Strategies for Success
Review the helpful hints provided below to make your distance
course experience the best it can be.
- Stay current with each week's assignments; log in frequently
and dedicate a certain amount of time each week to the class.
- Use the communication features provided to interact with your
fellow students and instructor.
- Post any questions you may have to the discussion forum.
- Make sure you have a syllabus for the course you are taking.
Read it carefully; it should answer most of the questions you have
about the course.
- Textbooks and other course materials may be purchased at the
Gavilan College Bookstore. We recommend that you file your notes
and any materials mailed to you during the course.
- Preview your textbooks by scanning the table of contents,
major chapter headings and subheadings.
Developing a Study Plan
- Plan to complete your textbook reading assignments before the
lessons. Develop a regular schedule for completing these
- Keep good notes for each unit or topic. By doing this, you
will be able to review for examinations without "cramming"
everything in at the last minute.
Recruiting a Group of Study Partners
- Identify one or more classmates with whom you can review
assignments, discuss course information, and prepare for
examinations. Make arrangements to study together by phone, in
person, by email or chat.
- Use the instructor's review questions to discuss general
concepts of the course. Develop a vocabulary list of important
terms. Write definitions in your own words (especially terms you
do not fully understand) and review them on a regular basis.
- Look for ways to relate and apply the knowledge you are
gaining. Share your experiences with your study partner.
Asking For Help If You Need It
- This is probably the most important piece of advice here. In an online course, nobody can see you if you get stuck or have problems. It's up to you to get help. Contact the distance education coordinator (email@example.com or 408 848 4885) if you have technical problems. Contact your instructor when you have questions about course
content. Instructors are also available by phone during the
hours indicated in your syllabus, or you may make an appointment
for an on-campus meeting.
- Attend on-campus discussion sessions, if they are offered for
your course. These sessions give you an opportunity to have your
questions answered and to interact with the instructor and your
fellow students. Exam
study sessions are particularly valuable . Remember, in order to participate in a discussion
session, you must come prepared to the session. Prepare written
responses to the study questions provided by your instructor.
Tips and Suggestions
The following tips should make your web-based experience
- Schedule time to log on to the course site and
study--REGULARLY! To promote success, reduce procrastination, and
eliminate frustration, schedule regular study time for the course,
when you are most efficient and when it is most convenient. You
MUST log on several times a week!
- Take advantage of "any time, anywhere" learning! You do not
have to respond to discussion forum questions on the spot. Reflect
on the questions and type your responses in your word processor.
This allows you to articulate your responses before posting them,
without worrying about being "dropped" by your internet service
provider. Also, unlike in traditional classes where you have to
listen to everyone's comments, in a web-based course, you may
choose to read and react only to those comments that intrigue you
and are relevant to your learning.
- Be extra cautious, kind, and sensitive! The online environment
offers a level playing field. Factors such as appearance, age,
disabilities, race, etc. are not visible. However, because of the
lack of body language, students and teachers may offend each
other, often without intending to do so. Be polite and sensitive
when replying to posted comments. Don't "say" anything online that
you would not tell to someone's face.
- Don't stay lost and confused! When students get overwhelmed,
they drop. Often the mode of learning is blamed, when in fact they
didn't ask for help when they were lost or confused. If you are
unclear about something, it is very likely that others in the
course have the same question. Send an email message or call your
instructor, or post a message in the discussion forum. Your
instructors are very interested in your success! If your problems are technical (you can't log in, you can't attach an assignment), contact the distance education coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org or 408 848 4885).
- Go beyond the call of duty! Take advantage of the links to
supplementary materials that your instructor has gathered for you.
They will give you a more in-depth analysis of the course
- Stay in touch! Stay "connected" with the course, your
instructor, and your classmates. Don't allow yourself to fall
behind. Stay involved.
Consider getting a three-ring binder to print and organize the
units as you go. This can serve as your user guide beyond the course.
You may also print and use the Assignments as your check-off list to
monitor your progress.
Dialogue and exchange is a major component of web-based courses.
Daily participation is expected. Individuals who fail to log on
regularly and show progress may be dropped from the course.
The "due dates" are established to help you pace yourself. You are
expected to complete assignments as they are due.
There are a number of articles and online tutorials with good suggestions for using email effectively.
Effective Email - How to communicate powerfully by email
Just as there is regular classroom etiquette (for example, raising
your hand with a question), there are also some rules of etiquette
for participating in a web-based course. There are some commonly
accepted principles of behavior for proper communication on the
Internet. These are common sense rules on how to behave online.
- Use capital and lower-case letters as you would when writing
on paper. Using ALL CAPS indicates that you are shouting when done
in email or other web-based communication.
- You can use characters which express human emotions. Examples
Happy/Joking .. :-)
Sad .. :-(
A smile & a wink .. ;-)
- Critique ideas, not the person. Personal attacks online are
called "flames" or "flaming". If you attack other students, your
instructor may remove you from the class.
- Respect the privacy of others. Do not forward emails sent to
you without asking permission. Do not forward emails to your
instructor or fellow classmates that are not relevant to the
- Assume that others are as sensitive as you, or more so. The
guiding principles are the three "BCs":
- Begin with something positive. Example: "I like how you
explained so simply something that was so complex."
- Provide feedback on what they requested. Example: "I have a
suggestion about a paragraph you asked about. Make the second
sentence the first because it is livelier."
- Be specific. Don't use general negative comments. Example: "I
didn't understand what you meant by ... " Instead of "I don't get
your paper and it doesn't make sense."
- Don't be personal. Example: "Section 4 doesn't follow from
section 3. I think it needs a transition sentence or two between
them to make your meaning clear." Instead of "I don't like how
your answers jump from topic to topic. It's a jumble."
- Begin with an "I" statement. Express how you feel or think.
Example: "I feel confused when I read this paragraph. It would
help me understand it better if it was separated into two
paragraphs." Instead of: "This is confusing."
The ETUDES Forum function is great for working with other students
in your online class. Posting messages to a discussion topic allows
you to read, review and respond to messages posted by others in your
class. While not all instructor include online collaboration in their
classes, many do. To participate effectively in online collaboration,
you need to read the group discussion postings regularly. Post
questions by using the Reply feature, if there is something that you
want to know more about. Just like you would listen, speak and ask
questions in a face-to-face discussion, you can do the same online in
the ETUDES Forum
This orientation was developed by Vivian Sinou as part of a grant
from the Chancellor's Office, CA, 1999-00, and was adapted for
Foothill College. The pages were designed with ideas from Maricopa
Center for Learning & Instruction, Illinois Online Network, and
input from members of the California Community College Distance