Success in Online Classes

Success = Getting Questions Answered 

If you have a question about the course you are enrolled in, such as, submitting an assignment, taking a quiz, finding content, etc, start by doing the following:

  • Check your Online Learning Basics tutorial course for the video you need on a particular topic.
  • Check out the Canvas Student Quick Guide or these student-authored video tutorials
  • Check the course syllabus. This should be located in your Canvas course.
  • Check in the Canvas announcements section for related announcements from your instructor.
  • Ask your classmates by posting a question to the Canvas discussion box. 

If you've done all of that and still have questions, then contact the instructor.

Simple Steps on How to Be a Successful Online Student

Follow these simple steps to become a successful online student:

1. Plan enough time - online learning requires as much, or more, time as a classroom course.

2. Be familiar with the computer, Internet, email, web browser(s), and search engines.

3. READ and be familiar with the course syllabus.

4. Become familiar with the course objectives, requirements, meeting dates (if required), assignments, and testing schedules.

5. Get organized and be motivated to be successful in the course.

6. Use a calendar (app or print) to avoid missing due dates and deadlines.

7. Log on to your course and check messages and student email daily.

8. Interact with your instructor by asking questions.

9. Access resources provided by your instructor or search the web for your own resources.

10. Organize your study time, work hours, and free time. Don't forget to leave time for studying!

11. Check the course modules in most online courses for additional information. Do not get in the habit of just clicking on the next item in your "To Do" list. 

12. Ask for help if and when you need it.

Strong reading and writing skills

You need to have strong reading skills and be able to communicate effectively through writing. Most of the material in the online environment will come from your textbooks and written lectures, therefore strong reading and critical thinking skills are very important for success in an online course. Online students communicate through such text-based tools, as emails, discussion forums, chats, and instant messaging. You need to feel comfortable expressing yourself in writing.

The self-motivated and independent learner

While online courses can offer more flexibility in scheduling, they require more self-discipline and independence than on-campus courses. Some students can find this uncomfortable and not suitable for their learning style. They may miss face-to-face interaction with an instructor and peers, which helps to keep them on track. In the online environment, you have to be able to start and to work on tasks on your own, without someone keeping you focused, and you have to be self-disciplined in order to follow the class schedule and meet deadlines.

Time commitment

Online classes take as much time as regular on-campus classes. You need to set aside sufficient time for study. Plan to spend at least as much time working on the assignments and studying as you would with a traditional course. Note that some students report spending even more time on online classes than for traditional ones. The time that you need to devote to a 3-credit course will be approximately 12 hours a week.

Even though you may not have to "be" in class on some specific day and time, you still have to follow the course schedule provided by your instructor. Remember that online classes are not independent study courses; you are still required to "show up" and participate actively.

Since online courses are asynchronous, they will continue developing and changing even if you are not online. You need to be online frequently enough and log in at least three to four times per week in order to keep up with the content flow, complete assignments, follow discussions, and communicate with your classmates and instructor. Some courses may even require you to log in every day.

Never wait until the last minute to complete your assignments. You may have a technical problem or run out of time which will cause frustration. One of the major reasons for failing online classes is procrastination since it is very easy to fall behind in the online environment. Make sure to set aside specific time on a regular basis to participate in your course. Schedule specific times to log in and to study.

Active learner

Online students must be active learners, self-starters who are not shy or afraid to ask questions when they do not understand. Remember that you, not the instructor, must be in control of your learning process.

Since your instructor cannot see you, you need to "speak up" right away if you have problems and be as explicit as possible; otherwise, there is no way others will know that something is wrong.

Remember that your instructor is not the only source of information. Most of the time you will be able to post your question in the discussion forum and your classmates will help you as well.

If you have technical difficulty, problems understanding course content, or difficulty meeting the deadline, seek help right away and contact your instructor to make arrangements.