Distance - Preparing for a Distance Learning Course
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»»»»»»»»Preparing for a Distance Learning Course

Successful Online Learner Skills

Online learning is very different from traditional classroom learning. Online courses are conducted via the Internet. Coursework will take place online and accessible 24 hours a day 7 days a week either at home, at school, or wherever you have access to a computer.

Without class lectures to spur that quick burst of activity to complete the project or to brush up for the test, some students procrastinate through weeks of the semester, only to find themselves so far behind that they could never catch up. It is recommend that you work out your typical weekly schedule - on paper - so that you will have a general guide for scheduling periods of time to study and to complete your course assignments.

Online learning requires you to be self-directed, self-motivated and self-disciplined to keep up with your course commitments. The following guidelines will help you succeed in your online classes.

Internet Connection

  • Be prepared to have the minimum computer hardware and software requirements to access your course online. View the Minimum Computer and Hardware Requirements online at
    ITS Microcomputer Recommendations.

  • At a minimum, you will need a word processing and an email software application as well as a Web browser. View the ITS Recommended Software applications online.

  • Internet Service Providers (ISP) offer a variety of services to connect your personal computer to the Internet. ISPs range from high-speed connections to dial-up modems. Refer to the local phone book for an Internet Service Provider to meet your needs or search online, using a search engine for contact information and cost.

  • Be sure to check with your instructor for any additional computer hardware and software requirements needed for the course.

  • It is strongly recommended that you install an anti-virus software application to protect your computer files.



You’ll need to ask for help as soon as possible if you are having difficulties with the technology or understanding the course material.

Online learning relies on email, discussion boards, and chat messaging to communicate. You need to feel comfortable expressing yourself in writing to be able contribute to your course assignments and communicate with your instructor and other students.


Online Etiquette

What is Online Etiquette or Netiquette?
Online Etiquette or Network Etiquette is the practice of courtesy and respect online between you and your instructor and peers. For many of us, taking an online course is a new experience. Think before you push the “Send” or “Return” key. Ask yourself, “did you say just what you meant?”. How will the other person on the other end read your words? While you can’t anticipate all reactions, remember to read over what you’ve written before you send it.

“Flaming” or flying off the handle and ranting at someone is unacceptable. If you have concerns about something that has been said, please let your instructor know.

Participate and share your thoughts and solutions with other students in your class. Remember there are no dumb questions and even if you think your solution is obvious, please share it by posting it on the Bulletin or Discussion Board or through another online communication tool.



Taking tests is as much a part of the online classroom as an on-campus classroom. Ask your instructor about the following:

  • Are exams/quizzes administered online or on-campus?
  • What are the dates and access periods?
  • How much time do you have to take the exam?

Online tests are delivered in a variety of ways using various types of software. WebCT is a common online testing tool, but be sure to check with your instructor about testing procedures and become familiar with completing tests in a timely and appropriate manner. Find out where and when your instructor has scheduled quizzes and exams.


Time Management Skills

Your online classroom is 24 hours a day 7 days of the week. Access to your course is possible wherever you have access to the Internet. Time management and organization are keys to success. These practices will help you stay on track and meet your course deadlines




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