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Five success tips for online learning

Updated on November 30, 2012

According to Bill Gates, the best education in five years will be on the Internet, so now's the time to get a head start on knowing some success tips for online learning. Chances are, that if you attend university or college, you have already taken an e-course or two. It won't be too long until your entire program will be delivered in an online format.

Right equipment

Be sure you have the right equipment. You'll need a lap top with wireless capabilities. Whether you're logging in at the college or in a cafe, the beauty of online learning is that you can do it anywhere, any time. Be sure, too, your laptop has both a lot of RAM and a high-speed chip to acommodate multi-media. Although most higher education courses are text-based, increasingly, online learning is incorporating multimedia tools such as webinars and audio and video conferencing. So, be sure your computer can handle the requirements. When I took my masters degree online (part-time), I found my brand new desktop was almost obsolete three years after I bought it and bought a new laptop in the final year of the program.

Adjust your study habits

Understand that you will doing more work in an online course than in a classroom course. You will need to shift your learning strategy to a more proactive, self-directed mode. In the classroom, the instructor can deliver some of the information and create group activities, so you learn onsite. But, in the electronic classroom, you're on your own. It is less structured. You'll have to become your own teacher to some extent. You'll have to make sure you follow the course guidelines on the web, participate in forums, do assignments without an instructor cracking the whip or your best buddy sitting by. Many students in their first online course quickly fall behind because it is easy to put off the tasks in an online course. The course is just sitting there on the computer isn't it? It's easy to think the learning will "somehow" just happen.

Manage your time

You will have to be vigilant with your time and ensure you participate in all the activities regularly. A good strategy is to schedule set times to work on your online course as you would going to a classroom course. When I did my graduate studies, it was difficult to participate in the course every day. My teaching schedule was heavy for the first three days of the week. But for the rest of the week, I was able to participate without a problem. That's the beauty of online learning.You can schedule it around your own time table. But watch out for the temptation to put the online course at the bottum of your priority list, since it is not immediate and "in your face".

Practice netiquette

Understand that you're in an academic environment. When you're participating in an online discussion (you will find them to be quite common in your e-courses), be sure that the level of language you use is a little more formal than in the chat room. Avoid chat room lingo and acronyms. Your professors and classmates will appreciate it.


Communication bridges the isolation gap that sometimes occurs in an online course. You have many opportunities to create different interactions. Don't be shy to send an email to your professor or tutor if you have a specific question. When I teach an online course, I usually hear from everyone in the class at some point. And I always answer student questions. That's what we're here for.

Dialoguing privately with the professor or tutor will enhance your learning. Be sure also to respond to your fellow students in the discussion forums. That's where the real learning occurs. You will find that your our fellow classmates also become your teachers and you become theirs as all course members share their observations, resources and experiences. Experts call this constructivist learning and it is a very powerful form of pedagogy. Also, many online course have a "cafe" forum for a more free discussion other than the structured academic discourses on the other forums. Your fellow students become your teachers and you become theirs.

Online learning is a rich learning experience, but requires some adapting initially. Following these suggestions will help you be succesful in the electronic classroom.

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Submit a Comment

  • Rhonda_M profile image

    Rhonda Malomet 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada


  • Haley Schaeffer profile image

    Haley Schaeffer 6 years ago from San Diego

    I love "netiquette"! That's a great word for it. While I have to admit that I use it quite a bit in daily texting, e-mails, etc., I do agree that it is inappropriate in an educational environment. Great Hub!

  • Rhonda_M profile image

    Rhonda Malomet 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    I quite agree, the ability to stay put is also necessary. That was the case when I did my grad degree. A good e-learning course should break up the tasks so students can do a bit at a time. Often I read my articles in transit, and posted to the forums at work.

  • taheruddin profile image

    taheruddin 6 years ago from Khulna Bangladesh

    All this 5 points are very important and undoubtedly first five. But should say it require a long sitting with your laptop or desktop and not sleep. Most of people first time start a video tutorial alone start feeling asleep. So, a learner should not be disappoint for that he is alone. ... nice hub

  • Rhonda_M profile image

    Rhonda Malomet 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    @ecamper indeed the onus is more on the student to be more disciplined and self-directed. Many an e-student drifts form the course because of the lack of human contact.

  • ecamper23 profile image

    ecamper23 6 years ago

    I know that learning online requires a lot of effort and motivation. It's not as easy because you don't have a classroom to walk to.

  • Rhonda_M profile image

    Rhonda Malomet 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    @cmellon86 It is easy to assume that most people have access to a good computer, and the internet, yet there are some who still don't. And there are even people who are using dial-up. At the ver least, a local library can be a starting point one doesn't have access!

  • cmellon86 profile image

    cmellon86 6 years ago

    For starters having functioning internet and a computer is the most important. And making sure you're adequately prepared and early for your online classes is a big help too.

  • mbaker2012 profile image

    mbaker2012 6 years ago

    Excellent hub! These are the basics that all online students should be prepared for!

  • bdouble28 profile image

    bdouble28 6 years ago

    Excellent tips and strategies not just for online learning, but succeeding in college in general.

  • Rhonda_M profile image

    Rhonda Malomet 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    Don't be afraid to reach out. The best students are the ones who ask, even if it is a trivial detail.

  • Rhonda_M profile image

    Rhonda Malomet 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    Don't be shy. I hear from all the students sooner or later in an online course, moreso than in a classroom course. An important part of the teaching (if the professor or tutor is really doing it right) is communicating with the students. So ask away!

  • Rhonda_M profile image

    Rhonda Malomet 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    Sorry, didn't notice your comment. But yes being proactive is tough. The onus is on the student. Don't be affraid to reach out or to respond to other people in the class. The idea is to create interaction to make up for the fact that you're not in a class. Still, it can be very isolating online at times!

  • marilnelanoon233 profile image

    marilnelanoon233 7 years ago

    This guide should be a must read for online learners. It's one of those things that will make or break your education.

  • Rhonda_M profile image

    Rhonda Malomet 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    A good instructor who is doing "online" right will be available and receptive to student queries. That's part of the teaching/learning process

  • polymathlv profile image

    polymathlv 7 years ago from USA

    These are all great points! For me, the most difficult part of e-learning is being proactive and reaching out to the instructor/other students if I need help.