There is a myth that online courses are easier than traditional courses, but that is not correct. Online courses are just as challenging as on-campus courses, and perhaps even more so due to the additional self-discipline they require. The following are some tips to help you have a successful experience with UAB’s eLearning courses.

1. Get the Materials Before the Class Starts.

Order the text, software/hardware, and other materials before the start of the class. This will help you be prepared for the first day and will decrease the stress of last-minute issues.

2. Ask for Help.

Notify your instructor or technical support immediately when you have issues or questions. They can help you find the answers quicker and keep you from losing valuable time.

3. Review the Syllabus and Course Schedule Early

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.

4. Login on the Very First Day of Class.

Typically, there are some housekeeping tasks you will want to complete. After that, login daily to check announcements and emails. Better yet, if you have a smart phone, download the Canvas Mobile app (Android phone, Android tablet, iOS for an iPhone, or iOS for an iPad), which can notify you every time a change is made to a course. You do not want to miss important information.

5. Do Not Wait Until the Last Minute.

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.

6. Become Familiar with the Technology.

Ensure you have the minimal technical skills that are required to complete the course. Become familiar with all technology used in the course.

7. Send Response 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 that others work on different schedules than you. The 24-hour turnaround time applies to everyone.

8. Don't Skim. Take the Time to Really Read.

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.

9. Follow the Technical Procedures.

Follow the procedures outlined in the course for dealing with technical issues.

10. 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. Do not be a cyber bully. Avoid lingo you would use on Twitter, Facebook, or texts.

11. Be Prepared to Use Technology to Communicate

Expect to communicate primarily through writing and possibly through various audio/video technologies.

12. Be Social.

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.

13. Attend Class!

Schedule time to attend 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.