Center for Student Success
Are you considering taking an online course? Are you unsure what to expect? An online course is different from the typical college course. Below you will find some information that might be helpful as you are considering an online course as an option.
US News and World Report posted an article, 8 Big Mistakes that Online Students Make on March 25, 2010.
Some Points to Consider Before Registering for an Online Course
- Online courses tend to take up more time than an actual in-class course. Typically, successful students report spending more time, not less, in an online course.
- An online course may be more difficult if you don't have a computer and web access at home. However, on-campus computing labs are available to students for an online course.
- Good writing skills are very helpful in an online course. Nearly all communication is written, so it is critical that you feel comfortable expressing yourself in writing. Students must also be proficient in reading and following written directions to complete complex tasks.
- Time management is a struggle for all students, but time management is one of the most important aspects of success in an online class. Most (but, not all) online classes do not require a set time or day for class, but successful students create their own schedule for an online class, balancing existing commitments, such as work and family.
- Motivation and self-discipline are key factors necessary in an online learning environment. With increased freedom and flexibility, students must take responsibility for their learning; by finding ways to motivate themselves; work independently and without direct supervision; utilize good time management skills; and maintain a good work ethic throughout the semester and complete all work on time.
- Some online courses at UMSL require in-class work and/or trips to campus during the semester. Everything may not be online. But, some online courses have the flexibility to be done at any time of the day or night. Some online courses require that all students in the class be online on specific days and at a specific time. Make sure you read the details in MyView for the online course you are considering.
- Online courses at UMSL are not self-paced. Courses start and end based on the University's calendar for the semester. Instructors expect students to adhere to due dates for assignments, quizzes, tests, etc.
- Students who work full-time or have a rotating work schedule may find that an online class is ideal. For most (but, not all) online courses, students may work the class around their schedule.
- Most online courses do not require a commute, which can save time and gas money. You no longer need to be in a particular classroom to take a class. Some students prefer indirect contact from instructors and minimal direct contact with other students in the class.
- Some students do not like participating in live class discussions. For many students, the online environment can be less intimidating. You can take all of the time you need to think your ideas through and compose a response before posting your comments to your class.
Before the Semester Begins and During the Semester
- Plan Ahead
Make sure that you have read the course description and reviewed online course information that may be available on the department's web site. The following UMSL departments have specific information on their web sites regarding their online courses.
- Things to do before the semester begins:
Set up your MyGateway ID - go to http://mygateway.umsl.edu to find your sign-on ID. You will find your online course syllabus in MyGateway no later than the first day of class.
Activate your UMSL email account on your MyGateway account.
- Campus Resources that may be helpful:
Location and Hours for the Computing Labs,
Technology Support Center can provide assistance with SSO I.D., "MyGateway, Student Mail, Student Technology Guide, Wimba support, etc.
- Create Some Personal Space
Your desk in your home, apartment or campus residential hall room serves as the classroom for an online class. A private, personal space gives you a place where you can shut the door, study, and work in a peaceful, focused manner.
- Study Schedule
Create a schedule for your online course and stick to it! Schedule specific time when you will read the text, when you will read the posts, when you post and when you will collaborate with other students in the class. Doing so, will help you stay organized and help to ensure that you are successful in an online course. Your success in an online course depends on your time management skills.
- Put In the Time
Plan on spending 5-10 hours per week for each online course.
- Logon Frequently
Plan to logon to your online course each day using MyGateway. Logging on is often the only way to find out what is happening in the course and to stay informed of any last-minute changes. If you ignore this step to success, you will fall behind.
Online classes require participation in online class activities, such as posts, discussion boards, emails, blogs, faxes. Communication with your instructor and peers provides great insight into the subject you are studying. You learn by communicating, reading, and applying the content.
- Be Polite and Respectful (Netiquette)
Abide by the Golden Rule and treat others how you would want to be treated. Be polite and respectful towards others, as you would in a traditional course. Read The Core Rules of Netiquette, excerpted from the book, Netiquette by Virginia Shea,
Use standard rules of English and use complete sentences. Never use profanity and be careful when using humor or sarcasm. Be respectful and use good judgment. Don't use ALL CAPS (shouting).
- Speak Up
Don't be shy about asking technical questions that relate to the class, especially if this is your first time taking an online course. Many people are confused by new technology at first and your instructor will expect these kinds of questions. The only way that the professor will know that you are having problems is if you discuss those problems with him/her. Speak up! Other students may be also having the same difficulties; speaking up will enable your professor to clarify the problems not only for you, but for the other students as well.
Some of the information above is adapted from Goucher College, Tips for Succeeding in an Online Course, http://www.goucher.edu/x32152.xml