Taking Your First Online Class? A Professor Shares How to Succeed | My Education Blog

Even if you do much of your work online and socialize online, there may be challenges when it comes to online learning. If it’s your first online class, you’re not only facing a learning curve about the subject matter, but what it takes to do your best in an online classroom.

Dr. Diane Hamilton, author of “The Online Student’s User Manual” who teaches online courses for six universities, shares some of her tips for being a successful online college student.

Q: What technology skills should students gain before starting an online course?

A: They have to know how to upload files and how to understand the classroom and how it’s laid out (online). They’re not just opening the door and walking in. Sometimes there’s four of five different areas where they have to look for information (such as homework assignments).

Q: What can older learners who may not be as tech-savvy do to prepare?

A: I have a lot of sympathy for the older learner. There are a lot of tutorials online that are free. I have links that I always put in my classrooms, such as how to set up papers, how to set up a PowerPoint. They don’t have a good idea of how to set up documents.

Q: What are the biggest mistakes online students should avoid?

A: There’s a lot of buzz terminology that they need to know about so they don’t get into class and become overwhelmed by the terminology (words like “search engine” or “rubric”). Use basic “netiquette,” with the proper way of speaking to one another and being respectful. You can’t type in all caps because that means you’re yelling. Also, texting has been the way people communicate, but this is a formal environment and you need to write in complete sentences. Students are sometimes not using capitalization and they’re doing other things like they’re texting (instead of) being in the formal classroom.

Q: What’s an online tool for communicating with professors and peers that students should use?

A: Some of the schools set up a chat room (for the course), which is a really good thing. I also set up my own if the school doesn’t set up one. It’s like standing in the hallway talking. The bachelor students want to talk in the chat rooms, but tend to be more shy in terms of talking to the professor. I will post kind of funny YouTube things to lighten the mood to get people posting and talking to each other and to make me more approachable and make them realize I’m not a scary person. I have a Facebook page for my online students. I also have a blog. I have Twitter. I tell all my students, this is how you reach me on all those different areas.

Q: How does online learning appeal to different personalities?

A: I think that a lot of introverts really find online learning appealing for the fact that an introvert tends to think internally before speaking. They can take time to process their information and backspace and retype. With an extrovert, it’s appealing in another way. Sometimes they say, “I wish I hadn’t said that.” They have a chance to delete before posting it.

-Lori Johnston

This blog article, was written by Lori Johnston, and can be found by clicking here