Taking an online course can be daunting. Perhaps you are not great with computers. Maybe you have the great vanishing professor (who rarely shows up for class and takes forever to answer your frantic emails).
One thing is for sure: online classes take a great deal of personal discipline. Here are some tips for getting through them successfully.
First, set aside every day to check on your class. Yes, every day. This is because your instructor may publish an announcement that directly impacts the assignment you are doing. Perhaps the instructor has gotten a boatload of questions about something related to the assignment. Maybe the class has just been re-done and the Powers That Be are still working out the bugs. You need to be completely up-to-date with this.
Check the announcement page of your class page. Then check under “Ask the Professor” to see if someone else in the course has a question for which you might appreciate knowing the answer.
Next, look over the syllabus carefully and highlight on your calendar when all the Discussion Board postings are due (both the initial thread and the replies). How many classmates are you supposed to reply to? How long does your reply have to be? (Note: I have a student right now who has completely ignored the length requirements for discussion board postings and replies. As a result, she is failing that aspect of the course when she could be acing it.)
Special note: do not feel the need to reply to every classmate’s posting. That can drive your professor to distraction, since we get notified if there is a single posting…..now multiply that by the number of students in the class. If there are 25 students (this is pretty normal) and they are each required to post an original thread and two replies per topic, that is 75 postings for the instructor to respond to. If each student replies to 5 other students, the number goes up very quickly. Please, be kind!
Make sure that you look through the Content section of your class page, the assignments section, the discussion board, and any other section that your school has. Note all assignments and look over the instructions carefully. With my online writing classes, one assignment builds on the one before it. If you skip even one assignment, your whole grade is in jeopardy.
Be kind to your classmates as you reply to their postings. Do not say “great post” to someone who has done less than the bare minimum but do not be rude either. Telling him or her “wow, you really messed up, dude” will not help. Make suggestions if you wish to guide the other student, but make sure that you are not trying to take the class away from the professor.
Finally, set aside time to do the assignments. I once had an entire class of folks who waited until the night before an assignment was due to begin it. They would send frantic emails and messages for clarification in the middle of the night as they scurried to get things done. Guess what? I was asleep. By the time I saw their emails, the assignment was already late. I have been there, checking in every day, for the entire week, but not on Saturday night at 11 pm, Sunday at 1 am, or…..well, you get the idea.