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Clackamas Community College Blog
5 Tips for Succeeding in Online Classes
Not every college student has experience taking online classes. In fact, many students have only taken traditional, in-person classes where the learning environment differs from a virtual classroom.
If you haven't taken an online class, you may be asking questions like What does it take to be a successful online student? Should I approach an online class differently than a traditional class? How do online classes work?
Online classes come with benefits — like flexibility and independence in pursuing your degree and career goals — but it takes some extra steps to ensure success. Let's look at some tips to help you proactively prepare for online classes.
1. Familiarize yourself with your college's learning management system (LMS)
Most colleges provide a training course or tutorial of their learning management system, whether they use Moodle, Canvas, Blackboard, Brightspace (D2L) or another platform. Don't just quickly zip through the materials. Slow down and take notes to make sure you know what the top features are that will allow you to succeed.
For example, take note of where to access and submit assignments, how to participate in class discussions and what technical requirements or software you'll need.
- Visit your college's online learning landing pages for links, resources and FAQs.
- Sign up for any trainings or tutorials your college offers.
- Become very familiar with both your student and learning management system portals.
- Look for support centers, videos and tutorials offered directly by the learning management system your college uses. For example, Moodle provides a comprehensive knowledge base.
Resources for CCC students:
2. Understand your resources and meet your needs
Connect with your instructor early on if you need any reasonable academic accommodations in an online class. If you have a documented disability, leverage your college's disability resource center. Together, each party can foster a welcoming and accessible learning environment.
Spend time learning not only about your college's support resources but also services available to online students.
- Remember that you're not alone! Take advantage of online tutoring options.
- If you don't have a computer or reliable internet access, see if your college offers a laptop loan program. You can also use leftover financial aid funds to purchase a computer or laptop.
Resources for CCC students:
3. Build time management and organization skills
Optimizing your time takes practice. This is also true when it comes to tuning out homelife distractions and noises. Achieving both are easier said than done — but start by listing distractions as well as all the important things you need to track. Next, tackle each one-by-one to eliminate or minimize them.
Some students turn to apps to help them organize and manage their time. There are plenty out there to help you get started from paid to free tools.
- Build a comfortable study space.
- Set small, bite-sized daily and weekly goals for yourself.
- Explore apps that can assist you from time management to organization to blocking social media distractions.
4. Participate and ask questions
With independence comes greater responsibility. Some students learn by remaining mostly silent and paying close attention. Others need to ask questions. No matter what works best for you, simply advocate for your learning needs. Participate in every opportunity your online instructor offers – whether that's a Q&A forum, structured class discussions or supplemental resources.
- Get creative and connect with your peers on social networks and/or create virtual study groups.
- Never hesitate to seek help when needed. Contact your instructor early and often.
5. Understand your learning style(s) and where you struggle
It's important to know how you gather, process and apply new knowledge.
Some students learn best with words. Others learn best visually or socially. So while it's important to understand the ways you learn best, take a novel approach by looking at the ways you struggle to learn in an effort to close the gap.
For example, if your online course is text-heavy and you're struggling to learn only through the written word — leverage guides like Harvard's Reading Habits to Develop.
You're NOT alone
Remember that you're not alone and you can get assistance any time. Online courses can be challenging the first time you try them — but you'll become more confident as you learn how things work. Do your best to commit to online learning and the tips listed above.