Learn Online
Student Guide to Online Learning

Student Guide to Online Learning

Communication Tips

Communication in the online course is crucial to your academic success. Login to your online course(s) frequently to see if there are any new postings from your instructor or your classmates. You will communicate far more often with the instructor and other students through email, discussion forums, and chat rooms. If you have questions about the course, don’t wait, ask them! When you email your instructor or another student in the course, include the class and section number, communicate in a respectful manner with appropriate language and make sure to check your spelling. Online course communications can be more formal than than the kind of communication you have with your friends. Make sure to follow the example that your instructor provides.

As a participant in online discussions, make sure that you read posts carefully before you compose your response. The written word can be easily misconstrued, so make sure to provide enough detail in your response so that the meaning of your statement can be easily understood. Always make sure to use the spell checker before submitting your response.

Online Participation

Pay attention to due dates and participation guidelines for your online course. Get involved with online discussions, email, and chat. Participation in your online course is one of the primary ways that your instructor knows you and how you are doing in the course.

Learning Style

It is important to feel comfortable reading course content online as well as to feel comfortable with the technologies used to deliver the course content. If you are unable to play a video required in the course, for example, you will need to access technical support to get help. If an instructor requires that you access a variety of course materials, it is probably very important that you do so! If all else fails, use a computer on campus or in the Library to access required course content.

Stress Management

In order to avoid the stress that occurs when you have tests, papers and presentations due during the same period of time, it is important to plan ahead and do as much work as you can in advance. Even if you are not allowed to turn assignments in early, you can complete them early and then just move on to the next critical assignment. Busy time periods can be made less stressful if you prioritize the work that needs to be done and get adequate rest. Another important factor to consider, especially if you are taking an online course, is to remember Murphy’s Law, which states that if anything can go wrong, it will. Don’t wait until 5 minutes before an assignment is due on Blackboard (or Moodle) to turn it in! Invariably, everyone else in your class will be doing that same thing and this may mean that your paper will get counted as being turned in late.

Time Management

Another tip that will assist you as you organize yourself for online learning is to create a calendar that compiles the due dates for all assignments, tests, papers, presentations, etc, for ALL of your online and face to face classes. If you see all of the work that is due during the same time periods, you can begin to plan when and how you are going to get all of it done in time without having to do it all at the last minute. Break all of the big assignments down into manageable parts. Make a daily To Do list which addresses each of those assignment “parts”. If you get some of each assignment done every day, eventually it will be completed and will be ready to turn in on time. You have to be realistic as you plan your schedule – a ten page paper cannot be written in a short period of time. Give yourself time to write and edit your work before turning it in for a grade.

Another extremely important facet of time management is to avoid distractions. Turn off your phone and your instant messaging software while you are studying or writing. Take a short break every hour or so and catch up with people, but then turn the electronics off again when you need to get back to work. Becoming an effective manager of your time and effort will help you in all the aspects of your life and will be increasingly important when you begin your career. Increasing your time management skills will result in stress reduction and in an increase in productivity.

Equipment and Software Requirements

A faster connection speed via Broadband (Cable or DSL) will result in less frustration for online students. We do not recommend relying on WiFi on a mobile device or on a cellular Internet connection (e.g; Smartphone) as your primary means of accessing your online course. You are required to have a dependable connection to the Internet, preferably a wired connection.Have a backup plan for if your computer breaks down, or if the Internet connection fails. It is extremely important to try to have access to a computer with a wired internet connection when taking an online exam. Interruptions in internet connectivity can disrupt your testing attempt, so make sure to protect yourself from this happening.

Online Learning Readiness

Are you ready to take an online course? There are many learner characteristics that have been identified by researchers as important to academic success. Possessing good time management, organizational skills and study habits are a must in an online program. Being a self-motivated learner will help you to keep track of all your assignments and turn in assignments and papers in time for their deadlines. It will also be important to have a fair amount of technology skills in order to troubleshoot problems when they occur. Finally, you will need to have a relatively updated computer system and a very good internet connection in order to have a satisfactory experience with your online course. Make sure to find out whether or not there are specific computer, audio or video requirements in each of the online courses you sign up for.

Take the UMKC Online Readiness Tool. Upon completion of this web-based survey, you will receive a report that will help you to understand your strengths and opportunities for improvement as an online learner. This survey is for your benefit, so please take the time to read the questions thoroughly and answer them honestly.