Prepare for Your First Online Course

Thinking about signing up for an online course, or are you already signed up?

Online learning is a great and super convenient way to advance your career and education. Here are a few tips to ease your transition into online learning.

Be prepared, have everything you need to start:

Locate the computer requirements document on the school Web site. Make sure your computer fits the requirements and you have the right peripherals (printer, speakers, microphone, etc) and software (Adobe Acrobat to read .PDF files, Microsoft Word for writing papers, etc.).

Also, if you need physical books, make sure you order those in time so you have them for class. Most classes only use eBooks, be prepared. I did 5 years of online classes and one class did have a real book!

Once you have those things in place, make sure they all work. Don’t wait until the start day of classes to test your equipment.

Be organized, keep school stuff separate:

Set aside some space in your home to keep your school stuff. It is important to have some organization, even if it's just two folders — a physical one for important papers and a folder on your computer where you put all your papers. Put your books, some blank paper, a pen, and a highlighter all in one place. If you are planning to use multiple computers like one at home and one at work, buy a backpack to keep all you stuff in so it is portable and handy.

Know the virtual landscape:

Just as if you were walking around a new campus, you will need to "walk" around your virtual campus to learn where things are. Log into the school Web site and click on different links to see what is available and get a real feel for your school.

Learn the layout of the classroom:

Check out the course Web site by logging into your course and familiarize yourself with the space. Click on all the links; check out the discussion board, the assignments page and the messaging system.

Be ahead of your course:

Find the syllabus and read it. This will give you an idea of what you are going to study, how much reading there will be, what kind of assignments you will be doing, and generally acquaint you with the course.

Remember to ask questions, enjoy the experience and most of all, remember to relax and breathe!


By: Angela Caban