Tips for Succeeding in Online Classes

I started teaching online courses ten years ago this spring, and I’ve completed graduate-level classes and other training online as well.  Based on my experience, I’ve assembled a list of tips to help students succeed in online classes:

  • log in and start working the first day
  • print out the syllabus, particularly the instructor’s contact information and the course schedule
  • get the textbook and start reading it before the class starts
  • do not call your instructor by his or her first name unless you are specifically invited to do so
  • check the e-mail account where you get messages from the instructor at least every other day
  • put the department, course number, and section number at the beginning of the subject line of every e-mail message you send to the instructor
  • include previous messages when you reply to an e-mail message
  • allow at least 24 hours (or whatever amount of time is stated in the syllabus) for your instructor to respond to e-mail or phone messages
  • follow instructions for assignments and exams carefully and exactly (If needed, make a checklist or print the instructions.)
  • reread the instructions and the syllabus before you e-mail the instructor to ask a question
  • submit all assignments and take all exams at least 24 hours before they are due
  • post more in the discussions than is required
  • read all of the instructor’s post in the discussion
  • read all announcements
  • double check your grammar and spelling before you submit any assignments or exams
  • remember that the policies, instructions, and deadlines apply to you and that you are responsible for knowing, following, and meeting them (You are not an exception unless you have been granted accommodations because of the Americans with Disabilities Act.)
  • treat your instructor and classmates respectfully

A lot of these tips can be applied to or adjusted for face-to-face and blended classes too.

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