Center for Continuing Studies - Innovative Leadership for Lifelong Learning

Center for Continuing Studies - Innovative Leadership for Lifelong Learning - St. Cloud State University

20 Tips for Success with SCSU Online

20 Tips for Success with SCSU Online


  1.  Communicate effectively through your writing.  The majority of your communication in an online class will be through the written word.  As a result, it is essential that students are able to communicate effectively with one another and their faculty.  If you are not entirely comfortable with your writing ability, it would be a good idea to seek out writing assistance and maybe even take a writing class prior to or while you are completing your first degree.
  2. Exercise discipline and motivation.  Online courses offer a significant degree of flexibility and freedom, but students must endeavor to exercise responsibility, discipline, and the ability to motivate themselves to complete assignments, tests, and see every course through to its conclusion.
  3. Speak up!  It is your responsibility to contact and communicate with your instructor if you are encountering problems in your online course- whether the problems are technological, instructional or personal.  Most instructors are willing to make accommodations or to point their students in the right direction for assistance if they know about problems or issues early enough.
  4. Computer and modem not included.  Just as paper, pencil, and textbook are essential items in the traditional classroom, access to a computer, phone line and/or modem (in addition to paper, pencil, and textbook) are necessary items for the online classroom.  You might also want to consider investing in upgrades for your hardware to improve compatibility and speed.
  5. Take chances!  Substance and meaningful communication are vital in the online classroom, not just by your instructor, but also by your classmates.  However, this is only achieved through a willingness to act.  You may not always be correct in your responses and you will likely be challenged by your classmates and your professor from time to time, but the opportunity to learn is enhanced greatly.
  6. Make a commitment to succeed.  The virtual classroom can be fast-paced, so staying on top of assignments, remaining in contact with your instructor, and logging in frequently will require an ongoing commitment on your part.
  7. Get to know the Desire to Learn (D2L) online delivery system. Like any new piece of software, the D2L system takes a little time to get to know.   Learning how to access your online classroom to find the course syllabus, course requirements, textbooks, and other equipment will be time well spent!
  8. Participate!  Your online instructor may not take attendance in quite the same way as he or she would in a face-to-face course, but your participation is still important.  You can let your instructor know you’re “present” by completing assignments on time, posting messages as recommended by the syllabus, and carrying your share of the work with any and all group projects.
  9. Always have a Plan B.  Murphy’s Law tells us that as marvelous as technology can be, problems can and always will occur.  When they do, a backup plan that is flexible and provides you with options will always allow you to achieve your tasks and submit assignments with a minimum of frustration and aggravation.
  10. Make your mark.  Be sure to include your full name in your emails and posts or even in the body of your message to reduce the chance of your instructor confusing your ‘mojoman24@hotmail’ account with someone else’s.
  11. Respond to emails.  If you receive an email from either your instructors or a classmate, make it a point to respond, even if it’s to say, “I’m not able to get back to you right now, but I will reply in the next 24 hours.”
  12. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  If you’re unable to find the answers you need in your course syllabus, contact your instructor, review course announcements in D2L, or contact your fellow classmates for help.
  13. Organization is important.  Discipline, commitment, and motivation- as valuable as they are to the online student- can only go so far.  Without a system of organization (notebook, PDA, smartphone, etc) to help you remember when assignments are due, the window of time for exams and quizzes, and how to contact your instructor if you have specific questions, your ability to succeed in the virtual classroom will be limited.
  14. When all else fails, read the instructions.  Read the syllabus, assignment instructions, preliminary information, and communications from your instructor carefully!
  15. Get your textbooks early.  In order to take advantage of the best deals with textbook retailers, research and buy your textbooks prior to the course start date.  Be sure to have the correct edition information, however!
  16. Find a proctor and testing center in advance.  A number of SCSU Online courses require proctored exams.  If you have registered for a course that requires them and you are unable to come to the SCSU campus, you should begin the process of locating a suitable proctor well in advance.
  17. Develop a schedule.  Establish and maintain a regular study time when your disruptions and interruptions will be minimized.
  18. Learn the fine art of balance.  Online learners have to juggle multiple priorities and roles.  It’s important to have time to de-stress so that you can continue to manage your education along with everything else.
  19. Evaluate your schedule.  After you’ve been in your classes a few days, take some time to evaluate your schedule.  Have you taken on too much?  Not enough?  If your situation warrants it, make appropriate changes.
  20. Take advantage of tutoring options.  If you find yourself struggling in your classes, find out whether there are tutoring options you can visit or online opportunities such as Smarthinking that you can utilize.
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