Top 10 Tips for Navigating Online Courses
(Content from The University of Iowa, tutor.uiowa.edu)
Eastern Iowa Community Colleges has moved all classes to online formats through April 12 due to COVID-19. While you may have taken an online course previously, these modifications to the in-person format may be different than the more structured styles students are typically accustomed to with traditional online courses. To help ease this transition, here are 10 tips to help you succeed in the virtual class format moving forward.
- Evaluate and prepare for technical requirements. You will more than likely need some form of computer or tablet to complete work and
stay up to date. Experienced students in online courses recommend taking time to get
acquainted with the platforms and the means through which you need to complete work
and meet requirements. Having a reliable internet connection and operating system
is crucial to staying on top of deadlines. If you do not have access to these resources,
be sure to reach out to your professors as soon as possible.
- Manage your time. Students find that planning ahead and staying on track are the hardest aspects of
online courses. At the beginning of the online change for each course, write down all important dates in your planner if you have not already done so (focus on finding potential new assignments & responsibilities
or changes to the syllabus due to the change to the online format).
- Make time in your schedule. If you are not required to “attend” class at a specific time while it’s being held
virtually, create time in your planner that is exclusively dedicated to working on
each of your classes (differentiating between lectures, readings and assignments for
each course). You should be spending as much time working on your virtual course as
you do when it’s offered in person. For example, if you take a three-semester hour
course, you should devote three to four hours each week to learning the material,
and about five to six hours each week studying and committing the material to memory.
- Finding your pace and self-responsibility. The most successful students in online courses typically realize not having an instructor
in person means they must be responsible and accountable on their own regarding pace
of work and other responsibilities. Keeping proper pace with assignments and exam
deadlines provides you enough time during this period to complete required work with
the same level of attentiveness and quality you typically would, while also providing
enough time to ask questions and get help if needed.
- Consider your personal learning style. Online courses require a lot of reading and repetition to fully grasp the material
as much of the learning will now be self-managed. If you are someone who can only
focus when it’s quiet, consider working in a personal space or isolated location that
may be different from your normal public study spaces or other quiet places away from
- Actively participate. Be sure you are staying engaged in your courses and participating as instructed.
Also, be sure to complete all assignments in a timely manner and keep up with the
relevant materials and instructions from professors as the transition is made. Try
to make the format as engaging and interactive as an in-person class if possible.
- Check online support options. Double check the expectations of your instructors for each course. For course-specific
support, always reach out to your instructor as your line of first contact. For additional
help with your online classes, utilize the online tutoring option via Smarthinking
on Canvas. Tutoring is still available to students via email and online appointments.
Contact information and details are available on the lower half of the Student Resources page.
- Identify professor expectations. Instructors will expect you fully participate in the course and that you remain courteous
and considerate toward your classmates. Emails, discussion board posts, and assignments
should be appropriate, relevant and demonstrate your knowledge of the material as
you would in any typical online or in-person course format. While this will likely
be a different experience and vary across courses, be sure to avoid inappropriate
comments, cyber bullying and plagiarism as you would in the course normally.
- Communicate with the professor. If you feel you are struggling with the material or managing the course load during
the transition period, reach out to your professor. They will be able to offer you
support and guidance and potentially accommodate and support you in any challenges
you may be having. It is also important to communicate concerns clearly as soon as
they occur to ensure you can keep up with requirements and to receive appropriate
- Find a ‘course connection’ to help ease the transition. This transition period may be a difficult process, especially changing from the in-person format, so it is important to ensure you are on top of all updated and important information for your courses. An effective way to do this is by establishing a connection with another student in the course and exchanging contact information, so you have a way to share updates and make sure you are both meeting deadlines and expectations while not in physical classes. It is also crucial you check for updates on email and Canvas regularly to ensure you are not missing any important information regarding the online format and transition overall.
While we hope this transition is a temporary shift, we also acknowledge the potential for more changes during this unprecedented global event. Utilizing these tips for planning and course management will prepare you for success in your future academic endeavors.
Questions? Call toll-free 1-888-336-3907, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the college nearest you and ask to speak to an advisor.
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It is the policy of Eastern Iowa Community College District not to discriminate in its programs, activities, or employment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, creed, religion, and actual or potential family, parental or marital status, as required by the Iowa Code §§216.6 and 216.9, Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d and 2000e), the Equal Pay Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. § 206, et seq.), Title IX (Educational Amendments, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681-1688), Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794), and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq.). If you have questions or complaints related to compliance with this policy, please contact Debora J. Sullivan, Equal Employment Opportunity Officer/Equity Coordinator, Eastern Iowa Community College District, 101 West Third Street, Davenport, Iowa 52801, 563-336-3487, email@example.com or the Director of the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, Citigroup Center, 500 West Madison Street, Suite 1475, Chicago, Illinois 60661-7204, phone number 312-730-1560, fax 312-730-1576, OCR.Chicago@ed.gov.