Distance Learning Tips

Let’s face it—taking online classes for the first time can be a real adjustment. Here are some tips to help you become more comfortable with the online setting: Review all the help files and course materials available (i.e. syllabus, bibliography, description of assignments, grading and evaluation criteria, etc.). Navigate through your class and make sure you can access all of the links and resources. Practice posting to the course’s discussion forum. Manage your time! This is so critical for online courses. Schedule set times to work on assignments.

Most students generally go through an adjustment period as they learn the procedures for taking online classes.

Here are some tips for becoming more comfortable with the online environment:

1. Review the Materials

Take time to review all help files and course materials available. Your instructor should provide some helpful tools to guide you through the course. These tools normally include a course syllabus, bibliography, and description of assignments, grading and evaluation criteria, as well as others. Online courses provide these same tools plus many more.

2. Practice Before Hand

Spend some time navigating through your class and making sure you can access all of the links and resources. Practice posting to the course’s discussion forum and ask a fellow classmate to join you in the chat room for a practice session.

3. Manage Your Time

Manage your time. It’s very easy to spend far too little time or far too much time on the class. Set designated blocks of time to work on assignments. The rule of thumb for classroom courses is that students can expect to spend four hours outside of the class working on content for every hour spent in the classroom. The same is often true of online classes as the competencies are the same for both the classroom and online.

Communicating Online

Effective communication is critical to success. When communicating online in a text-based environment, it pays to remember that you will not have all of those non-verbal cues that you get in an on-ground classroom–neither will your instructor or fellow students. Keeping this in mind, communications should be clearly stated and the same courtesies and respect used in a classroom setting should be used online. In addition, you will be responsible for initiating more contact with your instructor and classmates and staying current on all assignments.