Online Course Readiness

As you prepare to step into the online learning environment, it's important to know what's expected of you to ensure that you make the most of your learning experience. Read about some of the following skills, abilities and tips that are critical for success in an online course.

Access to a Computer and the Internet

In order to be successful in an online course, it's important to have a high-speed Internet connection along with the proper computer system and software. If you do not have a computer you may want to consider purchasing a computer or using one on campus or at your local library.

Persistence and Self-Motivation

The freedom and flexibility offered by online learning courses puts you in control of your learning; however, it requires a greater degree of responsibility and self-motivation to keep up with the flow of the learning process.

Good Time Management

Online learning courses require the same amount of work as your typical classroom course. Remember, when you take a classroom course on campus, you usually spend three hours a week in class and an additional six to nine hours a week on coursework. In an online course, you will need to spend all of these hours online--reading, completing activities and assignments, participating in discussions and interacting with your peers and instructor.

Active Participation in Course Activities

Online learning does not mean studying alone. Our online courses often use discussions to provide you with ample opportunities to interact with your peers and connect with the instructor. In online discussions, you can share insight with your peers and learn from each other. One of the most important things in online learning is to establish trust among the course participants, many of whom you might not meet face-to-face.

Effective Written Communication

In online courses, nearly all communication is written and expressed in discussions, emails and written assignments. You may be asked to defend your viewpoint or to challenge another's ideas as part of your online discussions. It's important to feel comfortable enough to share your thoughts and opinions with your peers in an open, friendly and respectful manner. The benefit of online discussions is that you are given time to reflect on the information before posting your message or responding to others.

Ask Questions

Your online Instructors want you to succeed in the course; however, they cannot see you, so you need to speak up when you need help. Don't be shy about asking questions or asking for help from your Instructor, Teaching Assistant or your peers.

Essential Computer Skills

While you do not need to be a computer expert, having basic skills will make your online experience easier. It's important to have an understanding of basic computer usage (e.g., creating folders, switching between programs, formatting and backing up media, using a word processing program and web browser, searching the Internet, etc.).

We don't expect you to know how to do everything before you start your first online course. You'll have the opportunity to learn and practice these skills as you participate. The expectation is that you are willing to learn. Remember, these are only guidelines to help you think about the skills and strategies you may find helpful to succeed in your online course. Each student has different learning styles and preferences. Apply those that fit your learning situation.