1. Set yourself up for success by realistically assessing your readiness and ability to do well in an online course format. The online classroom works very well for students who are highly self-motivated, have a working knowledge of the internet, and who are able to take responsibility for their own learning experience. However, the online classroom is not the best option for every student. NEWS FLASH: Online classes are NOT easier than traditional classroom courses. They generally require an equal amount, if not more time to complete readings and assignments in comparison with a traditional classroom course. Assess your readiness with the free TOOLS Assessmentoffered through Penn State.
2. Start with subjects that you are generally more comfortable with. For example, my weakness tends to be in the math and sciences….I’m totally liberal arts! I would be setting myself up for failure by taking a math class in an online format since this is a subject that I would likely benefit from the face-to-face interaction of a traditional classroom.
3. Own your success by scheduling and prioritizing regular blocks of time for working on course related tasks. Waiting until the last minute will do you no favors and your professor will surely be able to tell by the quality of your work.
4. Read the entire course syllabus on the first day of the term and be sure you understand and have the ability to adhere to all course policies and requirements. The syllabus is essentially a contract between the professor and the student and you are responsible for the information within. The “I didn’t know” argument won’t work. The syllabus is “the law”. And, the law always wins.
5. Establish a positive rapport with your professor straight away (that sounds so British!). Be cordial, yet professional at all times. Be considerate of your tone and always be respectful. Trust me…I automatically do NOT want to deal with a student who comes across as crabby, accusatory and/or disrespectful. But, I would likely go out of my way to help a student who is respectful and cordial.
6. ALWAYS use proper English when communicating in ALL educational and professional settings. This includes communication with your professor. The word “I” is always capitalized. There is never a time when it is not. Never. Seriously. Spell check is free and wants to be your BFF.
7. Cite your sources, cite your sources, cite your sources. Did I mention that you should cite your sources? Do this in all of your classes. However, you should pay particular attention to this detail in online courses. NEWS FLASH - If you can find it online, so can your professor. Most online educational platforms such as BlackBoard, Angel, WebCT, etc… have built in anti-plagiarism software. I like to call this “gotcha software” because it will indeed “getcha” if you decide to copy somebody else’s work while passing it off as your own. This rule applies for all assignments. You can double check your own work using a free ONLINE PLAGIARISM CHECKER.
8. Don’t skimp on the discussion board assignments. Profs take these fairly seriously because they take the place of traditional classroom “discussion”. Responses such as “I agree.” or “So true.” don’t count. Engage in a legitimate and relevant “discussion” for maximum points (it’s also good for your brain).
9. If you feel that you are struggling, contact your professor sooner rather than later. Your instructor can’t help you if they don’t know that you need help. Be proactive by utilizing tutorial services offered through the college and ask your professor for additional study suggestions.
10. Lastly, this is college & college level work is always an expectation. Just because you complete an assignment doesn’t mean you deserve an “A”. Grades are earned, not given. If you want an “A”, make the effort to earn it by submitting thoughtful, thorough assignments that are always on time.