How to be a successful online learner

November 9, 2021

Faculty who teach online classes believe in the learning process in an online environment and dedicate themselves to developing a curriculum that serves you as an online student. Online courses are rich educational opportunities for you during all stages of life. Because online faculty are deeply involved in course development, it’s important to trust their insights and advice. They want you to be a successful online learner

When we asked faculty from our Alamo Colleges to offer advice on how you can be a successful online learner, specific themes surfaced:

  1. Careful reading and preparation
  2. Time management
  3. Perseverance
  4. Appropriate technology

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reading icon Careful reading and preparation

Perhaps Dr. Linda L. Robertson-Schule, Professor of Psychology, says it best: “Read and re-read the course’s syllabus and the course expectations. Highlight the due dates.” The first and most fundamental way you can succeed as an online learner highlights the importance of preparation. Although “reading the syllabus” might not seem paramount, it is the most critical first action you can take. Careful reading is essential in an online environment because written communication is the best way for you to engage with professors and other students. 

The syllabus is the detailed roadmap for you that lays out the direction of the course. A few careful re-reads will ensure that you know what to expectation in depth, i.e., due dates and assignments. Other Alamo Colleges faculty echo this advice, encouraging you to review the syllabus in-depth and ask clarifying questions. Communication and clarity will alleviate expectations and help you feel less anxious about the semester ahead.

time management icon Time management

The second piece of advice encourages you to focus on time management. Although time management is helpful advice for any student, this skill becomes particularly important for online learners. Angela Brazeal Hagar, Associate Professor of English, says students “must be able to manage their time.”

How can you best manage your time given the many competing demands of family, work, and school?

Dr. Joshua Garcia, who has taught online Business courses for ten years, advises that you “set a schedule and stick with it to keep you on track.” Each faculty member asserted the importance of time management. While this skill looks different for individual students, it’s vital that, once you have read and reviewed the course expectations, you devise a way to manage your time. Your success in an online course depends on it.

Motivation icon Perseverance

A careful reading of the syllabus and good time management will certainly help you succeed in your online courses, but not without perseverance. Nearly every faculty member emphasized the importance of online students advocating for themselves and exhibiting an internal drive to succeed in courses. One way to accomplish this is to ask yourself clarifying questions and contact your instructor and perhaps meet during office hours, if possible. However, determination lies within you, the student. When you feel purpose and passion for the course, you will naturally create time and practice careful readership. This practice, above all else, is essential for your success as an online student. 

Professor Patricia Ann Lamson and the other faculty teaching online throughout the Alamo Colleges encourage you to commit to your education and give it your best effort. Lamson says:

“Give your classes all you have! The classes you have chosen are for you and you alone. You have chosen a path of study; in doing so, you must put everything into your classes so that you can be successful in your life.”

Computer icon Appropriate technology

Finally, it is essential to remember that mobile devices should not be your sole point of classroom access. Angela Hagar emphasizes this point by saying, “You need to be prepared to log in to your course on an actual computer so that you can see all the resources [and] click on all the modules. Some of those things don’t translate to your tiny cell phone screen.”

Although you can use a tablet or phone to complete specific course activities, such as posting in a discussion thread, mobile devices are unsuitable for more complex assignments. When it is time to write a paper or take a proctored exam, students will need access to a laptop or desktop computer for the best learning experience. 

If you are ready to invest in your education and learn online, know we have a team of dedicated Enrollment Coaches prepared to support you here at Alamo Colleges. They are here to help you get started with the application process and help guide you through registration for online courses this upcoming semester.

Get ready to AlamoONLINE. We can help.

AlamoONLINE Enrollment Coaches can:

• Help you start the application process

• Guide you in the enrollment process for fully online courses

• Connect you to registration with a college advisor

• Refer you to services available to online students

Contact us today.


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