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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.

Behaviors for effective reading

Read everything!

Most of the information in an online course is presented in writing, including instructions for assignments.

If you simply skim content and instructions, you may miss important information, which will result in poor performance.

If needed, reread information. Rereading is part of reading whether it is content or instructions.

Read instructions for assignments early, annotate, and take notes.

Read instructions early. 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.

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 (how does it differ from…), which you should probably explain and illustrate.

In sum, read content (i.e., your lessons) carefully; reread important information so you understand everything deeply; and read instructions carefully and thoroughly.

Improve Your Writing Skills

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

Behaviors for effective writing

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.

Related Materials

The livestream event about this course has more information about question stems and combining simple sentences into complex ones.

Writing well built sentences presents techniques to combine short sentences into more complex, well built sentences.

(Note. The above links open in new tabs.)

Moving toward Your Goals

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