Barriers to online learning (and how to overcome them!)
Finding success in online learning doesn’t happen overnight. Overcoming barriers to online learning such as poor time management or lack of familiarity with technology can be the secret to success.
Athabasca University wants students to succeed, which is why we’ve created a list of common barriers to online learning—along with ways to overcome them.
Barrier 1: Poor time management
While the flexibility of online programs is excellent for those who have a lot on their plate, the absence of a rigid structure can leave some scrambling. Procrastination is a time-management trap that can lead to poor performances, late assignments, or worse.
Instead of putting things off, try building a study/assignment schedule so that you maximize your time and hit your deadlines with ease. You’ll thank yourself later!
Barrier 2: Lack of motivation
Online courses are a lot of work—sometimes more than people realize when they start. When you’re in the middle of a course, it can be hard to know exactly how you’re doing.
Don’t hesitate to ask your professors and tutors about your progress throughout the course. This also helps prevent feelings of isolation and disengagement.
For some, it can be hard to feel motivated when you don’t have face-to-face time with instructors in person. Ask a friend or family member to check in on you and hold you accountable for your work. Breaking down course information into chunks can also help make the work seem less overwhelming and thus keep you motivated to complete it!
Barrier 3: Where do I get help?
Frustration with online learning can build when students don’t know how or when to contact their professors or tutors, or if there’s poor communication about coursework expectations.
If you’re confused about an assignment or test, reach out to your professors or tutors. There are also many other academic resources where you can turn for support.
Even though you’re not in a classroom, it’s OK to turn to your classmates for help! AU students are active on social media threads and chat rooms, including a popular Discord server (run by students for students). You’re sure to find a peer that is going through the same thing and can provide much-needed clarity.
Barrier 4: Technical issues
Although the internet is a wonderful and necessary resource for online learners, it can also cause problems. Without a strong internet connection or high bandwidth, online learning becomes nearly impossible. Keeping up with technical requirements of a course can also be stressful.
The best way to combat this is to prepare in advance. Make sure you have basic computer literacy (including fundamental knowledge of computer hardware), familiarize yourself with the programs you’ll need. You should also know what support to seek when technical issues arise.
Don’t be afraid to seek help from AU’s IT department, as there are many resources available to you should you need to access them.
Barrier 5: Cost
Investing in your education can pay off in many ways, from career growth and success to gaining new knowledge. However, paying for a university course or full program can be a challenge for many students.
Thankfully, many online universities including AU, have pay-as-you-go programs. You pay for each course only when you register for it. Course fees also include all texts, class materials, and access to a tutor and other learning supports.
There’s no formal deadline to complete most AU degrees, diplomas, or certificates. So if time isn’t a concern, you can take classes as you can afford them. However, if you need a faster pace and the resulting heavier financial commitment, financial aid options are available.