Thinking of taking an online course but have no idea what to expect? Here is everything you need to know to survive your online learning experience! First tip: Don't plan for this to be a slack course. In some ways, it is more difficult than a traditional classroom. That said, online learning does come with several perks, the major being convenience and the ability to work from any place at any time!

How does it work? Every experience is different but a majority of online courses are facilitated through Blackboard or a similar site used by the university. All interactions are made virtually though discussion boards, typically pre-made by the professor. Similar to the classroom experience, each week is divided into different topics, with incorporated assignments, quizzes, etc. As soon as you receive the outline for the course:

  1. Create a calendar with due dates
  2. Read the requirements for participation
  3. Plan ahead and manage your time

Due dates can vary each week with set days and/or times so it is important to take note. Some professors allow students to submit everything at the end of each week, while others have several submissions throughout. We suggest adding the important dates to your calendar with alerts...and yes this sounds annoying but trust us, it will be your lifesaver as the course progresses.

Participation is key in any online learning course. Think of it as attendance and participation in a traditional classroom environment. Due to the nature of the course, it is the only way to let the professor know that you are active and following the lesson. Plan to contribute to discussion boards a few times a week and don't be scared to post first! Second tip: If you wait too long, the discussions can get overwhelming...think of it as if you left your phone for a minute, while your group chat is going off.

Quizzes and/or exams are typically taken through the online course system. Depending on the course, some professors may require an in-person session (this should be noted in the syllabus). Specific date(s) and time(s) are provided to allow for advanced planning in either scenario. Final projects (and in rare cases group projects) may be required in place of exams with mini deadlines throughout the semesters to ensure all students are on track. 

Online learning is all about organization and time management. There are several benefits (AKA not waking up for an 8AM and working from any location). However, it is up to the student to ensure all requirements are met. If you plan ahead and keep on top of your work, you will excel!

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