How Will I Succeed?
- Self motivation – It will be up to you to check the online course calendar to ensure you complete your work before the deadlines without prompting from your instructor.
- Effective time management – An online course does not have a set class time, so you will need to set one for yourself to get your work done.
- Preparation – Spend some time navigating around the course environment; check out the buttons, links and other navigation tools. Find the syllabus and read it thoroughly. The syllabus contains valuable information from the instructor that will help you succeed in the course.
- Academic Integrity – Plagiarism and cheating are not tolerated at UCF. For more information, review the Academic Integrity Modules.
- Basic computer skills – At a minimum, you will need a computer with an Internet connection, web browser, and word processing software. Check the syllabus for additional technical requirements.
- Asking for help – If you run into trouble, contact your instructor right away and ask for help, or contact Webcourses@UCF Support for technical issues at http://online.ucf.edu/support/
What Can I Expect?
- It’s not easier – Expect your online course to take as much of your time as a traditional class. Often students say online courses require more work. Face-to-face courses sometimes have a participation grade that you earn for showing up and taking part in class activities. In an online course, you may have to complete short activities to earn a participation grade.
- Lots of reading – Instead of listening to your instructor lecture, you will need to read course materials online.
- Lots of writing – Activities that can be completed orally in a face-to-face class require writing in an online course.
- More deadlines – Even though you can complete course work at any time that is most convenient for you, assignments still have due dates, often weekly, and the software usually will not allow you to submit it late. Therefore, it’s important to check your course regularly so you don’t miss a deadline.
How Will I Connect with Others Online?
- Participate – You can achieve the same sense of community you get in a face-to-face class through your active involvement in discussion forums, emails, and chats.
- Be yourself – Don’t be overly formal or overly persuasive. Likewise, don’t be afraid to express your feelings, make a joke, or state an observation that is not completely relevant.
- Write thoughtfully in discussion forums – Be brief and to the point; avoid rambling or unnecessarily detailed posts. Most students will skim or skip overly long posts. Always follow your instructor’s guidance regarding expectations for discussions.
- Share tips and suggestions – Helping someone in your online class might provide valuable insight to others as well. Sharing your experience helps in building relationships and making connections with your classmates that can continue long after the semester ends.
- Ask questions – Post questions in the Discussion Board or send an email. Remember, there are no dumb questions and you are probably not the only one wondering about the same issue.
- Group projects are common, even in online classes. Use these opportunities to network with your classmates and learn from their expertise.
How Important is Communication in an Online Course?
- Written communication is very important in an online course. Without body language to help express yourself, choosing the right words and tone when posting in an online discussion or emailing your professor or classmates is key.
- Read the other postings before submitting yours. That way you can contribute something new to the discussion and avoid repeating comments others have already posted.
- Compose your messages in a program with spell check if you have trouble with spelling, then cut and paste them into the discussion post. This will also give you a backup.
- Proofread your message – Be sure your message is clear and the tone appropriate. You will be better read and better understood if you put time and attention into your discussion or chat posts.
- Explore – While group discussion may be cut short due to time constraints in a face-to-face class, it can continue online where a richer discussion can take place.
- Stay in touch with your instructor; make contact regularly. Your instructor wants to help you.
- Write effectively – Written communication is often your only way to interact with your instructor and fellow students in an online course. If you need help improving your writing skills, the University Writing Center can help. Visit them at http://uwc.ucf.edu/
How Often Should I Check my Online Course?
- Access your online course and check your email daily to keep up with course deadlines. In a study at Rio Salado College, it was found that students in general-education courses who log in on Day 1 of class succeed 21 percent more often than those who don’t.
- Manage your time – Time management becomes critical in an online class because you do not have the same structure that comes from going to a face-to-face class. Consider using a calendar to keep track of your assignments and due dates.
- Create a place to study where you can limit distractions and interruptions. Designate a block of time everyday for your online class as if it was an on-campus class.
- Be prepared to commit 3 hours or more to every 1 credit hour on your course each week. Many students find online classes require more of their time than comparable face-to-face courses..
- Don’t procrastinate – Allow yourself plenty of time to complete assignments. Not waiting until the last minute to turn in assignments reduces your stress and gives you time to find an alternative if you experience technical problems.
- Enjoy a flexible schedule – As long as you meet the instructor’s deadlines, an online course allows you to complete your work at the day and time that works best for you.