Tips for Online Learning:

Back to top

  • Share your life, work and educational experiences as part of your learning process.
  • Be able to communicate through writing.
  • Be self-motivated and self-disciplined. Online learning takes a real commitment and responsibility to keep up with the flow of the course.
  • Be willing to “speak up” if problems arise. If you experience difficulty with anything from understanding course assignments to technical difficulty be sure to contact the instructor or the Office of Distance Education.
  • Be willing and able to commit 10-12 hours a week per course. This is an average of the time required for an online course. Some courses may require more time. Online learning is not easier than learning in the classroom. In fact is usually considered more difficult.
  • Have access to a computer and a modem that meets the minimum requirements. Be able to use the technology properly.
  • Be able to work with others in completing projects.
  • You should enjoy communicating in writing.
  • Stay in touch with your instructor. For the DSU online courses this is done by email and by phone with a toll-free number.

Tips for Preparing for Assignments and Exams:

Back to top

  • Familiarize yourself with the course design. Read all of the course syllabus. Be able to meet the minimum standards as set froth by the instructor.
  • Identify the tools necessary to complete assignments and be able to complete assignments on time.
    Organize your assignments and course goals into a schedule. Set deadlines for yourself and stick to them.
  • Prepare for your assignments and tests. Read everything that is assigned to you. Designate a place of study that is comfortable for you.
  • Keep aware of your materials. Online courses have many different materials. Remember you are not watching or listening as you would in a traditional classroom. Take notes and be prepared for your assignments and exams.
  • When you are preparing your assignments be sure to save your documents on a regular basis.
  •  When you are sending your assignments by email, send a copy to yourself. If you receive the message with attachments then your instructor should also. Keep these copies until you are comfortable that you will not need to resubmit them to your instructor.

Tips for Time Management:

Back to top

Lets start with a self-assessment survey (adapted from Capella University focused seminar).

Please respond to the following questions indicating

  • I should do this
  • I could do this
  • I do this now
  • Does not apply to me
  1. plan your week
  2. use to-do lists
  3. prioritize items
  4. schedule quiet times (not to be interrupted)
  5. break long projects into parts (time periods)
  6. schedule time for doing smaller activities (such as returning calls) 
  7. keep your schedule flexible (allow for unexpected events)
  8. set a scheduled time and time limit for all visitors 
  9. ask others to see/call you only during your scheduled time and screen your calls 
  10. control your time rather than having others control it 
  11. keep your desk or work area clean 
  12.  rearrange work area for increased productivity 
  13. remove non-work related items from work area
  14. do one task at a time 
  15. combine or modify activities to save time 
  16. set clear objectives for yourself and others 
  17. delegate whenever possible 
  18. reduce socializing (when necessary) without causing offense 
  19. identify time wasters and work to minimize them 
  20. stay calm Of these positive time management skills, how many do you practice? Now check yourself on some of the pitfalls in managing time well
  21. allow interruptions 
  22. procrastinate
  23. saying “yes” when later you wish you had said “no” 
  24. avoid important tasks by spending time on less important ones
  25. tend to leave tasks unfinished 
  26. have difficulty living with unfinished tasks
  27. have too many projects going at once 
  28. try to please others at one’s own expense 
  29. lose concentration by thinking of what must be done next

Review your self-assessment. Do you see where you can make improvements? Do you have some bad habits you should stop? You are now on your way to developing better time management skills. So what is your next step?

You might find the following tips useful in developing your time management skills:

  • Be realistic with yourself regarding how much you can actually accomplish in a given time period.
  • Realize that all tasks are not equally important and set priorities on a daily, weekly, and/or monthly basis.  
  • Fine-tune your ability to say “no” to additional responsibilities that infringe on your personal, work, and/or leisure time.  
  • Be aware of your peak energy periods and plan to do activities, which require a high level of concentration and performance, during those times.  
  • Ask yourself “what’s the best use of my time right now? And focus on that particular activity.
  • Remember that striving for perfection takes time and usually isn’t necessary. Complete tasks well enough to get the results you really need.  
  • Realize that many tasks/responsibilities can be delegated to others. Be sure to communicate your expectations clearly. 
  • Make basic decisions quickly to save energy for the more important and difficult decisions.
  • Approach overwhelming responsibilities with a positive attitude, and learn to break large tasks into small, achievable ones.
  • Make use of “waiting” time, by having small, uncomplicated tasks/activities to do…or simply plan to enjoy this time and relax.
  • Request uninterruptible time whenever needed to achieve goals. Take control of your environment at home and/or work to establish a conducive place for task involvement and completion.  
  • Set goals and reward yourself when you’ve accomplished them.
  • Always remind yourself of the benefits you’ll derive from task completion.
  • Free time, leisure activities, and exercise need to be scheduled/prioritized, as well as work activities.

Tips for Participating on a Discussion Board

Back to top

  • Think ideas through before responding. You do not want to respond to be considered flaming. It often helps to outline responses before responding. Be polite and respectful.
  • Use good communication skills. Keep your comments concise, but do meet the requirements posted for discussion by the instructor. Avoid brief affirmations such as “Amen”, “Ditto”, and “I agree”. Don’t quote or copy long passages form a previous post. Quote only the relevant portions to make your response clear.
  •  Pay careful attention to instructions. Be sensitive with your use of language.
  • Use subject lines in your post to keep the flow going for a certain discussion item. Be sure to change the subject line if you are changing the direction of the discussion.
  • Try to stay on track and respond directly to comments being made.
  • Log on to your course discussion board every single day or a minimum of 5 days a week.

Tips for Netiquette

Back to top

It is hard for someone reading your communication to know your tone of voice and impossible for someone to read your body language or your facial expressions.  These are all very important when we speak to someone.  Netiquette is the way you express yourself when you are writing emails or posting on a discussion board.  Here you will find tips on how to express yourself.

  • Acknowledge what someone else has said before posing a different viewpoint.  If you disagree with someone, it is a good idea to start a message by briefly re-stating in your own words, what the other person said.  This lets the other person know that you are trying to understand them.
  • When presenting a controversial point of view, identify whose view it is.  For example, “in my experience….” Or “according to the author…”.
  • If you feel the need to send an angry message, take a break.  If you write out the message, don’t send it immediately.  Save it and look at it later.  You may want to tone it down after you have re-read it.
  • It is a good idea to check your spelling if you are posting to a discussion board before posting.  It will be the first impression you make on someone.
  • Remember that whatever you post to a newsgroup or bulletin board is public and may be copied and sent to others.
  • Remember to always title your messages.  This is especially true for newsgroups and bulletin boards so that others can delete it without reading it if they wish.
  • Sometimes emoticons are used to convey emotion:
  • Smile :) or :-) Indifferent :-|
    Wink ;) or ;-) Disappointed :-e
    Frown :( or :-( Mad >:( or >:-(
    Surprised :-o Laughing :-D
    Screaming :-@    
  • A few abbreviations that are commonly used are:
    • BTW (by the way)
    • IMHO (in my humble opinion) This is a good non-offensive way of expressing - - ones own opinion.
    • lol (laugh out loud)
    • rofl (roll on the floor laughing)
    • brb (be right back)
    • cya (see you later)
  • When you post or email someone with a question, make it as easy as possible for them to help you.  Make your questions as clear and specific as possible, and provide as much information as possible.
  • Keep your communications to the point.  Some people pay for Internet access by the hour.  The longer it takes to read your messages, the more it may cost them.
  • Be careful not to post unrelated comments or advertisements to your groups.  This practice is known as spamming and will quickly lead to another unpleasant Internet practice, flaming.  Sometimes you might offend someone unintentionally.  Be prepared to receive some angry e-mail or be treated rudely by others in the group.  This is called being flamed.  If you attack back, you will spark a flame war.  The best response usually is no response at all.  You must be careful not to read into a message something that is not there and not to make judgments about where someone is coming from.

Tips for Studying Smarter

Back to top

  1. Keep up with your course.  Online courses are time consuming and you need to keep up with the reading and discussion boards.  You should review the syllabus every week as assignments can change and you should keep a calendar of the dates assignments are due so you can plan your study time to have assignments completed on time.
  2. Keep in touch with your instructor.  Study the syllabus to understand the instructor’s testing format, grading system and expectations.  If you do not understand an assignment or have technical problems contact your instructor right away.
  3. Schedule regular study periods.  If you don’t set aside a specific study time chances are you will fall behind quickly.  Select and use the same area if possible, away from distractions.
  4. Be realistic.  When you make up your study schedule take into account your work and home schedules and plan for study times you will be able to complete.  Remember the average time per week to spend on an online course is 10-12 hours.  If you run into conflicts with your study schedule, it is better to spend half an hour on your course than to plan for an hour or two and not work on it all.
  5. Study short and often.  Your brain takes in information faster and retains it better if you don’t try to overload it.
  6. Start study sessions on time.  It sounds like a small detail, but it’s amazing how quickly those 10 minute delays add up.  Train yourself to use every minute of your study schedule.
  7. Study when you are wide awake.  The majority of people work most efficiently during daylight hours.  In most cases, one hour during the day is worth 1 ½ hours at night.  Decide what your best time is and try to schedule your study time accordingly.  You accomplish more when you are alert.  If you find yourself nodding off, give in to it.  It’s better to pick up at another time rather than try to get through everything when you can’t think straight.  Tackle the toughest areas first, while you are most alert.
  8. Set a specific goal for each subject you study.  You’ll accomplish more, faster if you set a specific goal for each study session.  Don’t worry if you don’t reach your set goal within your allotted study time.  Either reschedule the task into your next study period or go back to it later in the day, if you can.
  9. Start assignments as soon as they are given.  A little work on an assignment each day will allow you time to give attention to its quality.  Your workload will be spread out, so you will avoid doing it at the last minute.
  10. Review your notes, assignments and discussion board discussion on a regular basis.  Reviewing your work on a regular basis keeps you up to date and helps shorten the study time required for quizzes and exams.
  11. Take regular breaks.  The general rule of thumb is a 10 minute break for every 50 minutes you work.  Don’t study through your breaks.  They rejuvenate you for your next hour of studying.
  12. Vary your work.  Don’t get too bogged down on one assignment.  Remember the tip of study short and often.  Alternate from reading the text to working on an assignment to working on a paper.  This will keep you from having trouble processing information from one particular assignment. If your course requires problem solving, spend a little time each day working on the problems assigned in the course.
  13. Reward yourself. When you complete one of the goals you set for yourself, give yourself a reward.  The reward system gives you an incentive to reach your goals, and a pat on the back for achieving them.
  14. Keep on top of it. Letting work pile up can leave you with an overwhelming task.  It’s easy to feel that you’ll never get on top of it again. If you find yourself falling behind, review your study skills and your time management skills.  If something unexpected happens in your life to affect your work on the course, contact the instructor and discuss it with him or her.

Adapted from Making Your Mark, 5th edition, by Lisa Fraser.

Last Updated: 7/31/12