Order the text, software/hardware, and/or other materials right away. That way, you will be ready to begin on time.
Notify your instructor or technical support immediately when you have issues or questions. The only stupid question is the one unasked.
Login on the very first day of class. Typically, there are some housekeeping tasks you'll want to complete. Login daily for checking announcements and emails. Better yet, if you have a smart phone, download the Canvas Mobile app, which can notify you everytime a change is made to a course. You do not want to miss important information.
Inspect the syllabus and course schedule thoroughly prior to the first day of class to be sure you are able to complete the requirements of the course.
Navigate the entire course thoroughly and well in advance of due dates. Technical issues or misconceptions could cost you valuable points even though you completed the work.
Ensure you have the minimal technical skills that are required to complete the course. Become familiar with all technology used in the course.
Send responses in a timely manner, best practices for response times in an online learning environment are within 24 hours during the work week. Be patient when waiting for your instructor or peers to reply to you. Remember, others work on different schedules than you. The 24 hour turn around time applies to everyone.
Understand that we all read differently online. Sometimes directions are right in front of us, but we miss them because we tend to skim and scan text online.
Chill out! Expect some issues. The only sure thing about technology is that it sometimes fails. Follow the procedures outlined in the course for dealing with technical issues.
Communicate professionally. Do not scream at your peers and instructors online by TYPING IN ALL CAPS! Also, avoid sarcasm in your responses when you disagree. Don't be a cyber bully. Avoid lingo you would use on Twitter, Facebook, or texts.
Expect to communicate primarily through writing and possibly through various audio/video technologies.
Socialize. Collaboration is likely to be a major part of the course. Expect to work in teams and interact with your peers and the instructor often.
Schedule time attending to class virtually. Pace yourself and complete activities on time. Expect to work harder online than with traditional coursework. You will need to be more of a self-directed learner. It's a myth that online courses are easier.