Intro to Online Learning & Tips for Success

Online learning at California State University, San Bernardino is offered through a Learning Management System, Blackboard Learn. Within this system, courses are delivered to students primarily in an asynchronous format. Most courses will contain timelines and due dates to keep students on track to finishing their courses and programs online. Students interact with faculty and other students directly through their courses by use of course tools such as email, discussions, chat, group activities and web conferences.

Online learning is convenient, but it also requires the right attitude and work ethic to succeed. Prior to enrolling in an online program or your first online course, read the Tips for Success.  

Tips for Success

A page hosted by the Illinois Online Network has some good discussion: What Makes a Successful Online Student.

At the beginning of each semester...

  • Assess Your Readiness for Learning
    Do not tell yourself that the course will be easy. Instead, prepare yourself to work hard. Most students find online courses to be convenient, yet a lot of work. Plan specific times and places you will work on the course without distractions.
  • Read All Course Information Clearly
    Though online courses often include audio and video, they are still very text intensive. Read through all course requirements, policies, and procedures carefully. It is your responsibility to know this information. If something is not clear to you, ask your instructor as soon as possible.
  • Pay Close Attention to the Course Calendar
    Study the course calendar and note the due dates. It is a misconception that online classes are completely self-paced. Class discussion needs to occur during a frame of time - usually one to two weeks. Assignments will need to be completed by the due date. Note these important dates and notify your instructor as soon as possible if you will not be able to log into the course for a period of time. Do not assume you can just catch up later after taking a trip, for instance.
  • Get to Know Your Classmates
    Most online courses have an area for course introductions. In addition to posting yours, read others' introductions. Do you have any of the same research interests or hobbies? Reach out to others in the course to help build a working relationship.

Time Management

It is easy to get behind in an online course. In face-to-face classes, you may have several weeks without assignments. For example, you could attend several lectures and take notes to study for an exam, but not have anything to turn in for weeks. In online classes, there are usually weekly assignments. When you participate in class discussion in a face-to-face course, you usually do not write anything. Online, discussions need to be thought out, organized, and written.

Below are some tips to help keep you from falling into the procrastination trap:

  • Add up all of the time you spend on work, family obligations, shopping, cooking, sleeping, etc. and note the amount of time you have left. Be honest with yourself - do you really have time to take this course?
  • Log into your online course(s) at least four times a week.
  • Enter the specific days/times you will work on the course on a calendar. You will be more likely to do it if it is scheduled just like a meeting.
  • Try not to schedule time to work on the course too close to the due dates. If at all possible, try to work a little ahead to count for any possible technical difficulties with your personal computer or Blackboard.
  • Read through assignments clearly and in advance so you have time to ask your instructor questions. Most instructors try to respond within 48 hours.



Thank you to the Center for eLearning at Cleveland State University for sharing the content provided within this section.