Be a Successful Online Student

We’ve identified four questions that you should ask yourself before you enroll in an online or blended course. Be honest with yourself. If you answer “yes” to all of these questions, then the online style of learning may be an excellent fit for you. If you answer “no” to any of the questions, online courses may work for you, if you make a few adjustments in your schedule and study habits to succeed.

  1. Do I express myself well in writing and have good reading skills?

    Reading and writing are more important online than in a traditional face-to-face course. You must be able to read others’ writing — both your instructor’s and your fellow students’ — and understand what they mean. You also have to be able to write clearly and concisely, with few grammatical or spelling errors. You must be able to follow written directions to complete an assignment and be willing to ask questions when you don’t understand what to do.

  2. Do I possess basic computer and technical skills?

    You will need:

    • A relatively recent computer, or access to a computer workstation (work, library or university computer lab).
    • A fast internet (broadband) connection, either through a cable modem, DSL, or a “hardwired” campus or public library computer; and ability to upload and download files to your course website, search and browse the web, use email and interact on a discussion forum.
    • To know how to type well and use basic programs such as a word processor.
    • To know how to use other computer programs such as Excel or PowerPoint for some courses. Check the course syllabus as early as possible to find out whether you will be able to meet the requirements.
  3. Can I consistently set aside a minimum of six to 10 hours per week to complete all courses and assignments (estimates vary greatly based on program, number of courses and personal learning style)?

    You will do at least as much work in an online course as in a traditional face-to-face course. You must be prepared to schedule some time online several days each week. You should expect to log in to the course website at least three times per week and spend at least two to three hours doing online work.

  4. Am I willing to take responsibility for my own learning as well as work collaboratively with my classmates and instructor?

    Online courses typically place significantly less emphasis on lecturing and exams. This means that you must be prepared to do different kinds of work than you would do in a traditional face-to-face course. The work required may be more creative, may require more thought than simply memorizing material for testing purposes, and may ask you to demonstrate your understanding of the course ideas and concepts by applying them to real-world situations. You may expect to be involved in small-group collaborative work online.

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