Tips for success

Whether you’re new to online learning or looking for ways to strengthen your current habits and approaches, here are a few tips and strategies to get you started on your successful online experience.

Know your learning style:

  • Visual Learner: Visual learners learn best by "seeing" information presented in various ways. In an online course, information is usually presented in a text format, so you will see and read information on your computer and in books. Textbook materials can help enhance written lectures by providing diagrams, maps, illustrations. Always read the course description in the MVCC College Catalog prior to taking the course so you know what to expect.
  • Tactile Learner: Tactile learners best process information using a hands-on approach, so identifying online courses that have a lab or other experiential component may be beneficial. You also might benefit by engaging in discussions with other students in your class or forming a study group.
  • Aural Learner: Aural listeners learn best by listening to lectures and discussing in class, which can be a challenge in an online course. Knowing what the course involves ahead of time can be helpful in choosing an online class, so make sure to read the course description from the MVCC College Catalog and contact the instructor to inquire about teaching style and course content.

Balance responsibilities and set priorities:

  • Know your deadlines. These include course deadlines as well as important events occurring elsewhere in your life while you are enrolled in the course. For each course you take, the instructor will provide a syllabus, which acts as a contract between you and that instructor for the class. Read through the syllabus carefully and take note of the instructor's expectations, course requirements, and assignment deadlines.
  • Plan ahead. If you know your time will be consumed by a non-course related activity during a particular week, do your course-related activities ahead of time.
  • Know your available resources, especially technological resources, and have them at hand when you are working in your course.
  • Keep in touch with your instructor. If you have questions regarding the content, contact your instructor immediately. The same goes for if you fall behind on your work; let your instructor know and ask for help in planning how you will catch up.

Manage your time:

  • Identify what time of day or night you do your best work, and when you are able to access the Internet and your course materials.
  • Set aside a certain time each day, or a few days during each week, to work on your course, and stick to this schedule.
  • Be aware at the start of the course whether you are required to participate in activities at any specific times, and plan accordingly.
  • If you are in a different time zone, remember to plan accordingly for your course submissions.

Become an active learner:

  • Read, listen to, and participate in the course.
  • Become involved in discussing and defining course topics.
  • Critically evaluate the information you receive.

Develop self-discipline:

  • Minimize distractions while online.
  • Ensure consistent access to a computer.
  • Have an alternative plan in case you have computer problems.

Communicate effectively:

Being a productive member of an online learning community requires you to communicate clearly and concisely in both written contributions and class discussions. 


  • Keep your sentences and paragraphs short.
  • Watch for careless errors; check your spelling and grammar.
  • Read your posting before you submit it. Correct any awkward or unclear areas before you post the final version. If you are quoting someone, make sure to use quotation marks and identify the author so you don't accidentally plagiarize.

Online class discussions:

In some courses, you may be required to join in class discussions and respond to classmates’ comments. These discussions may become complex, intense, and even provocative. Some tips:

  • Know what the instructor expects of your discussion responses.
  • Think before you write.
  • Reread your response prior to sending to make sure it is not an emotionally based reaction to another’s contribution. Learning to turn a reaction into a response will make your course contributions more meaningful. Pausing and rereading gives you the opportunity to review your writing for organization, clarity, and correctness.