A Few Things Every Online Student Needs to Know

MCC Online Learning StudentAre you an Independent Learner? 

Online Learning is not easier than face-to-face learning – it is just different. Faculty develop online courses that are engaging, interactive, and student-centered.  Faculty may create assignments where you work in groups and interact with other classmates to complete coursework. Learning online provides students the flexibility to manage their work, family and other obligations. With that being said, keep in mind that if you are taking an online course for the first time, online classes do require you to be more of an independent learner with good time management skills.  If you think an online course is the best fit for you, take the “Online Readiness Survey” to help you better prepare for learning online and continue reading the suggestions below.

Stay Connected

Learning online will require that you have access to a computer with an Internet connection. That may not always be easy, particularly if you do not own a computer or have an Internet service provider at home. However, there are many places to connect to the Internet such as school computer labs, public libraries, coffee shops, or a friend or relative's place. If you are having difficulty finding a connection, don't give up and avoid making excuses. Check with your school administrator about the Internet resources available at your school or within the community. 

Maintain Your Computer and Your Files

Computers are an essential part of your online learning journey. If you own a computer, be sure to maintain the hardware and update the software regularly. As with any important piece of equipment in our lives, such as a cell phone or a car, computers need regular care and attention to operate smoothly. Be sure to regularly organize your electronic files, update operating system software and other supporting systems such as browsers and word processing programs, and protect your computer from electronic viruses.

Here are some resources below;

Browser Checker:  https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Student/Getting_Started/Browser_Support/Browser_Checker

Troubleshooting tips like cookies, cache, audio & video issues; 
(resource from Lesley College)

Lastly, technology can be unstable at times so make sure you back up your important files. One successful strategy is to keep copies of course documents and assignments on a portable "USB” drive or save to your cloud storage. 

Establish a Routine

At first, learning online may be a dramatic change for you. Some of us find comfort with having to show up at a certain time each day for a class or series of classes. Whether you begin to take a fully online course, or are just visiting an online course for resources, the freedom to accomplish such tasks can be intimidating at first.

As best as possible, establish a routine and avoid procrastination. Stick to the recommended or required course deadlines. Set aside some time each day for completing the course readings or activities. As well, plan to spend a good amount of time reviewing messages from your teacher and classmates within the online discussion, along with responding to them. After a short while, you will begin to feel more comfortable and confident as you settle into your routine.


Some students mistake the concept of learning "anytime, anywhere" for not having to participate. In every class, some students always contribute to the discussion, some students participate half the time, and some students are shy and stay rather quiet. Where do you fit in?

In every case, the online environment accommodates all types of learning styles and preferences. If you are shy and don't like to share your thoughts in class, that's okay. Discussing topics online allows you the time to digest the concept, reflect, gather evidence, and post a thoughtful response. You also get to see the responses and perspectives of all of your classmates instead of just the few that always participate. So, what are you waiting for, get in there and participate!

Communicate Clearly

Learning online can be a bit writing intensive. Communicating in writing is much different than communicating in person and the tools we use online to interact can vary. Your teacher may post some requirements as part of the course on how to interact properly with the available tools so be sure to follow those requirements.  If not, the following recommendations should help you get started. Similar best practices are often referred to as "netiquette."

  1. Write clearly and concisely.
    Use full sentences, including proper grammar and spelling. In other words, avoid "texting” unless requested.
  2. Maintain your personality. 
    When expressing opinions and perspectives, find ways to add humor, emotion, empathy, and other elements into your messages.
  3. Avoid plagiarism.
    Always express yourself using your own words. When using someone else's words to help describe or support your point, quote or credit your source.
  4. Create Drafts.
    When composing long messages, emails, or discussion responses, you may want to draft them off-line first to avoid any possibility of losing your work. You can also take advantage of spell and grammar checkers when drafting off-line.
  5. Email Properly.
    Always include a Subject for each email and always sign your name at the end to inform your instructor you are sending the message.


To learn more about registering for online courses please call 1-800-818-3434.



Last Modified: 8/4/23