A Student’s Guide to Taking Online Courses

Study Online. Online classes can offer you more flexibility than traditional universities. In addition to being more flexible with the times that you take the classes, it can allow you to attend a program that is not currently offered in the area that you are living. The learning process for an online course is different from attending traditional classes. You will still read books, listen to lectures and study the material, but your classroom participation grade will be different. You will not have a study group that you meet with in person and all of your assignments will be submitted online. It is important that you have good time management skills and that you are prepared for the different learning environment that an online course can offer you.

Make Sure Your Computer Meets the Course Requirements?

When you are taking online classes, your most important tool is your computer. You need a reliable computer and a way to access the Internet if you want to succeed at school. Each college should have a list of basic computer requirements you need to meet in order to attend class online. The extra money you spend on getting a reliable computer will pay off in the end. In addition to the Internet, your computer will need to be able to access the learning management program the college uses. Before you buy your computer check with the requirements through the program you want to attend.


Class participation is an important part of online learning. Although, you may not be able to raise your hand and ask questions during the lecture, you will still be expected to participate in a discussion with your classmates. You will likely need to create a new thread or comment on other students’ threads each week. Most teachers require a minimum number of thoughtful comments about each assignment. Communicating with your teacher when you have a question is also important. You can email your teacher or chat online during office hours. It is important to be an active participant if you want to receive a good grade.

Manage Your Time Wisely?

Just as when you attend traditional classes, you need to manage your time wisely when you attend online classes. In some cases, it may be even more difficult because you attend class online from home. You will need to set up a weekly schedule that gives you time to study and prepare for each class and to complete the assignments. You should ask family and friends to be respectful of the time that you need to complete the classes. You will need to schedule down time, in addition to study time, so that you do not burn yourself out. Many experts recommend studying two hours for each hour you are taking classes. This means for a three-credit class you will need to schedule the three hours class time and at least six more hours to study and complete assignments. Take the time to carefully review the study materials multiple times to make sure you understand everything. This will help you to be more successful. Often setting up a set study area can help you move into study mode and use your time more effectively.

Popular Learning Platforms

When you take a class online, you will use a learning platform. Three of the most popular are Moodle, BlackBoard and Aplia. Generally, a school will choose just one of the platforms for all of the online courses it offers. This can make it easier to navigate your classes because you will only be learning the one system. Moodle is one of the popular sites. It allows you to view posted class materials and participate in discussions with your teacher and other students. BlackBoard is another system similar to Moodle that allows users to access the course materials and engage in class discussions online. Aplia is a similar format, but it does charge you fees in addition to the fees charged by the colleges.

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