Online Strategies for Success

How to be Successful in Online Courses

Online students must be self-directed in order to complete the assignments and readings each week. Successful online students carefully manage their time, plan ahead and reach out early and often for assistance when needed. They dig deep into the readings and course materials, adding new ideas and information to course discussions and assignments. 

  1. Be comfortable communicating through writing.  Some classes may give you chances for video or audio chat, but most of what you will be doing in online classes is writing. Contact your instructor or student services if you are struggling with the writing portion of the class.
  2. Be ready to work in online groups. There are tools within Blackboard to let you do group assignments and connect with your peers.
  3. Be willing to share stories about your life, past classes, work experience, etc. as part of the course and to connect with others. Instructors work hard to make sure these discussions are safe and respectful.
  4. Self-discipline. Online courses are NOT easier than face-to-face courses. With the freedom and flexibility of online courses comes the responsibility of finishing the work.  Students who fall behind have a hard time trying to catch up.
  5. Ask for help. Because you are not in the same room as the instructor, it is harder for him or her to know if you are struggling with something about the course. Many instructors will have online virtual office hours and are available via email.
  6. Commit to the time.  You need to be prepared to spend significant hours on each class, maybe as much as 12 or 15 hours each week depending on the course. You are going to have to manage your time and stick to a regular study schedule.
    1. Plan on spending 2-3 hours studying each week per credit.
    2. At the start of the semester, go through the course calendar and markdown deadlines.
    3. Log onto Blackboard and look over each class daily.
    4. Pace yourself, day to day, giving plenty of time to space out required readings, assignments, posting to discussions.
  7. Join the Class Community. Casual discussions can make the course more enjoyable for you, help you make friends and network with your classmates, and increase your motivation.
  8. Be sure you have access to the internet and a good computer.  While it is possible to access classes with smartphones or tablets, you will find the coursework is easier to complete on a computer. Be sure you have other helpful equipment such as headphones and microphones.
  9. Find a comfortable, convenient study space to use regularly. This will make it easier for you to get in the habit of regular studying.
  10. Learn how to navigate the course. Take some time to learn your way around Blackboard – where the readings are, where the lectures or notes are, where the discussion boards are, etc.  Also, explore what else is available online – the library for example, or student services.
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