Online learning has expanded in recent years. They offer a new world of opportunities to those who want to learn something new or gain a credential. However some online programs, such as massive open online courses (MOOCs), have demonstrated low completion rates, with up to 50 percent leaving in the first week, according to the Bostinno. Hence, even with longer courses, the motivation to stay can be a challenge, with graduation rates slightly lower in online degrees (Adomatis 2014).

Here’s how to stay motivated and complete an online learning course.

Stay Connected

Online learning can be isolating, especially when faced with additional coursework. Many online programs have a forum to connect with fellow students, and these have become more commonplace in recent years. Connecting with students gives peer support and reduces the isolation. For instructors tutoring online material, building in ways to connect with others is vital to achieve those completion rates. Enhancing faculty support to students is vital in increasing retention rates (Bawa 2016). Some students believe the rigor of the course helps maintain motivation due to constant pressure, the standards from the tests and exams, and the expectations from the program curriculum (Berrett 2015).

Map Progress

Many times, online learning can appear daunting. By charting progress the achievements will be more evident and the course not as endless as it may appear. Having a small reward at the end of a module is another motivator for completing a course section. Several programs have built-in progress monitors on a traffic light system, and some have pop-ups to remind students the end of the module is near. Having an orientation program and ensuring students know what to expect is another key factor in improving retention rates (Bawa 2016). Wilson and Allen (2013) found that instructors need to make more of a conscious effort to engage students taking online courses to achieve retention rates.

Discuss the Learning

Discussing an online learning program with others has two main effects. Firstly, it helps family members understand the commitment needed to complete an online program. This is all part of a support network that helps keep students going while studying. For instructors, having an orientation program to the courses helps students realize what is expected of them and the amount of additional work required. It allows students to set realistic goals so they do not become overwhelmed and give up. (Morgan 2016). Finally, for instructors, using motivational behavioral techniques in place of routine teaching methods helps retain students and keep them motivated on a distance learning course (Stanford 2016).

Online learning requires different methods of working to complete the course and stay motivated. Most of all, it’s important for Instructors to build in known methods for motivating and retaining students into their programs. Finally, learning is a lifelong process, and new ways of keeping people engaged and delivering educational courses are emerging all the time, which need to be integrated into programs.