Online Course Basics

Getting Started

The Online Course Format

Tips & Techniques

Getting Started Checklist

Helpful Websites




General Tips Image of pencil and notepad

Time commitment.  Before signing up for a course, consider your time commitments.  Keep in mind that online classes take as much time as traditional face-to-face classes.  More concentrated sessions (4 to 8-week courses) will have an even greater demand on your time.  A good rule of thumb:  For a sixteen-week course, youíll spend on average 9 hours a week in an online course.  If you are taking an eight-week course, that time is condensed into 18 hours a week.  In a four-week course, you can expect to spend approximately 32 hours a week in your online course.

Be an active participant.  As a student enrolled in an online course, you are responsible for making sure you log-on to your course and are ready to begin the first day of class. Pay special attention to exactly when your course starts and mark your calendar to log-on that day.   Most of your instructors will not contact you initially.  You must e-mail your instructor and your classmates if you have any questions or comments. 

Do not fall behind.  Do not procrastinate.  Itís easy to do when you are not required to attend a class meeting 2-3 times a week.  Schedule a time to log-on to your course every day and study on a regular schedule.  Set a specific time each day that you will spend on your course. 

Ask for help.  Remember that your instructor cannot see you and wonít know if you have a question unless you speak up.  He/she has no way of knowing if you are confused, bored, or frustrated.  Donít be shy.  Although you will never meet your instructor, establish a good relationship with them by speaking up and asking questions. 

Apply what you learn.  Everything you can apply to your personal or business life will help you remember it more readily.  Try to make as many connections between what you are learning and what you do or will do in your job or future classes.  Be confident and plan for success!

Studying Tips

Read the entire course syllabus.  The syllabus contains the course description, objectives, requirements for completing the course, assignments and instructor contact information.  Be sure to read it carefully and make sure you understand what is required from you.

Keep up with your course.  Online courses are time consuming, and it is up to you to keep up with the assignments, readings, quizzes, and tests.  Be sure to read the announcement pages every time you log-on and to read all correspondence from your instructor.  Letting your coursework pile up can leave you with an overwhelming task and added stress.

Keep in touch with your instructor.  If you do not understand an assignment, have problems downloading information, or have problems taking a quiz or test, contact your instructor immediately.  As an online student, you are responsible for your learning.  Keeping in touch with your instructor will help you succeed in the course.

Schedule regular study periods..  If you donít set aside a specific time each day to work on your online course, you are more likely to fall behind.  Itís better to study more often for shorter periods of time, than to try and cram a lot of information during long study sessions.  Decide what your best time of day is (morning, afternoon, late night) and try to schedule your study time accordingly.  Youíll accomplish a lot more if you are awake and alert.

Learn about library resources.  As a Southeast student, you have access to a wealth of electronic resources offered by Kent Library.  Make yourself familiar with the library subscription databases and electronic books available to online students.  See Help and Information for Distance Students from Kent Library ( for details. Take advantage of the Libraryís online tutorial Searchpath ( to build your information skills.  Remember, good searching techniques equal better sources in half the time.


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