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Nine Essential Strategies for Success in Online Master of Education Programs

March 27, 2024

Interest and participation in online degree programs are growing. According to the 2023 report The Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE), 36 percent of chief online officers (COOs) at U.S. colleges and universities noted growth in their fully online programs, while 20 percent saw growth in hybrid programs. Most COOs in the CHLOE survey agreed that “interest in online options has not yet peaked.” 

Online master’s degrees in education number among the options gaining popularity. Graduate students in education embrace the convenience of online learning, which enables them to expand their program options beyond local choices, eliminates the need to commute to campus, and makes it easier for them to earn a degree while remaining in their current job, immediately applying what they learn to real-world situations.  

Online learning is not without its challenges. Success in the online environment requires a different approach than traditional residential programs. This article reviews tips for success drawn from the experiences of successful Tulane University online Master of Education (MEd) students.

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How Do Online MEd Programs Differ from Residential Degrees?

Online Master of Education (MEd) programs, like the one offered by Tulane University, typically cover the same curriculum as their residential counterparts. The differences lie in how the course material is presented. The following features set online programs apart: 

  • Students can attend live, synchronous classes online from anywhere. 
  • Flexible scheduling allows students to work full-time while studying.
  • Students are expected to engage in more self-directed learning.
  • Some programs offer on-campus immersions, allowing students to gain practical experience.  

Tulane built the online MEd program to mirror the residential format; online students participate in interactive classes and activities and have access to faculty during office hours. 

Strategies for Success in Online Education Degree Programs

Expectations of online students vary by program and institution, but the following strategies should benefit anyone pursuing an online MEd degree. 

Managing Time 

Effective time management is crucial in an online learning environment. Consider your work and family responsibilities when establishing your study schedule. Next, review your course commitments, including live classes and assignment deadlines. Tulane’s learning management system (LMS) makes it easy for students track deadlines and course calendars. Once you take stock of your commitments, break each task into manageable subtasks and use a calendar or to-do list to schedule time for each. 

Participating in Discussions 

Participating in online discussions can help build your understanding of the course material. Beyond academics, these discussions foster a sense of community with your peers.

Follow these collaboration tips to get the most out of your online discussions: 

  • Engage thoughtfully: Contribute to discussions by providing insights or asking questions that stimulate further conversation.
  • Participate regularly: Participate in live classes and discussion boards regularly to stay connected with the course material and your peers.
  • Be respectful: Foster a positive online environment by communicating respectfully, acknowledging diverse perspectives, and avoiding offensive language.
  • Support your ideas with evidence: Back your ideas with relevant data from the course material or external sources to promote informed discussion.

Building a Support System 

Building a support network is vital to success in an online academic environment. Consider asking family and colleagues for help balancing your work and life commitments with your studies. Also, investigate your university’s student support services; Tulane provides support through a team of student success coaches. 

Setting Clear Goals 

Setting clear academic and career goals can help online students stay motivated throughout their programs. Focus on the skills and expertise you may gain and how they align with your personal goals. For example, students interested in the Tulane online MEd should embrace equity-centered education leadership, as that is among the program’s core values. 

Communicating Effectively 

Reading nonverbal cues on video calls differs from in-person collaboration; written communication poses similar challenges. Clear and concise communication is vital in online learning environments. Consider the most appropriate platform for your questions and comments. Some questions are better suited to live discussions, while others can be asked via text-based applications. Online programs typically offer various communication channels to share questions and insights. Tulane School of Professional Advancement (SoPA) students receive a dedicated Tulane email account and access to the Canvas LMS.  

Embracing Technology 

Embracing technology can bolster online student success. Your online program likely uses collaboration tools, including Zoom or other video conferencing platforms for live discussions, the university LMS, and apps like WhatsApp or GroupMe to connect with classmates. Explore and actively engage with these tools to get the most from your online learning experience. 

Seeking Feedback and Guidance 

Seeking feedback on assignments and projects is invaluable. Students can gain constructive insights that reinforce their learning and continuous academic improvement. Tulane online MEd students can engage with faculty during virtual office hours to ask questions and discuss goals. 

Balancing Work and Life Commitments

Online students need effective strategies to balance personal, professional, and academic commitments. It is essential to find a pace of study that works. Tulane students can take advantage of a flexible online format that accommodates varied schedules, including a part-time pace that helps them balance various commitments. 

Other helpful strategies include: 

  • Prioritization
  • Effective time management
  • Setting clear boundaries (and learning to say ‘no’)
  • Asking for help from friends and colleagues

Taking Advantage of Resources

Universities want to see their students succeed and may provide various resources to support them. These could include support coaches and enrollment advisors (which Tulane offers), research tools, and learning materials. Tulane students can also take advantage of on-campus facilities like the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library

Explore Leading-Edge Online Learning from Tulane University

Online MEd students can set themselves up for success with the nine essential strategies outlined in this article. Prospective students looking for a flexible MEd program designed for working professionals should consider the Tulane online MEd. Tulane online MEd students enjoy flexibility in scheduling and location without forfeiting opportunities to engage with interactive course content and a diverse cohort of peers and expert faculty. 
To learn more about the Tulane online MEd, connect with an enrollment advisor and schedule a one-on-one session.

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