Distance Learning Training and Resources for Educators

Effective Online Learning – Student Module

Tips for Being a Successful Online Learner

Be Aware that Online Courses Force Students to Take More Responsibility for Their Education.


Be self-motivated and self-disciplined.

With the freedom and flexibility of the online environment comes responsibility.  The online process takes a real commitment and discipline to keep up with the flow of the online learning process. Active participation is a key element of success when taking online classes.

handskeyboardBe able to communicate through writing.

In the virtual classroom, nearly all communication is written, so it is critical that learners feel comfortable in expressing themselves in writing. This takes some practice, but the more you write the better you get at it.

Be open-minded about sharing life, work, and educational experiences as part of the learning process.

Introverts as well as extroverts find that online learning requires them to utilize their experiences.  This forum for communication eliminates the visual barriers that hinder some individuals in expressing themselves.  In addition, the learner is given time to reflect on the information before responding.

hourglassBe willing and able to commit to 5 to 8 hours per week per course.

Online is not easier than the traditional educational process.  In fact, many learners say it requires much more time and commitment.

Be willing to “speak up” if problems arise.

Many of the non-verbal communication mechanisms that instructors use in determining whether learners are having problems (confusion, frustration, boredom, absence, etc.) are not possible in the online environment.  If a learner is experiencing difficulty on any level (either with the technology or with the course content), s/he must communicate this immediately.  Otherwise the instructor will never know what is wrong.

modemlaptop1Have access to a computer and a modem. Duh! 🙂homeoffice1

The communication medium is a computer, phone line, cable and modem; the learner must have access to the necessary equipment to succeed in an online class.

Accept critical thinking and decision making as part of the learning process.

The learning process requires the learner to make decisions based on facts as well as experience.  Assimilating information and executing the right decisions requires critical thought.

Be able to think ideas through before responding. ideas

Meaningful and quality input into the virtual classroom is an essential part of the learning process.  Time is given to allow for the careful consideration of responses.  The testing and challenging of ideas is encouraged; you will not always be right, just be prepared to accept a challenge. Teachers do NOT want students regurgitating course material, lessons and posted lectures back at them.  We are looking for critical thinking and synthesizing that material into new ideas and thoughts based on that material.

High quality learning can take place without going to a traditional classroom.

The online learning process is normally accelerated and requires commitment on the learner’s part.  Staying up with the class and completing all work on time is vital.  Once a learner gets behind, it is very difficult to catch up.  Basically, the learner needs to want to be there, and needs to want the experience. It goes back to taking responsibility for your learning.

announcementMore Tips for Success…


Contribute your ideas, perspective, and comments on the subject you are studying, and read about those of your classmates.  Your instructor is not the only source of information in your course–you can gain great insight from your peers and they can learn from you as well.

Take the program and yourself seriously.

Elicit the support of your colleagues, family, and friends before you start out on your online adventure.  This built-in support system will help you tremendously since there will be times when you will have to sit at your computer for hours at a stretch in the evenings and on weekends.  When most people are through with work and want to relax is most likely when you will be bearing down on your course work.  It helps to surround yourself with people who understand and respect what you are trying to do.

student_computer1Make sure you have a private space where you can study.

This will help lend importance to what you are doing as well. Your own space where you can shut the door, leave papers laying around, and work in peace is necessary.  If you try to share study space with the dining room or bedroom, food or sleep might take priority over studying.

Log on to your course every single day.

….or a minimum of 3-5 days a week.  Once you get into the online system, you will be eager to see who has commented on your postings and read the feedback of your instructor and peers.  You will also be curious to see who has posted something new that you can comment on.  If you let too many days go by without logging on to your course discussion group, you will get behind and find it very difficult to catch up.

Be polite and respectful on the discussion board and whenever interacting with other students and/or instructor.

Just because you are anonymous, doesn’t mean you should let yourself go.  Remember, you are dealing with real people online.  Being polite and respectful is not only common sense, it is absolutely obligatory for a productive and supportive online environment.  In a positive online environment, you will feel valued by your instructor, valued by your classmates, and your own work will have greater value as well.

Apply what you learn.

If you are able to apply everything you learn as you learn it, you will remember it more readily.  If it is possible, take the things you learn in your online course today and use them in your workplace tomorrow.  Also, try to make connections between what you are learning and what you do or will do in your job.  Contributing advice or ideas about the real-world as it applies to the subject matter you are studying helps you to internalize what you are learning.

plagiarismDon’t Plagiarize!!!

College-level work should be thoughtful reflection and assessment of the published materials you have gathered for study, written in your own words… not merely a “cut and paste” of that material.

Reflection and summary represent critical thinking skills; “cut and paste” constitutes plagiarism. You must give credit where credit is due.



Now lets look discuss how to navigate Blackboard and the key components you as students need to know about it.


Announcement Page

Announcement Page




Blackboard Links to Assignments, Discussion Board, ect.

Blackboard Links to Assignments, Discussion Board, ect.


Be sure you familiarize yourself with the various links to your class.  Review your assignments, the Syllabus, Lectures, course materials and the discussion board. Every online instructor uses these links in different ways as far as what they expect from students. Some course like mine have weekly discussions where as others may assign homework essays through the picture-81assignment manager.

Be aware that these button names can be changed to whatever your instructor wants to call them.  Course Documents may be called Lectures or Modules and Staff Information may be the faculty members name or About Your Instructor.



Part II

Google Docs and Student E-Mail – Pre-Ah Hill DL Instructional Technologist


Accessing Student Email

Accessing Google Docs

Using GoogleDocs

Part III – Hands-On


Blackboard Navigation

Blackboard Interface

Assignment Manager

Discussion Board Tips (links and images)

More Tips for Effective Online Learning
What Makes a Successful Online Student

Additional Strategies for Successful Online Learning

Adapted from the Illinois Online Network (http://illinois.online.uillinois.edu)

Effective Online Learning Workshop Podcasts Part I


Comments on: "Effective Online Learning – Student Module" (34)

  1. […] Effective Online Learning – Student Module […]

  2. […] Grant – Podcasting|DL Alliance Presentation |Technology Committee|Effective Online Teaching BB|Effective Online Learning – Student Module|CCC Moodle […]

  3. Celia Liles said:

    Can I get extra help with this please? Are there extra tutoring classes or times?

  4. From someone who thought taking an online course will be easy. I have to say that the videos help me know, how much of a commitment this is and requires me to be more proactive and responsible.

  5. Hi there, nice site with good info. I really like coming back here often. There’s only one thing that annoys me and that is the misfunctioning of comment posting. I usually get to 500 error page, and have to do the post twice.

  6. kym cramer said:

    i enjoyed reading the previous pages. They seem to say it all, and I think if one follows these then they will surely survive the college experience

  7. This info was very helpfull and explained aloot of valuable tps to succed.

  8. […] important to provide training to our students to become better online learners so we developed our Successful Online Learning workshop that we offer to students at the beginning of each semester. Over 200 students have attended this […]

  9. […] When we move into online learning, we need to remember that we are introducing an additional level of stress into the lives of those who are new to distance learning: not only do they need to struggle with the specific technology they are attempting to learn, but they face the additional challenge of learning how to learn in ways that may not initially be comfortable for them. By making ourselves available before, during, and after the formal presentations of online learning opportunities, we demonstrate our commitment to our learners and to online learning and we offer, by example, the sort of support which is essential to successful learning. […]

  10. Jennifer Dye said:

    Hello everyone,
    I am a new parent and decided to go back to school to work on opening my own business some day. I did not realize that it would be this difficult to plan out a schedule at home to fit in all the hours and time I like most people figured it would be easier to do online classes but not so much and this video helped me understand that. I’ve realized how much time now is needed that I must dedicate and have the drive to continue to succeed in all of my courses.

  11. Kathy Farhangi (Kat) said:

    Sorry if I am not succeeding like I should, but I will get caught up. I am just under a great deal of stress. I like what I am learning and I will succeed in this class one way or another.

  12. I found your discusion very informitive and explaned the basic sence you must have to comunicate and use power of the computer to navigate each course I take or take the time and investigate what is needed to suceed.

  13. Sylvia Parrish said:

    I think the online is easy since I have taken some courses online. Is is easier for me since I have difficulty learning in a crowed enviroment. I need space so this is good
    My problem was and still is the registration process, email password and the blackboard(only available after all things are done), aebadvisor password is different from gmail id
    what a PROBLEM

  14. Patrick M Bloodworth said:

    After listening to the presentation, I am impressed at how well one has to be prepared to undertake an online course.At age 64 the time constraints and time management skills require some persistance.In the end I am sure it will all be worth it.
    The freedom online learning affords the student is well worth the effort , if the student keeps in mind that with freedom comes responsibility.In this case, that responsibility translates as getting involved with discussions ,writing and group assignments and any other assigned work and seeing it is completed on time.
    It is also great to be able to communicate with the professors in the more one on one fashion,as things do happen in life to all of us. Being able to communicate this effectively to the professor teaching the course is very helpful in mastering the online class proceedure.

  15. Bobby A. Rigaud said:

    yes, it opens all of the needed resources that one needs to cultivate when taking online classes. It has helped me to focus and be expressive when posting. When I used to be homeless, I found that my focus was mixed and bewildering, yet, through constantly falling and getting back up again, it gave me the strength to want to succeed all the more. Life is what you put into it, not what I expected to get out of it. I have limited my thinking for a very long time and now that I have this guide for better assessing what I must do to be successful, I will endeavor to follow and look-up, when needed the valuable information within this course. Sincerely, Bernard

  16. Drew Nadeau said:

    This article has been very informative. I believe that I fully understand the commitment I’m making to my online education.

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  23. Laura Andrews said:

    Thank you for the helpful hints! Being a mother, having a full time career and being a student is a juggling act; your help is greatly appreciated!

  24. […] Effective Online Learning – Student Module | E-Learning … – When we move into online learning, we need to remember that we are introducing an additional level of stress into the lives of those who are new to distance learning …… […]

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