There are big differences between doing well in an online class and doing well in a traditional classroom setting. Here are some pointers to help you excel in your online educational environment.
Explore your online environment early: As soon as you gain access to your school’s online area, you should explore it thoroughly. Click through all of the links that you can to see which ones work and which ones don’t. Know where they take you and how to use all aspects of the site. Sometimes the links offered by your instructor for a particular course can be very helpful in getting through your workload. Learn how to send e-mails to your professor, your classmates and how the posting of completed assignments will work and also how you will access your grades for work as the semester progresses. You are much better off accomplishing all of this early on so that navigation is not part of any issues you might have later with the course.
Don’t wait until the last minute: Taking classes online is vitally different from a traditional education in the sense that you may be prevented from handing in your homework for a variety of reasons beyond your control. “The computer ate my homework” is not an excuse that most professors are willing to accept. In addition, standard Internet failures happen on occasion and the site for submitting your work may be down the day it is due or your computer might go down. In any event, if you can complete your work early and turn it in, do so as much as possible.
Google It!: If you find yourself struggling with any part of your class, use the power of the Internet to your advantage. The sum of human knowledge is out there for the picking, you just have to know how to find it. Be careful, however if you do use information from the Net because not all of it is accurate. In addition, if you use the work of someone else, make sure you cite it properly in your work or you run the risk of being labeled a plagiarizer which could mean expulsion from the school.
Save all of your work: This just means that if your class offers you the opportunity for you to do your work directly through an online system, you should save a copy of everything you submit on your own computer as well in case there is an issue later.
Get to know your professor: Your professor is just about the only contact you are likely to make in many of your classes and the most important one of all. If they seem the friendly type, get friendly with them in return with e-mails. Standing out in a digital classroom of 100 students or more is not easy to do but if you can make your name stick by being the one who was nice and wrote all those funny e-mail stories then it can only help you.
Get ahead of the class: Most online classes run on an open schedule – that is to say that the professor will tell you at the beginning of the semester what will be due and when and leave it up to you to do your assignments on time. If at all possible, get ahead of the current assignments and start turning in work a week or two in advance of when it is actually due. Not only will this give you a margin of safety against technical difficulties or other issues that may come up in life, it is likely to impress the professor as well.