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Are Online Classes Right for You?

You should be confident about your computer and study skills. Review the following list of requirements to assess your readiness to take online classes.

  • I know how to connect to the Internet using a browser.
  • I can navigate around the Internet and know how to use search engines.
  • I know how to send and receive e-mail.
  • I know how to do basic word processing, including cutting and pasting.
  • I know how to open, save, and manage files.
  • I have access to a computer with an internet connection at least 3 days a week.
  • The computer I will use meets the Basic System Requirements listed below.
  • I have 6-9 hours a week to work on each online class.
  • I am motivated to log in to the virtual classroom at least 3 days a week.
  • I am a self-starter and can manage my course workload efficiently.
  • I have good reading comprehension and written communication skills.
  • I am able to ask for help when I need it.

If you can't answer "Yes" to all these questions, you may not be quite ready for online learning. Take our Distance Education Online Learning Assessment to learn more about whether online learning is for you.

How to Succeed in the Online Environment

Succeeding in an online course requires many of the same healthy habits as a traditional course. However, there are some differences in an online environment that can surprise many students.

Software: Have the software tools needed to complete your assignments. Microsoft Office, for example, allows you to write papers and create presentations in widely used formats. Select tools that will allow your instructor to easily access your work.

Netiquette: Just as in an on-campus classroom, there is appropriate conduct for an online classroom. For example, using all capital letters in an email is like shouting.

Professional Writing: Save the abbreviations for texting. Expressing yourself effectively in an online course requires formal communication. So much of your knowledge will be demonstrated through your writing skills. Carefully review and proof your work before hitting submit.

Plan: It is easier to keep up than it is to catch up. Make a realistic appraisal of how much time you will need throughout the week to achieve your academic goals.

Login Throughout The Week: Online courses generally require ongoing contributions throughout the week. Make sure you login to your course and complete meaningful work.

Review All Course Materials: A common mistake is for students to jump quickly to assignments and overlook critical guidance posted by an instructor. Review the scoring rubrics and other information that will be used to evaluate your work before you complete any assignments.

Utilize Resources: Wharton County Junior College provides resources such as SmarThinking Online Tutoring Services, libraries and Learning Resource Labs to help you earn the grades you seek on assignments.

Push Notifications:  The Brightspace Pulse Mobile App allow you to configure your courses to receive "push notifications" to your cell phone or other mobile device. Use them to keep up even if you're not at your computer.

Scholarly Resources: Oftentimes, students don't take full advantage of materials available through the college’s library. Soon after you are admitted, and even before taking your first course, access the college’s online library resources and familiarize yourself.

Provide Feedback: Each semester, students are invited to complete an end of course survey. The college takes your feedback seriously and will use it to improve teaching, curriculum, and online experience.

Elevate Discussions: Elevate your discussion with peers by providing a personal example; asking an intriguing question; providing an outside resource; linking the ideas of two or more peers; noting patterns among responses between peers; or offering a contrasting view.

Create Work In Another Document: To save yourself potential frustration, create your work in a separate document. Cut-and-paste it into the course shell when you are ready. This also provides a back-up copy.

Work Space: Identify and claim a specific location where you can do your online work. A reliable Internet connection, electrical outlet and perhaps a printer will be critical to your success. Help others understand that this is your "school space" and should be used only by you as you complete your courses.

Train Your Friends and Family: Create a culture that reinforces your academic success. This often means making friends and family understand that you are not available, even though you may be in close proximity.

Block Out Time: Build your own start and stop times throughout the week. Create a time specifically dedicated to your online course.

A final point to remember: Online courses offer greater flexibility but they also require the student to dedicate the same time and energy as a traditional classroom course.

(Used and adapted from “Tips for Success in an Online Learning Environment” – Ashford University)

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