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How to Be a Successful Online Student at BSU

Created by Dr. Melanie McNaughton

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  Maintain Strong Communication 

Maintain clear communication with your professors, your peers, and the support staff that you will work with throughout your online learning experience. If you do not understand an assignment, or if you’re not sure where to find something, exercise your problem-solving skills and ask for help. Staying connected to others is important.

Communication is important in all learning environments, and even more so in online or hybrid courses. Please be intentional about your communications and communicate regularly and frequently. Online courses rely heavily on our efforts to communicate well in order to keep from feeling isolated and to remain engaged.  

Communications need to be respectful, frequent, timely and consistent to maintain an engaged and productive learning space.  

Please consider how your online posts or comments may be interpreted and carefully select your words. Tone of voice and other non-verbal communication is lost in text-based communications, therefore, please be mindful of how others may perceive your comments despite your good intentions.  

Respectful and inclusive communications are part of our norms that we all rely upon to create a welcoming environment to foster your success. If you have concerns related to bias or discrimination, you need not navigate that alone. Please contact any of the following campus resources for help: Your instructor/s, the Title IX Office, the Office of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, or the Office of Student Success and Diversity.  

Before posting to a course discussion forum, please consider the following guidelines for appropriate web-based communications: 

  • Passion is great; positivity and politeness should also be in step with your passion when communicating with me and your classmates.   
  • To err is human; to forgive is divine.  Be gracious when others make spelling or grammatical errors. 
  • Even with emoticons, tone and context can often be lost in text-based communications.  Keep that in mind when sharing a post that is comical or satirical.   
  • Respect the privacy of others.  If you are sharing information of a personal nature that affects a classmate, check with that classmate before posting. 
  • Proofread your responses before submitting.  Maintain the mindset that anything posted on the web is permanent.   

Let your instructor know if something that has been posted in a course discussion forum is inappropriate or offensive to you. 

 Remember "Netiquette"

  • Remember to practice netiquette. The virtual classroom should be a safe space for everyone to share their ideas, questions, and concerns.
  • Avoid side conversations, rustling papers, typing, or tapping too closely to the microphone. If you need to step away for any reason, remember to mute your microphone so you don’t disrupt others’ work while you’re away from the keyboard.
  • Use the “raise hand” feature and the chat for class participation/question-asking.
  • Direct your questions to a specific person in the session so they know you're speaking to them. Expect a few seconds of delay before an answer.
  • Avoid echo by muting your microphone until you need to speak.
  • Look directly at the camera to make eye contact with others in the session with you.
  • Respond to typed discussions with appropriate capitalization, grammar, and punctuation.

 Class Attendance and Participation 

Attending synchronous class meetings and regularly participating in synchronous and asynchronous discussions and assignments is key to succeeding in an online environment.  

  • Asking for Help: Request assistance when needed.  
  • Office Hours/Student Hours: We encourage you to take full advantage of Student Hours and attend when you can. You don’t need to have a particular question; you can use this time to receive individual assistance on assignments, feedback on your progress, discuss and update your learning goals, or to explore course topics of interest in greater depth. In order to get the most out of Student Hours, visit the instructor prepared with how you’d like to use the time -- bring your relevant course materials, questions, or ideas.
Group Work/Student Collaboration Guidelines 

Research has shown that student collaboration enhances learning and can create a welcoming classroom environment. Please do your part when student collaborative work is assigned in your course. 

  • Consider group work as an opportunity to practice conducting yourself like a future leader in your field, demonstrating civility and respect.  
  • Know that it is common for groups to progress through a series of stages, one of which is conflict. Please do you best to respectfully address any conflict that arises within the group before requesting instructor involvement, for like in the workplace, prematurely escalating to higher chains of command may affect morale and lower group productivity.  
  • Follow the below guidelines, borrowed from the Clark Workplace Civility Index, to promote a positive group experience: 
    • Welcome your student group members 
    • Communicate respectfully (e-mail, online, phone, and face-to-face)  
    • Avoid spreading rumors 
    • Encourage and mentor others 
    • Use respectful language 
    • Participate in a timely fashion; share the work.  

 Be Open-Minded 

Online classes are certainly different from the in-class experience. You may be asked to complete a variety of different types of assignments due to being in an online format. You may also find that you should trade old learning strategies for new ones, especially if how you typically study is no longer effective. There are many active learning strategies that are proven to be effective in both in-person and online learning environments! Be open minded about these shifts! On another note, it helps to share a little bit about yourself online, so peers and instructors still get to know you and gain a sense of who you are, even from behind the screen. Be open to sharing some things about yourself, and even a little bit about your online experience. You never know who may learn a thing or two from you. 


  Be Flexible 

Technical difficulties happen. Things don't always go as planned; be flexible, be patient, and remember good communication about any issues that arise is key. 

 Develop Self-Motivating Habits 

On average, colleges and universities report that online classes may require anywhere from 4 to 20 hours of work per week (depending on your course load). What strategies will you use to hold yourself accountable for your learning? Consider the following: set a scheduleplan on a weekly and semester-long basis, avoid multitasking, and break up your daily study sessions into manageable chunks of time.

 Become Detail Oriented 


Anything your professor posts in Blackboard is critical information for your progress and success. Become an active participant by remaining detail-oriented and up to date on tasks for your classes.  

 Find Your Organizing Strategy 

Do you write to do lists and enjoy checking off boxes? Set reminders on your mobile devices? Do you keep a planner? There are many strategies for staying organized throughout the semester. Don't be afraid to test a few things out in order to find what works for you. 

  Create a Regular Study Space 

Consider what kind of environment you study best in and how you might recreate this in your remote learning environment. Try designating a space for your studies, but also feel free to move to a new location depending on the task at hand or remove distracting devices from your study space if they hinder your ability to remain focused. Finally, consider your technology needs. Be mindful of your internet and/or webcam circumstances and if your internet speed or devices are not meeting your needs for success, contact us, we may be able to help you.

 Lessen Distractions 

Harness your imagination and picture that you're at school and not at home or in your remote environment. This may take some time. Don't be afraid to try out multiple techniques. Here are some tips for making the most of – and staying engaged in – video lectures. 

  • Designate a work/study spot for yourself. Ensure that it's quiet, and conducive to your learning style.
  • It's highly recommended that you wear headphones during your real-time virtual class session.
  • Check your surroundings to make sure others won't be distracted by anything happening near or behind you during the virtual class and use the features available to blur your background or use a “fake” background if that would be helpful.
  • Close distracting apps and tabs. Humans are not as good at multitasking as they think! There are many productivity apps on your phone or computer that have been created to help you stay on task.

Have a question about online support?

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