Students face numerous instructor styles, pedagogies, and formats for courses. Classes may be in person, hybrid, or fully online. Your instructor is responsible for organizing and presenting information you need to meet the course outcomes for your degree. YOU – the student – are responsible for how you use your time and access needed resources to succeed in your classes.
These tips are useful also for in-person and hybrid courses, but especially important for fully online courses in which you will not personally meet and sit in the same space with your instructor and other students.
Online Course Tips
Online courses can be really great learning options: flexible schedule, no in-person time, resources available online, etc. These same perks can also be difficulties, such as trying to get immediate help, dealing with last-minute issues, bridging the distance communication gaps, getting/accessing all the tools at home if you don’t access a campus, etc.
- Synchronous means that you attend online, in specifically set times for all astudents and the instructor to show up at the same time.
- Asynchronous means that you attend online, but on your own schedule – you might share an occasional online office meeting with your instructor, but you don’t have to ‘show up’ to a set time and date for classes.
The key thing to remember is that YOU have a huge amount of responsibility for your progress and success in your classes – online or not. IT’S UP TO YOU!!! The instructor provides you with information, discussion, feedback, and information resources, but you have to control your time, computing resources, communications, and workload.
STUDENT (you): Time, focus, organization of your work and computing resources. Investing yourself in learning the subject matter. Getting all the tools you need, and finding/accessing all your computing resources. Doing your own research and digging on basic content in the book and class website. Asking any and all questions of the people (defined below) you need after doing your own due diligence. Getting correct versions of programs for home.
INSTRUCTOR: Class content (class information, how-to, demos, book choice, lectures, assignments/grading). Course content Q&A. Responding to class content-related questions and needs.
TECH SUPPORT: NON-class content and computer-related questions, like logging in, changing passwords, your computer problems, download problems, email accounts, CANVAS technical issues, etc. You will usually need to use College resources and/or do your own research/Googling for this information and support.
TUTORS: Content assistance only, depending on who is available, what they know, and the resources/tools they have to walk you through things.
Class PREP Time: This is a hidden time cost students do not think about. Before your FIRST week of class, you should allocate several hours to get and organize your resources, your class/study calendars, etc. You need to get any computer program downloads and installations done ASAP, make sure you have any headphones, USB Flash drive storage, study locations and open times plotted out, and be ready on Day 1 of Week 1 to do work.
Class Time: In-person classes usually have 2 weekly hours of homework for each 1 in-person hour. In an online class, you may have only an hour or so of recordings/demo presentations online in a given week (s your instructor doesn’t overwhelm you), but you will have to spend as much time as you need going through any assigned book, doing the book exercises for practice, looking at additional resource links / video tutorials (I provide many), and then doing the actual assignments for grading/assessment.
BEFORE a course/quarter begins:
- Install ALL necessary current version software on your home computer in preparation for the online classroom(s). This includes the current versions whatever computer programs you will study, and getting access an online space for backing up your work online. Consider email, word processing, online meetings, etc.
- Get ALL necessary tools, like headphones, USB Flash Drive, online storage space, a free ZOOM account, etc.
- Sign into the instructor’s online classroom (like CANVAS) so that you can read the introduction information and Syllabus, see the ;ectures and assignments, etc.
- Get any required course materials immediately, like your textbook(s) and other required items.
- Make sure you are prepared in every way possible before the “official” start of the course, including with any questions and concerns.
Strategies for Student Success
- Check your specific course’s online classroom website (like CANVAS) daily for announcements. For instance, I do not make many, but they will appear if issues you need to know about come up, usually on the home page of the class.
- Check the online CANVAS classroom, CANVAS inbox, and your student e-mail/inbox daily.
- Start your work immediately at the beginning of the quarter. Completing work on a regular, routine basis will allow you to get done on time or even early. MY courses requires computer work, and does not allow the luxury of getting behind. I recommend that you work on your L.J. Bothell classes at least an hour every day.
- Read the assigned chapters and complete the assignments as scheduled. The assignment schedule indicates which assignments are due and when. Work on your assignments daily. Many of the assignments are not difficult but they do require adequate time to complete them.
- Read the assignment text explanation before you work on the assignments. This is to get the context of what you need to know/accomplish.
- Contact your instructor about Class Content when needed, using the Inbox in your course’s online class website (like CANVAS).
- Use the available Discussion Board for questions so that your instructor and classmates can respond. Be mindful and respectful of the ideas and communication abilities of others. When you post replies to the Discussion Board, remember that you are responding to one of your classmates and that all of them can read your comments.
- DO NOT WAIT until the night before the assignment is due to ask your questions. Student procrastination is not the instructor’s problem or emergency. NOPE!!
- Double-check your work: Your work should be neat, file-named as requested, proofread, and fully corrected when you submit it.
- Always backup your computer work. ALWAYS. You are responsible for having multiple copies of any work you do for a class, such as on a USB flash drive, and OneDrive, and on your computer.
- Technical Issues: Contact your college’s Tech Department for Technical (computer, software) help when needed. If you have computer difficulties, have an emergency plan so that you don’t get behind, like another computer source, backup files, etc.
- If you have trouble with your online classroom application – like CANVAS – you should check the learning management system’s Student Guide to troubleshoot.
This sounds like a lot, and kind of scary, but it’s really not. You are more on your own with an online class, so be prepared to have the time it takes to solve problems as they come up. The better you prepare before the course starts, the much easier your quarter and learning will be!
Recommended Skills for Students
I highly recommend several basic skills for you to be ready for a matriculating online course (like graded Business Technology courses for a certificate/degree). If you do NOT have these competencies, you will likely have significant troubles taking online corses since they are self-motivated and online only. These include:
- Ability to keyboard (type), 20-30wpm is good.
- Prior computer experience with 2016-2019 versions of MS Word and MS Windows 8/10.
- Some experience using the Internet (email, web pages, search engines, browsers, etc.)
- A minimum level of computer competency – files and directories organization, using a calendar, finding documents, copy/paste functions in a word processor, etc.
Please review this Self-Questionnaire to see if you have the entry-level computer skills to succeed in an online eLearning course:
- I can work independently and without prompting. I understand that online courses requires a lot of reading/workbook exercises instead of in-person course lectures.
- I know how to connect to the World Wide Web/Internet using a Web browser.
- I can navigate around the Web and know how to use search engines like Google and Bing.
- I know how to send and receive e-mail using the e-mail system of my choice, like Gmail, Yahoo, etc.
- I understand basic email communication etiquette: visit Netiquette for tips.
- I know how to do basic word processing, including cutting and pasting of text with programs as recent as Microsoft 2016-19 or a free variation.
- I know how to find, open, save, rename, move, and manage computer files using a computer file management utility like File Explorer.
- I have access to a computer with the required Course programs and Internet 5-7 days per week – at home, at a library or community center, at the College library/computer center, etc.
- I have access to email communications 7 days per week (even if by smartphone).
You have several tools you will usually need to use in online courses like the ones I teach. You are responsible for getting / accessing them. The tools, dependent on the course specifics, include:
- An Internet Browser (like Google Chrome or Opera).
- A course online classroom LMS website (which the instructor will inform you about).
- Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus/2019 equivalent or 2019 versions:
- A specific course may need Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Publisher, Outlook, MS Teams, Visio, etc.
- USB Flash Drive for home back-up storage of your coursework.
- Google Drive, or MS OneDrive, or other online web storage application for online storage of your coursework.
- Adobe Acrobat Reader to view PDF documents.
- A file ZIP tool, like the free 7-Zip, for collecting and zipping multiple files for assignment uploads.
- Computer speakers and/or headphones for online meetings on ZOOM or MS Teams.
- Online conferencing tool installation (like ZOOM) for meeting online with the instructor / other students.
- Ability/plugin(s) to view and hear (or read captioning of) videos from YouTube, Panopto, etc., as needed in specific courses.
- Back-up computer options/locations if you do not have a computer and required software tools at home: your College library, College computer labs, local public libraries, local community centers, local service centers, etc.
Technology Privacy/Accessibility Information
It can be useful to know the privacy policies and accessibility statements of various common programs/tools that instructors like me use in our courses.
- 7-Zip Privacy /Accessibility Policy