Veterans: Finding Success in the Online Classroom

military online learning

As a veteran, you are no stranger to challenges. You’ve served your country and protected others despite the circumstances. You should be commended for your willingness to serve and to pursue your education.

You may find that adjusting to the online classroom comes with its own set of hurdles to overcome. Here are some ways to adjust to online learning as seamlessly as possible.

Communicate Directly With Your Professors: Schedule a one-on-one phone conversation with your professor at the start of the course. If you have specific concerns like being stationed abroad or issues with your schedule, discuss them with your instructor. Having an open dialogue establishes a working relationship between you and the instructor and helps them identify your particular needs. You will find that faculty members appreciate your service and are willing to make reasonable accommodations to assist you. For example, you may be able to work ahead or get an extension when needed.

Set Realistic Goals: The online classroom requires that your communications appear in written format. This requirement is different from traditional classes where you speak out loud. Initially, the responsibility for writing so much may feel overwhelming. But it’s more than manageable if you assess your abilities and set goals that you can reasonably accomplish in the given time frame. It is unrealistic to complete all of your weekly assignments in one day.

Establish a Schedule: In conjunction with setting goals, it’s important to plan to succeed. Establishing a clear plan for accomplishing your goals is just as important as setting the goals themselves. Your schedule needs to take into consideration your family life, job duties, weekly assignments, and study time. Try to plot your schedule at least one week in advance. Give yourself ample time to review the course requirements and create a strategy for getting the job done.

Share Your Experience: Talking about your life is a great way to connect with others in an online course. Remember that you are not alone. The online classroom is a collaborative environment, and discussion forums are a perfect platform for you to share your unique point of view and build collegial relationships with others. As a member of the military community, you bring a wealth of knowledge and experience into every course. Do your best to illustrate ways in which your military expertise relates to the course content. You will discover that your professors and fellow students appreciate the value that you add to the learning community. In turn, you will feel more allied to others as well.

Tap into Your Resources: There is a wide range of resources that will assist you in navigating the online classroom. You may access Military OneSource or the GI Bill Website. For a more complete list of resources, please visit Ashford University's military resources page.

If you feel any trepidation about using the online learning platform or other technology, the University offers tutorials to assist you. Technical support specialists are also more than willing to help you as well.

Adjusting to an online learning environment can be a challenge, but you are equipped to handle the transition. As a veteran you have learned to manage adversity and exceed expectations. These same attributes will enable you to be successful in the online classroom. Never forget that you have an entire community to support you in reaching your academic goals.

Written by Shavonnie R. Carthens, JD

Dr. Carthens is an Assistant Professor with the Forbestm School of Business at Ashford University.

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