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Page history last edited by abogado 12 years, 4 months ago


1. Read How to be a Successful Online Student 


How to Take an Online Class 

(taken from Pasadena Community College)


The Online Learning Environment

In many ways, learning online is similar to learning in the classroom. Your instructor will provide quality readings, exercises, assignments and quizzes; as with regular classes, what you get out of it is related to how much you put into it. Expect to spend the same amount of time and energy on an online class; in fact, online classes can take more time and energy than regular classes.

However, it is also different in several distinct ways. Click on each to learn more:

Work and study habits

Online classes are convenient and flexible but students have to be disciplined enough to make time to study and participate. Successful online students:

  • Log in regularly to their classes, usually at least three times per week
  • Plan to ensure enough time to study and complete assignments
  • Take notes as they study
  • Commit 6 - 9 hours per week per three-credit class
  • Enjoy communicating in writing and reading the writing of others
  • Be able to work with others via email and chat to complete projects
  • "Speak up" to their instructors when problems arise

Online interactions are often an essential element of the learning experience. Be willing to share your ideas, carefully consider your responses to others, and be prepared to have your ideas challenged occasionally.

Effective learning styles

Online learning is best for those who learn by reading and writing; if you learn better by hearing lectures or making presentations, an on-campus class might be a better fit. Successful online students:

  • Are active learners who are willing to take responsibility for their own learning
  • Are visual learners able to learn easily from reading and writing. If you learn best by hearing the instructor, you may want to consider an on-campus class or ITV/telecourse distance education class.
Necessary skill set
The instructor can not see their students and won't know if you are confused, bored, or frustrated unless you are willing to talk to her/him about it. Successful online students:
  • Know how to use technology properly. This tutorial provides help with computer skills and information about Blackboard, the delivery system we use to present online courses here at PCC.


  • Read and write well. Students with weaknesses in these areas can get remedial help or consider classroom learning.


  • Are comfortable addressing problems at a distance. Distance education students need to be assertive in order to make their needs known.


  • Have good time management skills to plot and follow a schedule for finishing readings and assignments.


  • Have solid research skills, including how to effectively use the Internet.


  • Have the ability to work well cooperatively, even when your communication is restricted to email or online chat.


Two important qualities of a successful distance learner are flexibility and adaptability. Learning online is an adventure that will expose you to some entirely new - and not always comfortable - experiences. The ability to be flexible and remain open minded is critical to having a positive experience as you move into uncharted territory.

(from University of Illinois)

What Makes a Successful Online Student? 

Like the facilitator, the online student possesses unique qualities. The online students of today consist primarily of working people who are trying to better their opportunities. This however is changing, as more and more young and older people become aware of the online model. The traditional school will never go away, but the virtual classroom is a significant player in today’s educational community. Corporations are using the online model to train technical professionals while private and public universities redefine the world as their markets. The market for students is expanding rapidly. In general, the online student should possess the following qualities:

  1. Be open minded about sharing life, work, and educational experiences as part of the learning process.
  2. Introverts as well as extroverts find that the online process requires them to utilize their experiences. This forum for communication eliminates the visual barriers that hinder some individuals in expressing themselves. In addition, the student is given time to reflect on the information before responding. The online environment should be open and friendly.

  3. Be able to communicate through writing.
  4. In the Virtual Classroom, nearly all communication is written, so it is critical that students feel comfortable in expressing themselves in writing. Many students have limited writing abilities, which should be addressed before or as part of the online experience. This may require remedial efforts on the part of the student.

  5. Be Self-motivated and self-disciplined.
  6. 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 process.

  7. Be willing to "speak up" if problems arise.
  8. Many of the non-verbal communication mechanisms that instructors use in determining whether students are having problems (confusion, frustration, boredom, absence, etc.) are not possible in the online paradigm. If a student is experiencing difficulty on any level (either with the technology or with the course content), he or she must communicate this immediately. Otherwise the instructor will never know what is wrong.

  9. Be willing and able to commit to 4 to 15 hours per week per course.
  10. Online is not easier than the traditional educational process. In fact, many students will say it requires much more time and commitment.

  11. Be able to meet the minimum requirements for the program.
  12. The requirements for online are no less than that of any other quality educational program. The successful student will view online as a convenient way to receive their education – not an easier way.

  13. Accept critical thinking and decision making as part of the learning process.
  14. The learning process requires the student to make decisions based on facts as well as experience. Assimilating information and executing the right decisions requires critical thought; case analysis does this very effectively.

  15. Have access to a computer and a modem.
  16. The communication medium is a computer, phone line, and modem; the student must have access to the necessary equipment.

  17. Be able to think ideas through before responding.
  18. Meaningful and quality input into the virtual classroom is an essential part of the learning process. Time is given in the process 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.

  19. Feel that high quality learning can take place without going to a traditional classroom.

    If the student feels that a traditional classroom is a prerequisite to learning, they may be more comfortable in the traditional classroom. Online is not for everybody. A student that wants to be on a traditional campus attending a traditional classroom is probably not going to be happy online. While the level of social interaction can be very high in the virtual classroom given that many barriers come down in the online format, it is not the same as living in a dorm on a campus. This should be made known. An online student is expected to:

  • Participate in the virtual classroom 5-7 days a week
  • Be able to work with others in completing projects
  • Be able to use the technology properly
  • Be able to meet the minimum standards as set forth by the institution
  • Be able to complete assignments on time
  • Enjoy communicating in writing.

The online learning process is normally accelerated and requires commitment on the student’s part. Staying up with the class and completing all work on time is vital. Once a student gets behind, it is almost impossible to catch up. Basically, the student needs to want to be there, and needs to want the experience. The instructor may have to contact students personally to offer assistance and remind the student of the need to keep up.

Just as many excellent instructors may not be effective online facilitators, not all students possess the necessary qualities to perform well online. In your online course, you may want to include reference links to resources and tips for your students to use to help them be more successful online learners. Clearly outline your expectations and the necessary characteristics of a successful online student so your students can understand if the online environment will be a productive learning environment for them. Provide a questionnaire for prospective students to fill out to assess whether they are good candidates for online learning.


2. Many students believe online classes are easier or take less time than a face to face class. Both beliefs are wrong. Because online classes have the same requirements as traditional classes, the amount and time spent on the class should be the same, or may in fact take longer (from Pierce College)


3. Each unit of lecture is equal to 18 hours of “seat time” in a normal classroom.  Each unit of lecture should be accompanied by an additional 2 hours of study time.  If a 3 unit lecture class is taught in 18 weeks, it would require 3 hours per week of “seat time.”  If that same class were taken during a 5-week Summer or Winter term, itmwould require 10.4 hours per week plus the additional 21 hours of study time or a total of 31.4 hours per week, or 4 hours per day per week.  These are good rules for scheduling yourself to work on classes you take online.  (from LA Trade Tech)


4. You are expected to read everything on the class home page and follow the links and directions on it.


5. You are expected to drop any online class you do not want to complete.  Do not rely upon the instructor dropping you for lack of participation or attendance. You are expected to log into the virtual classroom each week as needed to read new announcements from the instructor, read assignments, and submit work on time.  In classes that are short-term, you should log in daily.  In the event you have technical problems, you are expected to locate another computer to continue logging into the virtual classroom.  If work is lost on a home computer, you need to contact the instructor to discuss the issue.  Thus, a printed copy of the course syllabus and other pertinent information should be kept for emergency situations when technical difficulties develop.


6. You can expect to have your instructor respond to your email questions and phone calls within a couple of days.  If you do not get a response, try again.  When leaving a phone message, speak slowly and give your name, class and phone number twice at the beginning of your phone call.  If you can’t reach your instructor within 3 days, you can contact Prof. J, the Director of the Paralegal Studies Program at (cell) 818-415-2015 or email: abogado@pacbell.net


7.  Don’t assume your first email or phone call reached your instructor and was read by him or her.  If you don’t get a response, contact your instructor again and politely ask for assistance.  Give at least 24-48 hours for your instructor to respond.  He/she will probably be receiving hundreds of emails and calls each week.  He/she is trying to help everyone, but sometimes that task is impossible.  Therefore, be understanding and continue to try to reach him/her in multiple ways to get the help you need. (from LA Trade Tech)


Learning Style

The best way to learn depends on a person.  Recognizing and understanding one's learning style can help improve the quality of learning.  Several studies have developed different categories of learning styles. Below is a learning style model developed and used by North Carolina State University.  The model assesses four dimensions (active/ reflective, sensing/ intuitive, visual/ verbal, and sequential/ global) of learning styles.





Active Learners
Reflective Learners
Active Learners
  • Active learners learn by doing something active - discussion, application, or teaching materials to others. 
  • Like to do group work. 
  • Sitting through lectures without any activity but taking notes is hard.
  • If class does not allow for discussion, study in a group where members take turns explaining different topics to each other. 
  • Work with others to study for exams.
Reflective Learners
  • Reflective learners prefer to think about course materials first before discussing the information.  
  • Like to work alone. 
  • Study by stopping periodically and review/ think what you have read.
  • Think of possible questions or applications.
  • Summarize readings or class notes in own words. 
Sensing Learners
Intuitive Learners
Sensing Learners 
  • Sensing learners like to learn facts.
  • Prefer to solve problems by using well-established methods and dislikes complications and surprises. Do not like to be tested on materials not explicitly covered in class.
  • Patient with details and good at memorization of facts and doing hands on work. 
  • Practical and careful.
  • Do not like courses that have no connection to the real world.
  • If class material is abstract and theoretical, ask questions and specific examples of concepts and procedures.
  • Find out how concepts apply to the real world - ask instructor, look at references, or brainstorm with classmates.  
Intuitive Learners 
  • Intuitive learners prefer to discover possibilities and relationships.
  • Like innovations BUT not repetition. 
  • Can grasp new concepts and are comfortable with abstractions and mathematical formulations.
  • Innovative.
  • Do not like courses that involve a lot of memorization and routine classes.
  • If in a class that deals primarily with memorization, may have trouble with boredom - ask instructor for interpretations or theories that link the facts, or try to find the connections yourself.
  • May also be prone to careless mistakes on test because you are impatient with details and do not like repetition (as in checking your completed solutions) - take time to read the entire question before you start answering and check your results.



Visual Learners
Verbal Learners
Visual Learners 
  • Visual learners learn by seeing images, diagrams, flow charts, timelines, and demonstrations. 
  • Find images, diagrams, sketches, schematics, photographs, flow charts or any visual representation of the course materials.
  • If cannot find any visual materials, prepare own flowcharts, concept maps or any visual representation.
  • Color-code notes with highlighter so that everything relating to one concept is the same color. 
Verbal Learners
  • Verbal learners prefer the use of words - written and spoken explanations. 
  • Write summaries or outlines of course materials in own words.
  • Work in groups - take turns explaining different topics to each other. 
Sequential Learners
Global Learners
Sequential Learners 
  • Sequential learners gain understanding in linear steps, with each step following logically from the previous step.
  • Prefer to follow logical stepwise paths in finding solutions. 
  • If in a class where instructor jump from topic to topic or skips steps, ask instructor to fill in the skipped steps or fill  them in by consulting references.
  • Create outlines of the material in logical order. 
Global Learners 
  • Global learners tend to learn in large larges - absorbing the materials without seeing the connections BUT eventually seeing the complete picture.
  • May solve complex problems quickly or put thing together once they have the big picture.
  • Realize that you need the big picture of the material before you can master the material.
  • Skim through the course materials/ text to get an overview of the material. 
  • Instead of spending short time on every subject every night, study one subject for large blocks of time.
  • Ask instructor to help you see connections.

Proper Web Etiquettes

  1. Do NOT send or post materials to anyone in the class that you would not be comfortable saying to that person.  This includes use of inappropriate words, jokes, and images. 
  2. ALWAYS proof-read materials that will be posted or sent for errors.
  3. Do not use the communication tools for personal matters.  For example, do not use for promoting social causes, selling materials, etc.
  4. Provide instructors and educators time to respond to postings (24-48 hours).
  5. Do not communicate just to communicate.  Any communication must advance the discussion. Posting "I Agree" to another student's comment does not add to the discussion.
  6. Think before you speak/ write.
  7. Try not to be the last person to post to the class discussion forums. Instructors are able to determine who contributed most and least to a project/ assignment.

Is Online Right for Me?

To find out if online learning is a good fit for your learning style, please take a few minutes to complete the student skills and technical skills quizzes below. These short quizzes will provide you with valuable feedback on whether online learning is right for you!

Online Learning Success - See  Lessons (from Valley) - http://www.lavc.edu/virtualvalley/ols/Welcome_Main_Menu.html - note: disregard any reference to Etudes course platform. We use the Moodle Course platform in our Paralegal Studies Program at Mission


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