The future is digital, and though there are certainly benefits to attending university in person and on campus, the fact is that it is becoming less essential as time moves forward. Master’s programs in particular benefit more from being undertaken in either an entirely digital environment, or at least mostly digital. There will always be exceptions. BSW to MSW programs, Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work, for example, have field placement requirements that must be conducted in person.
You can continue to work and enroll in a top-ranked program like online BSW to MSW programs at most colleges without having to worry about where you live, and this is opening up so many possibilities and doors for students everywhere.
When it comes to professional development, online education is the future. To make the most out of such a degree, however, students need to leverage all the digital resources available to them. This includes the support offered by the university and also the third-party tools available to all online.
Existing Digital Resources
There are many great digital resources today. Online education has come a very long way, which means that students can often benefit from a maximum degree wherever they are located. Social workers looking for BSW to MSW programs, for example, can more often than not apply for a top program no matter where they are located in the United States.
These BSW to MSW programs are not just designed to be completed digitally (with the exception of a field placement); they are designed to be flexible. The goal of online education is not to make learning remote. Instead, the goal is to make it flexible so that professionals can continue to work while they progress their academic qualifications.
This way, a social worker can continue to work while completing their choice of BSW to MSW programs. They can get the field experience, continue to support themselves, and slowly but surely work towards their MSW qualification all from the comfort of their home at their own pace.
This part-time, flexible format with dedicated support is how online degrees have thrived and how they will continue to thrive. Unlike on-campus programs, online degrees are made for the modern professional.
Being flexible is the first step, however. To truly unlock the potential of online education, you will need to leverage additional digital tools and resources.
Institution Tools and Support
One of the most important tools you will have access to are the ones offered through the university itself. A well-designed digital degree will have everything from virtual lectures and seminars to downloadable content.
Third-Party Tools and Support
There are so many great third-party tools and support for students. There is everything, from game-based educational tools to help teach students coding to new digital platforms for educators to expand beyond their existing structures. In addition, there are new tools out there that are being used to host conferences and events.
There are so many different tools out there to help students thrive, both independently and through their educator. From note-taking tools that automatically save the source, open-source resources allow you access to textbooks that are otherwise too expensive.
Leveraging Traditional Study Support with the Digital
Many traditional study support tools, resources, and strategies can be translated for the digital world. Many of these can be worked around existing and common tools like social media or video messaging, and others have new platforms altogether to help you extract the benefits of in-person learning for a remote environment.
How to Get the Most Out of Digital Education
Digital tools can make many of the everyday tasks easier and clearer. They can also make it more enjoyable. What it cannot do, however, is improve your own routines and drive. To get the most out of your digital education, you will need smart strategies both online and offline.
- Find the Right Tools for You
The first step is to find the right tools for you. In a perfect world, all of the tools that you are recommended will be just what you need to easily study, learn, and practice what you are learning. As any student can tell you, however, even tried, and true programs have their problems. There will never be a one-size-fits-all solution, and that is okay. It is just a matter of finding the right tools for you that help you be your best and learn at your own pace.
- Remove Distractions
Getting into the zone is one of the best ways to study and learn. Most, however, will have trouble focusing on a meaningful way – and that is for those who are neurotypical, much less for those with other conditions that make it difficult to focus and concentrate on an everyday basis.
There are a few ways that you can remove distractions. To start, use a plugin or other software tool that will block you from accessing distracting sites on your computer and phone. You can often set these to restrict your access for a certain period of the day or for so many minutes or hours.
- Plan for Breaks
Existing without distractions is great, but it is not sustainable. Breaks are an important component to being productive, especially when you are completing an online degree. You should not spend a long period staring at a screen. It is hard on the eyes, and it can cause issues like headaches.
By planning your breaks and doing simple exercises, like focussing on far away objects (not a screen) for more than ten seconds, you can ease the strain on your eyes. During this time, it is also a good idea to do simple stretches and other exercises.
The goal with these breaks is to take your mind off of what you were learning (too much focus on anything can cause the brain to skip over information as it fatigues) and improve your health.
You want to focus on getting more blood circulation and working on your posture and spinal health. Stretches and light exercises can be fast to do during a break and can help you return to your study or learning session feeling refreshed.
- Improve Your Health
Your health matters. It matters in your job as much as it matters in your education. Nurses, doctors, and even social workers, in particular, know the importance of health and wellbeing. Their jobs are taxing, both on the body and on the mind. Without being in full health, the stress and anxiety felt throughout the day can compound and lead to disastrous results.
And that is in a pure career environment. Add on an additional responsibility like your education, and you also have energy levels to contend with. The best way to juggle everything is to improve your health.
It is recommended that you apply to top-quality schools and programs like these BSW to MSW programs 9 months to 12 months in advance. Then, use this time in-between to improve your health and routines so that you are on the top of your game by the time you start.
- Collaborate Your Learning
We are social creatures, and therefore, social learning is one of the best tools in our arsenal. On-campus, this is used to its full advantage. You have classes and seminars full of students. You have your own personal advisor. You have people around you for study sessions.
When you learn online, you do not have these resources near you – or do you? Today there are many, many great ways to get the same collaborative, social learning environment online.
This is more than just attending live video classes. Many cloud-based note-taking apps make it simple to share your notes with others. In return, you get notes, thoughts, examples and can benefit from the hard work of others.
Students on campus share in this sort of note-taking all the time. They do it to create study guides so that you can revise easier. Just because you are studying online and remotely does not mean you should not have access to these collaborative learning tools – and thankfully, all you need are cloud-based tools.
- Use Offline Digital Tools to Learn on the Go
Most tools will be online. Collaborative and other social-based tools like cloud-based notes, video study groups, and even virtual study spaces all require the internet to work, yes. They are not, however, the only tools that can help you.
You have a lot of power in your phone. You can read study notes, download, and finish the required reading for your BSW to MSW programs, and can even catch up with recorded lectures and more.
There are many simple ways that you can customize your own tools as well. Text-to-speak is not perfect but considering all you need is to highlight the text in question and have your phone read aloud, the potential is there. You can listen to notes or readings while driving to work, or you can create your own voice notes to drive home the concepts you need to remember (both for your degree and your career).
Budgeting for Cost
Some tools will be free. Some tools will be paid for. Before you pay, however, always explore your options. Your department may be willing to pay for your use of the tool if you petition them and they see how useful said tool would be for the future of their program.
The same can be said for your workplace. If the tool you want to use – an educational resource, for example – is just as beneficial to your employer as it is to your education, then there is a chance they will cover the cost.
Many tools also have special student prices. Adobe products, for example, have a student price that you can apply for.
In the event that none of these options are available to you, however, then remember to claim the cost as an expense on your taxes. It is, after all, for your education and your career.
Keep an Eye on the Horizon
There will always be new tools and resources being developed. That is the fact of life. The tools you use to complete any BSW to MSW programs will be different from the student completing that same online BSW to MSW programs five, ten years from now.
There is no point in wishing for tools that do not yet exist unless, of course, you are prepared to develop that tool. However, for most, all you need to do is keep an ear and eye out for new tools. Some may help you; others are just flashy distractors that do not actually do anything better or easier.
For 2021, the best tools available are all centered around digital collaboration. From note-sharing apps to video calls, communicating and working with others remotely is a powerful one.
Continue to Use These Tools for Success
The good news is that, for the most part, the tools that you use and enjoy during your online education can often be used in your career. In addition, personal development and a commitment to lifelong learning are the best ways to care for your health, wellbeing and help you complete your goals.
Use the online and digital resources you have become comfortable with, and keep an ear out for new, better tools. You can easily use them to help you progress your skills and learn on the job. You can even use them to help your team or help you stay organized on a project. There are so many possibilities out there because these tools help you learn, absorb, and organize information.
Apply them to your education, to your career, and even to your personal life. You will get more out of your efforts and keep up the good habits you have developed while completing those BSW to MSW programs or whatever degree you are committed to. You can do so much to better yourself and your career, and the right tools make it easier.
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