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Studying at a distance can be challenging, however, with a positive attitude and dedication to your studies, you can achieve your educational goals. The tips below will help you get started.
- Internet searching skills are essential.
Having the ability to search quickly and effectively on the Internet is essential. To learn effective research methods, see Online Research under Learner Resources at the left. If you need assistance citing online references, see Writing/Communication Skills under Learner Resources.
- Be comfortable with written communication.
Because nearly all communication is written in the virtual classroom, you will be writing quickly and often. If you have limited writing abilities or are uncomfortable expressing yourself in writing, work on improving these skills before or as part of your online experience. Purdue University
has an Online Writing Lab (OWL) that offers tutorials, workshops, study materials, conversations groups, a grammar hotline, and more.
- Be self-motivated.
Because there is freedom and flexibility in the distance education environment, you need to be responsible and self-disciplined. Distance education requires a commitment. Be prepared to spend as much time per week as the course requires—usually 12 to 15 hours per week per course.
- Take control of your learning experience.
There are many resources available to help you succeed, both on the ICN Web site and at your Home Institution. It is up to you to take ownership of your learning experience.
- Get your own email address and check your mail frequently.
Email is the most common way to communicate with your instructor(s), your advisor, your ICN campus coordinator, and other students. If you do not currently have your own email account, free accounts may be obtained from www.yahoo.com, www.excite.com, and www.hotmail.com. Most colleges and universities provide their students with a free email address; however, you will still need to obtain a local Internet Service Provider (ISP). If you don't have Internet access at home or at your place of work, you can use the equipment at your local learning center or library.
- Advising is important.
Without an academic advisor to review your plan of study and the courses you have taken so far, you could accidentally register for a course that won't count toward your program. Only your academic advisor can verify which specific courses will meet your degree requirements. If you are in need of an academic advisor, contact the ICN campus coordinator at your Home Institution.
- Registration dates vary.
Registration dates and deadlines for distance education courses do not always coincide with registration dates for on-campus courses. Be sure to check the ICN Registration Time Tables prior to registering each semester.
- The drop/withdrawal policy of your Home Institution always applies.
When taking a course that originates from an ICN institution other than your Home Institution, the drop/add/withdrawal policies of your Home Institution always apply.
- Participation is vital to your success.
Keeping up with your assignments and participating in your courses is vital to your success. Distance education courses have the same requirements as on-campus courses, and attendance may play a role in your final grade.
- Notify your instructor about any problems you encounter.
If you have problems with course content or the technology, notify your instructor so you can get the assistance you need to complete your course. Be sure to fill out the SUBJECT line in your email so your instructor will know the urgency of your communication. Allow a reasonable amount of time for your instructor to respond. And be sure to notify your instructor promptly of changes in your email address and/or telephone number.
- If you need assistance, just ask.
Just as campus-based students have access to support services, as a distant learner, you have a variety of resources, including your instructor, ICN campus coordinator, and ICN staff who can point you to online resources as well as to a local learning center, where you will find coordinators who have experience helping distant learners.