Before you dive into an online Bachelor of Business degree, it’s worth getting yourself set up correctly. Especially if this is your first time dabbling with online learning.
Online learning has a few advantages over face-to-face education – it’s more flexible, you can do it at your own speed and in your own time, and you can learn from anywhere – but it does present some unique challenges, too. With on-campus learning you don’t have to worry too much about setting up the perfect study zone, or the strength of your internet connection, or managing your timetable and workload (at least to the same extent). With flexibility and autonomy often comes more responsibility – with online, there’s no lecturer hovering over your shoulder. You’re in charge of your own education.
With that in mind, here’s a simple online learning checklist to help you prepare for the Bachelor of Business.
Online learning checklist: how to prepare to study a Bachelor of Business online
1. Get good WIFI
For a good online learning experience, you need strong, stable WIFI and a connection that won’t drop out unexpectedly. Your broadband package will need to be able to handle streaming lectures and downloading course materials, and that sort of thing can really chew through your phone’s data plan (if your modem goes down and you end up tethering). A minimum speed of 25Mbps download and 5Mbps upload is recommended, although you should probably be aiming closer to 50Mbps/20Mbps as a baseline.
2. Create a study zone
There’s nothing wrong with doing your online Bachelor of Business from a café, or the kitchen table, or a quiet park somewhere, but having a dedicated place to study can train your brain to focus. We’ve already written an online learning concentration guide, but at the very minimum you should have a flat study surface with plenty of natural light, a supportive chair, and a door you can close. If you’re doing most of your work at night, check out apps like f.lux, too. They can change your screen’s colour temperature, so it’s easier on your eyes. We’ve rounded up some good online study tips here.
3. Make a timetable
When you’re studying on-campus, your timetable is more or less done for you, and it’s pretty easy to stick to. With online learning, you’ve got a lot more flexibility, which is great, but it means you’re responsible for your own time management. The trick with timetables is to be realistic. Don’t set aside seven hours a night to study, because you’ll invariably fall short of that goal. Find a good balance that works for you, and have a look at the course syllabus and key assignment dates beforehand. Map these out on a calendar and set digital reminders, so you don’t get caught out. Blocking out time for key tasks each week, and then holding yourself accountable, is the best way to stay on track.
4. Check the course details
There are a few things every online student needs: the key semester dates (beginning date, end date, breaks and key assignments or exams), contact details for your lecturers, the number of an RMIT Online Course Advisor, and all the course materials for your Bachelor of Business. Download these ahead of time and do some preliminary reading (keep it light, this is just to familiarise yourself with the syllabus). Nothing’s worse than starting an online degree and finding that everyone else is already way ahead.
5. Buy some basic stationary
You might think that online learning takes place entirely online. And that’s partly true. But using pens, paper, post-it notes and notebooks is still a valuable learning tool. In fact, studies have shown that physically writing things down (as opposed to just reading them on a screen) can help you better retain complex information. You don’t need to go overboard here, and everyone likes to learn in different ways, but it’s worth investing in some notebooks, pens and physical learning aids before the course gets going.
6. Block out distractions
If online learning has a disadvantage, it’s that distraction is never far away. Because all your coursework will be done online, you need to be disciplined when it comes to Netflix, Instagram and googling random movie trivia at midnight. Unplugging your modem isn’t really an option here, but there are several concentration apps that can help. Programs like Cold Turkey and Freedom can block certain apps, or you can try digital reward software, like Forest – for every minute you don’t exit the Forest app on your phone, you’ll get a small digital tree. The goal is to grow your mental forest for as long as you can. It’s a gamified approach to distraction, and it can help keep YouTube at bay.
7. Treat this as a “real” degree
An online Bachelor of Business is a real degree, obviously, but you need to dedicate yourself to it in the exact same way you would an on-campus tertiary course. Don’t forget, you’re paying for this degree; it’s an investment in your future career. Take it seriously and hold yourself accountable. One of the best ways to do that is to engage with the coursework, with the lectures, and with your peers. Don’t be afraid to speak up or ask questions during webinars. Email and Slack your lecturers if you don’t understand something. Join some online study groups, or even start your own and do some networking, and get to know your fellow students. Staying focussed is much easier when you’re part of an online learning community.