Students who are new to the online course environment can easily run into problems with managing the weekly workload in their courses. This can be due to the relative flexibility online courses offer and the fact that you do not have face to face meetings with your instructors to give you a framework for getting stuff done. If you are new to Excelsior or the online course format I want to offer some tips and tricks on how you could structure your week’s coursework. The following is assuming that you have a discussion board post due during the week and assignments typically due by Sunday.
Monday and Tuesday can be reserved for reading of the course materials and completing your first post on the discussion board. Remember that your discussion posts should be treated as formally as you would writing a paper. Now is not the time to write in text speak. Formal responses with proper citation and references, if needed, will assure that you are getting the best possible grades. Reply to your classmates’ posts and include a follow-up question for them. The point of the discussions is to simulate in class discussion and forward the main points of the week.
These days could be reserved for your assignments. From your reading on Monday and Tuesday you should now have the time to complete the first draft of your assignment. The assignments could vary based on the course and the level, but the aim should be to make the most progress on the assignments theses two days. You may also wish to check the discussion board on one of these days and respond to any comments.
Assuming your schedule allows for the weekend, you could take Friday off. This can give your mind a break from the research and come back fresh for Saturday for final revisions/editing. Check on your discussions in case something interesting is happening in there.
Today would be the day you return to complete the assignment by proofing what you wrote, checking your citations and making any changes. Your assignment should be ready to hand in. Also complete any discussion posts you need to answer.
Read your assignment one final time and submit. Congratulate yourself on a good week of work. If you had everything completed on Friday or Saturday you could use this opportunity to look to the next week and pre-plan/get a head start on the work.
There will be times when you have more or less time to complete work week by week. Above scheduling specific times for your work to be done, I also recommend maintaining good communication with your instructors and advisors. They will be helpful in case you run into problems or situations which may require extra time.
Center for Military Education