7 Ways for Online Students to Improve Their Writing Skills
Online degree programs are becoming more popular than ever before, with more and more students ditching campus-based lectures in favor of the more flexible and self-led options that come with studying online. When it comes to succeeding with an online degree program, the importance of excellent writing skills cannot be emphasized enough. This is because unlike campus-based classes that offer credit for oral participation, online programs tend to rely more heavily on written work when it comes to assessment and grading purposes.
A study conducted in 2014 found that college students spend a huge eight to ten hours per day using smartphones, with the majority of usage including texting, social media and email. As a result, students’ academic writing skills are suffering with them being so used to ‘text speak’ and other abbreviations. If you’re considering taking online classes, here are some top tips you can use to improve your writing skills and your grades.
#1. Understand Writing Style Expectations:
It’s crucial that you understand the writing style expectations for each type of assignment that you are going to be completing. For example, an essay will require a more formal, academic tone, while if you’ve been tasked with discussion forum posts, these will usually encourage a more informal and conversational writing style. Journal and reflective assignments may often allow for sentence fragments.
As a student, your ability to write appropriately for the context of each assignment will have a positive impact on your overall class performance. If you’re in doubt about the writing style needed, formal writing is the best choice.
#2. Use Tools and Apps to Help:
It can be easy to make grammar mistakes if you aren’t studying for an English-heavy degree; for example, if you’re taking an MS in Operations Management then chances are, getting your grammar and sentence structure perfect probably hasn’t been a huge priority so far.
Today, technology has made it easier than ever for students to improve their writing skills. Whether it’s grammar, spelling, or sentence structure, using tools such as Grammarly can make a massive difference to the final finish of your paper or project, helping you polish your writing and learn from small mistakes that you may have not noticed previously.
#3. Give Yourself Time:
When you’re studying for an online class, it can be all too easy to procrastinate and put off your work, especially when you’re dealing with the distractions of being at home on a day to day basis. One of the biggest contributors to simple mistakes in students’ writing is rushing. If you leave yourself too little time to spare before your assignment is due, then you’re more likely to make spelling and grammar mistakes that you may have noticed and corrected if you had given yourself enough time to do so. Making a point of starting as early as possible and giving yourself a lot of time to spare can make a huge difference to your overall performance.
#4. Have Someone Proofread:
No matter how much you study and learn to improve your spelling, grammar and writing skills, it’s always harder to spot mistakes in your own work. When you’ve spent hours writing something, it can be easy to overlook mistakes when you re-read it – simply because your brain is so used to it how it is.
Because of this, it is a wise idea to consider having a trusted friend, relative or another student proofread your work before you submit it. If you can, have somebody proofread who is skilled at writing so that they can also give you valuable feedback on your work that you can put to use in the future.
#5. Take Additional Classes:
If you’re seriously interested in improving your writing skills, then you may want to consider the idea of taking some additional classes. For online students, the good news is that there are plenty of online options to choose from which can easily be fitted in alongside your online bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Many online schools will offer additional online classes that you can take to improve your skills in various areas including writing, or you could look for a separate institution offering online programs that you can choose from. Or, if you’d rather learn in a physical setting when it comes to writing, see if there is anything available at your local library, community college, or the college that you are attending online if it is in a commutable distance.
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#6. Dedicate One Device to Academic Writing:
With so many different smartphone and tablet options available today, there’s no denying that technology has made it easier than ever for students to learn, research, and write assignments for their degree. When you’re studying online, you may be accessing your learning materials on a wide range of different devices, and as a result, completing your assignments on different devices too.
Cloud applications such as Google Drive have made it easy for students to start an assignment on their laptop, for example, while being able to pick it back up later on using their tablet or smartphone if needed. However, doing this can risk you losing your focus on academic writing. It’s a good idea to commit yourself to using one device. For example, you could limit your smartphone to social media use and use a laptop for any learning and academic writing.
#7. Ask Questions:
Don’t forget that as an online student, your tutors are there to offer help and guidance for anything that you might need. If you have any questions about your writing performance or would like your tutor to leave you writing-specific feedback that you will be able to apply to your work in the future, then feel free to ask.
As an online student, taking steps to improve your academic writing performance will have a positive effect on your entire degree.