Compared to the traditional class setting, online learning can seem less structured and some students mistakenly think it is easier!
The reality is the online learner must take on more responsibility and ownership of the learning process. We are committed to providing an online experience that is relevant and will prepare you for your chosen career. You must also be aware of the best practices of online students and commit to be prepared for your online experience.
Be a Self-Motivated, Self-Directed Learner
- Take responsibility for your own learning and plan to be a self-directed learner. Don’t expect the instructor to provide you with all the information or direction you need in a course.
- Ask for what you need from your instructor. Your instructor trusts you to meet your learning needs. If you have a question, ask for clarification. If you feel lost or confused, ASK!
- Work on being flexible and patient. Life has a way of intruding in the online classroom that can sometimes be uncomfortable and trying. Technical issues and difficulties are also a part of that life. So “go with the flow” becomes an important mantra in this process.
- Have high standards for your work, thoughtfully consider feedback, and take responsibility for improving the areas in which you experience difficulty.
- Stay on top of your reading assignments and develop your research and analysis skills. Assume that taking initiative on your part will be positively received and will maximize your learning.
Sharpen Your Time Management Skills
- Be prepared for the amount of time that online learning takes and make time for it in your week.
- Due to the less structured nature of the class, plan time to study.
- The instructor will prepare a detailed syllabus and outline of the course expectations. Be sure to read and understand these documents.
- Log on to your courses frequently and timely. Look for announcements, check the calendar, look for new discussion posts, check for course messages, and participate in the class.
- Make sure you ask your family and friends for their support. You will need time to complete your work in this course - time you may have to take away from them. Share your time management plan with them so they understand the demands on your life now.
- Timely communication is important. Students are expected to submit assignments and discussion posts on time. However, if for some reason you are unable to meet the deadline, contact your instructor immediately, usually by email or a message within the course, to discuss your situation.
Know Computer Basics
- Know how to use your PC or Mac.
- Know how to troubleshoot basic computer problems such as staying connected to the Internet and downloading software.
- Have a basic understanding of MS Word. You may need to know PowerPoint and Excel.
- Know how to send and receive emails.
- Know how to safely search for information on the Internet.
- Know how to research topics, books, and articles using the online library. To learn about using the online library, ask a librarian for help.
- Don’t let technology problems wait.
Follow Netiquette Basics
- Use proper grammar and spelling.
- Use complete sentences. Use upper and lower case appropriately.
- Follow style conventions as expected in your academic discipline.
- Do not use all caps when typing; people may interpret this as YELLING.
- Avoid using acronyms; your reader may not know what it means.
- Leave a blank line between paragraphs. It helps the eye follow your words.
- Use short paragraphs.
- The classroom is a safe learning environment. Topics and discussion threads stay within the classroom.
Write Interesting and Thoughtful Discussion Posts
- If you are asked a question in a discussion, blog, or otherwise, be sure to reply thoughtfully and timely.
- Be concise and to the point. Make sure you have a point.
- Avoid statements such as, “Me, too” and “I agree.” It is more interesting to know why you agree than the fact that you agree.
- It is not enough to enter the class and read what others have posted; students need to interact, share ideas, and give feedback in the classroom. These interactions create the community among participants and contribute to learning.
- Read what you have written one last time before you actually post it. Check for spelling and grammar errors. Make sure your post makes sense. If you are giving feedback, make sure your points are clear and sound friendly.
- Rely on and be responsible to your colleagues in a course. Be willing to provide good, constructive feedback to one another.
- If you become upset or angry with something someone has posted, take a deep breath (or three or four), wait 24 hours, then respond. That posting generally looks very different the next day.
Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2003). The Virtual Student: A Profile and Guide to Working with Online Learners. San Francisco: Jossey Bass