Continuing your education online is more and more common these days because of the flexibility and numerous options online schools offer people. Learning the course material and scoring well on tests and assignments is only part of the equation to being successful in an online course. You also should have a working knowledge of several computer programs and Internet skills so that your online education goes as seamlessly as possible. That way, you can focus on learning and not on computer frustrations.
It might seem obvious, but understanding how to use Microsoft Office is a key ingredient in a successful online education. Knowing the ins and outs of Word is important because that’s likely how you’ll be writing and formatting most of your papers and assignments. But also learn how to use Excel spreadsheets, because they’re great for organizing data. Learn PowerPoint as well; professors often send slides and lectures via PowerPoint files, and you might be expected to create your own at some point.
Communication for online classes is going to happen via email. But email programs, especially Gmail, have many more essential features than just the ability to send and receive emails. Google Drive is great for saving, storing, and sharing large files. You might need to communicate with a professor or classmate face-to-face, and Google Hangouts allows you to do that within a group.
Universities that offer online programs, like Monash University’s sustainability graduate program, don’t always require you to download special software to take courses. So understanding the basics of good Internet communication is vital to your success as a student.
Multiple blogging platforms are available, and knowing how to use the most popular options is a smart idea. Understand how to set up a WordPress blog, because WordPress is a great starting point for making websites and may help you create a presentable online project. Blogger is great for distributing information and creating a network of followers, and it’s connected to Google. Livejournal focuses on pop culture and a more community-based blogging experience, and Tumblr is great for creating viral content and getting information from multiple people at once, such as sending out a survey.
Knowing how to save data is essential for anyone who uses a computer, but it’s especially important for someone pursuing a high level online education. The last thing you want is to lose a research paper or a large project because you didn’t back it up. Don’t just save it to your hard drive — save it to an off-site location, like the cloud, that you can access from any Internet connection. Or save it to a removable device, like a flash drive, so you can reach it without the Internet but on any computer.
Understanding key Internet features and certain computer programs will make your online higher education journey run far more smoothly. From knowing the special features your email program provides, to having a system in place for backing up all your school work and research, you’ll be ready to tackle any online program.