Snap Language

Getting Smarter through Language

How to Become a More Effective Online Learner | Page 6

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Improve Your Reading Skills

You cannot improve your reading overnight; however, there are a few things you can do that will help you right away:

  • Read everything! Most of the information in an online course is presented in writing. Instructors make sure that they provide all the information students need to, for example, complete an assignment. If you simply skim the instructions, you may miss important information, which will result in poor work.
  • If needed, re-read information.
  • Read instructions for assignments early, annotate, and take notes. If you wait until just before an assignment is due, you may feel tempted to skim over important information; in addition, you may realize you needed more time to complete it than you anticipated. Read instructions early. Annotate the important information. Take notes so you have a clear picture, in your own words, what the assignment is about.
  • Notice keywords. For example, words such as “may,” “should,” and “must” tell suggestions, recommendations, and requirements apart. Also pay attention to and read anything labeled “Attention” or “Important.”
  • When reading test or exam questions, pay attention to the question stems. For example, a question such as “What is online learning and how does it differ from classroom-based learning?” is asking for a definition (What is...) and for a list of differences, which you should probably explain and illustrate.

Improve Your Writing Skills

Like reading, writing is something you learn over time. Here are some suggestions that can help you improve some aspects of your writing right away:

  • Always organize your ideas before you start writing anything. For example, once you identify the keywords in your assignments, organize your writing around them. This way you will be sure to address them in your writing. This works for anything you write: short emails, short answers, longer paragraphs, essays, and so on.
  • Work from simple to complex sentences. When you start by writing very complex, convoluted sentences, sometimes you end up with difficult-to-read, unclear sentences. Fixing them at that point can be difficult. To make it easier for you and to write better sentences, start out by writing simple sentences, focusing on the ideas. You can then combine into more complex sentences.

Note

Watch the live stream event about the topic of this course for more information about question stems and combining simple sentences into complex ones.)