By: Grant Ryerse
My Twitter profile includes a couple Latin words. You wonder why? I am taking an online Latin class through BYU Independent Study. Online learning provides a highly valuable learning option, which is becoming, and will likely remain, a regular experience for the students of the future. My Latin class has helped me foster many skills needed for online learning success. Latin isn’t offered at my high school, but because I would like to be a doctor when I am older, I knew a background in Latin would help me develop a foundation valuable for learning the maze of complicated medical terms, which are a crucial part of medicine. The study of Latin has also has expanded my English vocabulary which helps me in my other classes. In addition to the online Latin class, I take five classes at a large suburban high school.
Here are ten considerations that I have developed for students to review before taking an online course that will strengthen their engagement and increase their chance of online learning success. These considerations are all connected; being able to adopt all ten as a student will be especially effective. Students already taking an online class would also benefit from reviewing these items and finding some keys for improvement.
- Time Management. Create a personal calendar for the course that consists of a layout of what activities (readings, journals, etc…) need to be accomplished each day.
- Organization. Make sure that you have everything you need to succeed in the class, including materials (note cards or digital flashcards, laptop, passwords, books) and that you create quiet time in your life for class work daily.
- Flexibility. Adapt and go with the flow. Remember that you may need to revise and rethink your calendar plans as you begin the class. Being successful also means taking care of all areas of one’s life. Sometimes during my open period I train for sports, study for another class, or focus on Latin work, depending on how I have planned the needs of any specific day.
- Learning Style. An audio or tactile-based learner might struggle in an online environment. Take the time to develop a metacognitive perspective and consider learning about learning styles through an online quiz to gain insights and strategies to give you success.
- Group. Develop a group of study friends as a support network. I was fortunate enough to have two other friends take the same class. Someone who understands a certain concept particularly well can assist the group, which is especially valuable.
- Extra help. A student needs to be open to looking for extra help, whether that is from a tutor or teacher of a similar class. I was reluctant at first, but I met with a tutor and quickly recognized what I was missing without this valuable asset.
- Use of technology. Use technology to your advantage. This might mean finding an online textbook or a website that helps you with the topic. Get help with any technology bugs or glitches that may set you back.
- Independent work. Most of the time, you won’t have other people to work with, so you need to be able to go through your work on your own.
- Communication. Make yourself comfortable e-mailing or calling the instructor. This is necessary if you have any questions, content-related or other.
- Course reputation. Research the program or course that you are going to be taking. If a particular course has bad reviews, you might want to look into other schools that offer the class.
These ten considerations are something that I wish I had had before I started taking my online Latin class. I would have then been able to construct an outline with a plan laid out for the future and organized everything beforehand. These ten crucial considerations are extremely valuable resources; make sure to use all the resources that are accessible for a successful educational experience.
About the Author: Grant Ryerse is in the Class of 2017 at East Ridge High School in Woodbury, Minnesota. He is currently enrolled in a two-year online Latin course through Brigham Young University’s K12 Independent Study program.