Tips for Being Successful with an Online Course

An important step to becoming a successful online student is to orient yourself to the online course. The sooner you are comfortable accessing the course, the sooner you can focus on the course content. To orient yourself to an online course, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Log-in to the course. Once you have received your user ID and password, ensure that you can successfully log-in to the course. Bookmark or Add the log-in page to your saved list of favorite web sites.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the course navigation. The time to click and explore is in the beginning - before class starts!
  3. Read the course syllabus/outline.
    1. Note assignments and record any important deadlines on a calendar that you regularly use. You can also mark dates when you plan to begin working on larger assignments.
    2. Make a list of any additional materials you need to get before the course begins.
    3. Revisit the course syllabus/outline throughout the course as you work through each section.
  4. Explore the course. Skim over several sections of the course. Don't spend too much time looking at the content, just get a sense of how much reading is required, what topics are covered and what kind of activities or tests are included.
  5. Look over the list of resources or references. Are the resources required or just recommended? Will you need to go through the library to get them or buy them from the bookstore, or are they available through a web site?
  6. Practice using the communication tools. Most instructors include a welcome message in an online discussion area. Use the email function within the course to contact the instructor within the first week and introduce yourself. Do not assume the instructor will contact you. If you have any problems or questions, contact your instructor. Don't be afraid to contact your instructor, your questions and comments are important.
  7. If you have questions or concerns about any part of the online course during your orientation, make a note and contact your instructor. Be as specific as possible and if you don't receive a reply within one or two days, try contacting the instructor again. Because there can be problems at the beginning of an online course or delays in setting up online communication channels, you might want to try contacting the instructor by phone rather than by e-mail.
  8. Be ready for "technology days" online. Just as there are "snow days" during your college life, there will be times that you simply cannot attach to the Angel site. Plan for these instances by keeping current with your studies! If you are continually having technology problems, you may need to investigate as to what the problem is. If it is at a college lab, report the problem to the person responsible for the lab. If the problem is your personal computer, you will need to find out if it is your connection to the Internet, or if your computer is not functioning properly and needs servicing. You may also find that you have a computer virus and need to have the virus removed. Spyware can also inhibit your Internet browser from behaving correctly.

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