Resources for Online Learners
Be serious and committed about the class and yourself as a student.
Tell your co-workers, family and friends about your endeavor.
- Ask for their support for the hours you will need to be at your computer, especially during evenings and weekends when others may be engaging in leisure activities.
- Stay in touch with people who respect what you’re working on.
Familiarize yourself with your computer and the course.
Learn the processes and steps you’ll need to do in order to navigate the class online.
- Make sure your computer has the basic requirements to access online resources, assignments, and materials.
- Start the class by spending some time just logging in to the portal. Figure out what the different buttons are for.
- You will be communicating with classmates and your teacher through email and a discussion board. Practice or sharpen your skills in writing clearly and reading text on a computer screen.
Manage your time wisely.
Taking courses online presents a time management challenge.
- Create a schedule that gives you some flexibility and isn't overwhelming.
- Find out how many hours a week your online class will require, and plan those hours into your daily calendar. Set and stick with specific days or times to read, complete written assignments, and post dialogue to other students.
- Log in every day to read messages from your classmates and instructor, or at least 5-6 days a week. If too many days pass before you log on to your course discussion group, you will get behind and it will be hard to catch up.
Seek the support of others.
You’re working alone, so whatever you can do to avoid feeling isolated is extremely important.
- If you are having trouble with course content, course procedure, or evaluation, you MUST tell this to your professor, otherwise he or she won’t know you need support.
- Your professor cannot see you, so your written comments and questions must be clear.
- Make connections with fellow students. Being part of a community of learners is always helpful, for courses you take online as well as in a classroom. Take full advantage of online conferencing. Whether you are working alone, or in a group, contribute your ideas, perspective and comments on the subject you are studying, and read about those of your classmates. Your instructor is not the only source of information in your course—your peers can deepen your understanding, and they can learn from you too.
- If you don’t understand something, others probably feel the same. You and fellow students can often help each other out.
- Post thoughtful comments and questions to other students’ postings. Studies show that students who plan interaction with classmates into their overall course schedule are most successful in online courses.
- Make a point of interacting with a range of students, not just one or two.
Be courteous and respectful.
Even though no one sees you, keep in mind that you’re still “talking” with real people with feelings and sensitivities.
- Take your time thinking through your responses on discussion boards.
- Think before you push the Send button. In order for the online interaction to be productive, it must be positive and supportive. Did you say just what you meant? How will the person on the other end read the words?
- Read over what you've written before you send it.
Be mindful about how you conduct your studies.
Think through your decisions about your work habits.
- Make sure you have a quiet place that is yours where you can work. If you can, use a room that you don’t have to share with others, or use for other purposes like eating or sleeping.
- Minimize distractions. Forward your phone to voicemail and turn off e-mail reminders.
- Repeat units that you don't get the first time. Especially for mathematics courses, try hard to solve problems independently before you ask for help.
- Take time to review all the help files available. Make hand-written notes about the online material and review those.
- Read all materials carefully and thoroughly several times. You will need to rely heavily on reading, because you won’t have the verbal and non-verbal input you have in face-to-face classrooms. Your instructor will be a guide for your own explorations. Multiple, line-by-line reading are among the keys to understanding.
- Use what you learn right away. Apply everything you learn as you learn it and you will remember it better. If you can, use new concepts and information at work, or with fellow students in discussions, the day after you learn them.
- Apply new material to what you already know, to experiences you’ve had in your life in settings such as work or at home.
- Use your questions as part of your learning. Asking questions allows you to go deeper into the material, which means you’ll learn it better. Use the communication tools such as threaded discussions, e-mail connectivity, and live chat to ask critical-thinking, open-ended questions. Spend time researching and writing these questions before you post them.
- Download or print out pages for reference and review away from the computer.
When you’re not meeting in person with other students or a teacher, some students can lose their interest or become ”burned out.”
- Envision yourself on graduation day, receiving your diploma before your friends and family.
- Work for good grades, that will energize you to keep working at your highest level.
- Compare notes with classmates and congratulate each other on successes.
- Reward yourself with a treat or special activity, a purchase or outing, when you work hard and it pays off with success.
- Don't give up. Certain classes can be very, very demanding, especially when you are alone.Stick with your work and it will get easier.
- Be patient. Arrange a schedule of break points in your study, and come back to the exact point when your question is answered. Be patient with yourself as well; give the material a chance to soak in.
Don’t plagiarize or cheat.
These are ethical violations that are serious in academic communities.
- You may face repercussions including failure of the class or even disciplinary action.
- Specific policies regarding such actions are spelled out in the Student Handbook (PDF).
- Call or stop by the Academic Center for Excellence, or ACE, Old Gym Room 205, 718-960-8175, to find out about workshops on how to cite sources correctly.