USM Online

How to Succeed in an Online Course

1. As you register or think about a class ...          

Be sure you have reliable access to the Internet from your home; having to go to the library or a computer lab will severely limit your participation and success.

2. After you register, but before the start of the semester…

Make sure you can log-in to USM Email , Blackboard , and access MaineStreet. If you cannot, or if you have any technical question, contact the USM Computing HelpDesk by email at helpdesk@usm.maine.edu or by calling 207-780-4029.

Take advantage of technology tutorials if you feel unsure or are having trouble with technology.

3. On the first day of class...

Carefully read the syllabus and all of the assignments. Don’t hesitate to contact the instructor with any questions. (Email is often the best way to keep in touch with your instructor outside of Blackboard.)

Consider creating a binder or folder for each course -- including the syllabus, course schedule, major assignments, and deadlines. Staying organized will help you to keep current in the course.

4. In Week 1, develop good habits you’ll use for the entire semester…

Check into your Blackboard at least three times a week (more often if the instructor suggests). Read all of the postings in your discussion board.  
Learn from others. Go back after an assignment is turned in and compare what you posted to that which others in the class posted. Is yours as good?

Check your USM email regularly. If personal communication is needed, professors most likely will send email to your USM account.

If you do not understand the work expected of you, ask your instructor to clarify. This will not only help you, the instructor may revise the assignment or project instructions for the benefit of other students too.

5. Don't procrastinate! 

Waiting until the last minute to submit assignments can be risky. In online learning, you depend on technology to submit your work. You never know when there might be a glitch that will adversely affect your ability to post your work.

Take notes. Many courses use audio or video components to demonstrate key concepts or unusual or important ideas. Writing summary notes for multimedia pieces helps you review.

6. In the discussion boards …

Take care when posting to Blackboard – use proper grammar and spelling (use the spellchecker in Blackboard); do not use informal writing as you do when text messaging a friend.

Be respectful of your fellow classmates. Use proper etiquette when responding in discussion board forums. Do not attack someone personally if you disagree with them. Use appropriate language.
Save your postings in a Word document for yourself in the event a posting gets lost or misplaced.

Schedule a regular time each day to "go to class" in your online course; if you don’t make it a habit of logging-in to your online course regularly, it will be all too easy to neglect it.  Note a four-credit-hour class on campus would have four hours of classroom meetings each week, plus study time outside of class – BE PREPARED TO PUT IN THE SAME AMOUNT OF TIME WITH AN ONLINE CLASS! 

7. Throughout the semester …

Contact your course instructor immediately if you are not going to be able to login to your online class for some period of time (due to illness or travel).

8. Be conscious of deadlines.

If your instructor has provided a course calendar, consider printing it and posting it in your workspace. Add deadlines for your classes to your personal calendar. Check your grades often and contact your course instructor if you aren’t doing well.

Find a way to apply what you have learned. In a recent Educause study, a survey of online students found: "Students surveyed agreed that finding a way to apply the concepts helped them retain the information."

9. Ask for help when you need it.

USM offers free tutoring services every semester through the Learning Commons- Ask Online.  Tutoring subjects include writing, math, technology, accounting, finance, anatomy & physiology, biology, and english as a second language.

Also, USM faculty are willing to schedule appointments in-person or over the phone for students who have questions or need additional help.

Additional Resources on the Web…

Illinois Online Network tips for Student Success 

Characteristics of the Successful Online Student

Thank you to the University of Illinois Springfield for these helpful tips!