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Get Ready for Online Learning

Taking an online course is different than going in to a classroom. Successful online students are committed to their studies. Though online learning offers more flexibility and convenience, it can be more demanding of your time and energy than in-person classes. Online students need to:

  • Know how to use technology (for example, emailing, using a web browser, and navigating through an online course).
  • Log in at least three times per week to participate in a course. Some students log in as often as twice per day.
  • Commit approximately six hours per week to online learning.
  • Use good time management skills and exercise self-discipline to ensure enough time to study and complete all assignments.
  • Take notes as they study.
  • Enjoy communicating in writing and reading the writing of others.
  • Proactively seek help when problems arise.
  • Display strong communication, which is an essential element of an online course. Online learners must be willing to share thoughts, experiences, and ideas with a group in writing and carefully consider their responses with professional respect and courtesy.

Are You Ready?

Do you think you're ready for online learning? Take our online readiness quiz to find out!

Online Readiness Quiz

More About Successful Online Learning

Reliable Access to a Computer and Internet

To be a successful student in an online course, you need to have regular, unlimited access to a computer and a high-quality internet connection. If you experience frequent busy or dropped signals, then you may have difficulty completing courses on time and participating in chat sessions. Learn about computer, internet, and WiFi resources for students.

Participation in Written Group Discussions

Most communication in an online class consists of written messages between you and the instructor, along with discussions among class participants. If you have difficulty with an assignment or have questions, then you must be willing to let the instructor know. Good typing skills are a plus.

Check out the following resources to learn about online discussions and how to improve your typing skills:

Proficiency with Email and the Web

You must log in to your online classes and interact several times a week. This can include working on assignments, participating in discussions, and responding to email. If you're not accustomed to routinely accessing the internet, then it may be difficult to motivate yourself to do the work. You must be disciplined enough to keep your coursework current.

Check out the following resources to improve your proficiency with online interaction:

Careful Online Reading

Much of the reading material in online classes is presented online and you must read it carefully. Some students print out the syllabus and key information to read offline. It's important to realize you can't just skim over the content and be able to have a clear understanding of when assignments are due and what is expected of you.

Check out the following resources to improve your reading and studying skills:

Planning Ahead

It's often tempting to wait until the last minute to work on an assignment. If you procrastinate, then you may learn that things don't always work as well or as quickly as you might hope. With online classes, it's better to get your work done ahead of time – that way, problems can be resolved before a deadline.

Check out the following resources to improve your planning and time management skills:

Solving Problems and Learning New Technology

Learning new computer programs can be frustrating. Taking an online course may require you to learn new applications beyond just email to interact with other students and complete your assignments. Check out our technology resources to learn more.