Online Education

Online Education Center

Tips for Online Success

Here are some tips* that can help you be successful in your online class.

1. Recognize online learning can be as effective as traditional classes--if you’re serious

  • Expect to work harder than in traditional classes
  • Perform all required reading and activities thoughtfully, not on "auto-pilot"
  • Be self-disciplined about study time and deadlines

2. Take the program and yourself seriously

  • Get the support of family, friends, and roommates
  • Sometimes you'll have to sit in front of the computer for hours
  • When friends want to have fun or relax, you may need to be studying online

3. Make or find a private space where you can study

  • Provides a quiet, neat place to work in peace
  • Helps avoid the temptations of friends, food, and sleep

4. Obtain required course materials before term and verify technology access

  • Check syllabus and orientation info before term
  • Be sure to get correct editions and supplements
  • Note technology requirements (hardware, software, Internet speed, configuration, etc.)

5. Develop a study plan including calendar, readings, discussions, and assignments

  • Print the syllabus and read it carefully at least twice, highlighting key parts
  • Integrate deadlines into your calendar system
  • Schedule time for all class activities
    • Reading and taking notes
    • Reading and posting to discussion forums
    • Completing assignments
    • Taking quizzes and exams
  • Plan to complete assignments early

6. Log on to your course every single day, or at least two times a week, at regular times

  • Discussions are interesting when you follow them closely
  • It may take a couple days to get a question answered
  • It's hard to catch up once behind
  • Instructors may change or update class material
  • A regular study schedule is more likely to be followed

7. Take full advantage of online discussion forums and chat

  • Avoid feeling isolated
  • Make connections with other students
    • Form study groups (face-to-face or online)

8. Participate!

  • Contribute your ideas
  • Read other students' contributions
  • Learn from each other as well as the instructor

9. Take advantage of your anonymity

  • You can take the time to compose carefully-worded postings and responses
  • You don't need to be pushy to be heard
  • You don't need to worry about being judged by your appearance or style

10. Be polite and respectful

  • Just because you're anonymous doesn't mean you should let yourself go
  • A respectful environment helps everyone learn
  • College policies on student behavior and harassment still apply

11. Ask for help if you need it

  • You have to speak up because your professor can't see you
  • Be specific about what you don't understand
  • Use methods the instructor recommends (forums, e-mail, etc.)
  • Other students are usually struggling with the same questions; asking helps you and them

12. Apply what you learn

  • Use your knowledge immediately to remember it best
  • Make connections to what you've learned before and your present or future work
  • Share relevant experience with your classmates to help your classmates

* Adapted from Illinois Online Network, December 2011

Online Education
Building: MLC 210

Phone: 408.864.8969
M-Th: 9:00a-5:00p
F: 9:00a-4:00p


Last Updated: 2/22/16