this class, they’re not that expensive. I work in the finance industry, so I’m using this class to get exposure to another part of the industry. I don’t want to spend my entire life working on a trade desk.