Online Course Success Tips

Online student
Online courses

Advice from fellow students taking online courses.

Make the most of your online course

Following these tips will help you have a successful and smooth online course experience. 

  • Schedule your study time! You should make a schedule of times when you plan to login and work on your course. Make sure you’re logging in several days per week. The best way for you to succeed in an online course is to reduce the risk of procrastination. When you set regular times to "attend" your online class, there is less chance that you’ll fall behind in your work.
  • Take advantage of the "24/7" aspect of online learning! You don't have to respond immediately to questions and assignments in your online classes. Read through the material and the assignment descriptions, as well as the online lecture materials and discussion questions, and then let the information "sink in" before completing your work.
  • Cut and Paste!  When you need to post your thoughts to one of the discussion boards, compose your message in a word processor. The word processor will allow you to check the spelling and grammar of your work, and it will also be easier to edit your thoughts. When you're done editing, you can copy and paste your writing into the discussion forum. Ctrl + C (copy) and Ctrl + V (paste) highlighted items with the keyboard combinations.
  • Sign post your humor! In an online class, no one will be able to tell whether you are smiling or winking if you make a sarcastic comment. Unfortunately, others might think that you are being serious and might misunderstand your point unless you clearly indicate that your statement was meant to be taken humorously. If you are adding humorous points, it will be helpful to others in the class if you sign post those remarks, such as “I figured that my raise this year will be about a nickel. (sarcasm)” or, “(joke) Mathematics is made up of 50% formulas, 50% proofs, and 50% interpretation.” 
  • Remember to be kind and courteous! Don't "say" anything in an online course that you would not speak into a microphone in a crowded auditorium. When you post something online, everyone will "hear" it, and they may copy and paste your message to share with others. Remember that the online environment joins together people of all different ages, races, disabilities, religions, and values. Be extra sensitive when making your remarks. 
  • Ask questions; ask lots of questions!  If you feel confused, you need to take care of it right away. Your instructor wants you to succeed in the class, and your instructor is eager to answer your questions. When you have questions, it’s best to post them to the “questions and answers” discussion board. It’s very likely that others in the class have the same question, and they will appreciate getting an answer as well. If you feel that you're really struggling in the course, don't allow yourself to get overwhelmed and then be forced to drop the course. Instead, contact your instructor right away to see if there are other resources or explanations that will help get you back on track.
  • Consume everything! Some materials that your instructor provides are required, and others are optional or supplementary. If you really want to do well in the course, take advantage of all the extra materials your instructor has provided and gathered for you. The extra materials provide more in-depth information and often present the concepts and topics in new and interesting ways. 
  • Practice, practice, practice! In an online class you might feel as though you can quickly scan and glance through materials, but avoid the temptation. Just like any other skill, from driving a car to playing a musical instrument, the more time you spend studying and practicing the skills from your course, the quicker they will become an automatic and intuitive operation. 
  • Keep connected! Stay in touch with your classmates and your instructor, and use opportunities to build personal and social relationships in the same manner you would in a face-to-face class.