The ABCs of Online Education: 3 Tips toward Independent Learning
by Halton Thomson
A key for creating greater independence as a student, or a worker in general, is developing rewards for yourself. Because you incentivized your progress, this helps you remain motivated even when you may feel sluggish. Also, chances are you are looking forward to the reward because you came up with it. Who knows better how to benefit you, than you?
Remember to generate a plan for your incentives. It is a good idea to have daily, weekly, and monthly rewards. Your reward system not only holds you accountable to follow through with what goals you have set, but also lets you enjoy your accomplished tasks how you like. Keep in mind that your incentive should be relative to your task. Completing a 10-question quiz with a B or higher probably would not have a “play video games for 2 hours” reward. Some suggestions for rewards: take a walk, play a video game, watch a show, eat a snack, think about your progress, tell a friend or family member about your accomplishment, etc.
It cannot be overstated how crucial this point is if someone wants to become a more independent worker—be a self-starter. This does not necessarily mean that you must be the driven, over-achieving , busy-bee person you may be picturing, but, at the most basic level, be someone who begins tasks, projects, to-dos, etc., rather than waiting on someone to tell you what to do.
Making it common practice to take initiative will radically improve your independence. For example, look at your schedule for the week to see what is coming up rather than waiting for someone to tell you what is on it. If you do poorly on an assignment, reach out to the teacher for help rather than waiting for the teacher to contact you. Create a plan for completing your assignments each week and stick to it rather than missing assignments piling up forcing you to cram and stress. Make it your mission to control your work rather than your work control you!
Do not be afraid to challenge yourself. You should embrace some struggle and spend time with it. Make it a point to pause with a problem before seeking help too quickly. This will help you build resiliency and test yourself on what you can do alone. However, it is smart to know your limitations. Getting help too quickly can be just as harmful as not asking for help at all. Therefore, learn to challenge yourself appropriately, but this wisdom will come in time.
The more you test yourself, the sooner you will gain the wisdom to know when to ask for help and when to wrestle, stretch, and grow from problems. Make sure you can tell yourself that you explored different solutions, fully strived to tackle the problem, before requesting help. Perhaps you will surprise yourself and solve something you thought you were unable to at first! This produces the satisfaction that comes from looking at what you accomplished and being able to say you did it on your own.
Halton Thomson is the social media specialist for Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA) and a former GCA high school social studies teacher of 5 years. When he isn't doing social media for GCA, you can find him most likely at a park with his son, Ty, and new Sproodle,Clive. He enjoys golfing and ping-pong, though rarely at the same time. Film and video has always been a hobby and interest of his; and he is quite a car enthusiast. He attempts to live a fairly active lifestyle, but that is mainly because he has a giant sweet tooth.