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How to be successful in an online classroom
September 18, 2016, 9:29 am

Online courses are a wonderful way to earn a degree without having to attend campus, however these courses are demanding. What a student needs is time management and a slightly different attitude towards learning. For those who are considering opting for an online course, here are a few do’s and don’ts to consider.


Schedule a specific time to attend: The key to success in an online class is to treat the class as if it has a classroom schedule. The advantage of online learning is that students can access the course at convenient times. A major disadvantage here is that the class can easily be forgotten or delayed. So it is best to schedule time on at least two different days to access the course shell. There will also be work outside the shell, so time for research and to study must be scheduled in too.

Read the instructions carefully: Most online classes have a link in the home section for the syllabus. Download and read carefully the given instructions and in case of doubt, contact the instructor. Leave no room for future confusion or difficulties.

Take a virtual tour of the class: Online shells are not difficult to navigate. Click on all the links and explore the class, preferably on the first day. Make sure you understand all the terms being used in the course. Becoming comfortable with navigating the course shell is vital to success in the class.

Contact the instructor with questions: Each course should and will provide you with a way to contact the faculty. There could be a virtual office or you could obtain their number and email address which is available in almost all sites. Make sure you are clear about your doubts and not end up confusing the faculty all together.

Read all the assignments before you post: It is tempting to just check into the course, post opinions, turn in a short paper, and try to take a test or quiz with the book open. This is not wise. Tests and quizzes are timed, so using a book is often not helpful. Discussion posts and papers are often graded in the same way with a rubric. Online courses require a great deal of work. Opinions are not welcome; research information is. Completing the reading is vital to success in the class.


Think this is a self-paced course: Online courses allow students a great deal of adaptability but they not self-paced courses. There are deadlines to every assignment and students have to keep up with their work. Thinking of completing the course in its last week is a poor idea.

Try to ‘sit in the back row’ of the course: There is a great deal of difference in sitting in the last row of a classroom and ‘sitting in the back row’ of a virtual class. There is work due every week from every student. In many ways, an online course is much more demanding than a ground based course. There are no lectures to sleep through, no back row to hide in.

Think it will be easier than a ground based course: Once again online courses have work due every week that requires reading, studying or even lab work. Lectures might be recorded in podcasts or software, and these cannot be skipped. Faculty does not lecture on the information in the text, so students must read the text and supplements.

Sign in only once a week: Most online courses require students to post at least twice a week. Often there are announcements posted by the faculty early in the week with information about the assignments. Students who attempt to sign in and complete at the last minute will be buried under the work load and faculty has their own way of tracking how much work a student has put in. For all these reasons, it is imperative for a student to sign in twice a week, starting early so that they do not get into trouble.

Plagiarize: Plagiarism is a very serious issue. Since students will be working online, it is easy to surf the web for answers and even easier to copy and paste information. But it is also equally easy for the faculty to test your paper for plagiarism. To be on the safer side, avoid plagiarism no matter how hard the assignment or questions might be.

Online courses have made education accessible to more people today than in the past. They are challenging, but students can be successful by using a bit of time management, by exploring and understanding the course demands, and by becoming familiar with the tools of the site. 

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