Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hints and Tips for Online Learners

June 30. 2011

On June 11 I had the privilege of officiating my son's wedding. In the homily, I gave the couple three key ideas (three Scriptures) to hang onto as they began their life together. My hope, of course, was that some wisdom from above would help them have a happy marriage. They were at a beginning point, and I wanted them to have a great start.

With DCC 101 beginning Monday, and other classes starting tomorrow, DCC Online Students are at the beginning point of a new semester of classes. That being the case, I wanted to offer a few hints and tips to help you have a great start.
These thoughts come from two perspectives: 1) my perspective as the director of online learning and 2) my perspective as an online student. After you read my thoughts, I want you to post comments to this post in which you note some of the best hints and tips you have learned (assuming you have taken at least one online class).

From the Director's Point of View
  • Get logged in and start working on your online class as soon as you get the notification that the class site is open. From the statistics we have gathered, one of the surest ways to do poorly is to wait until part way through the first week of class to get logged in and started with class. When the classes are only 6 or 7 weeks long, you cannot delay.
  • Read and Post to the discussion forums! If you do not make at least one substantive post to the discussion forum, you will be marked absent. After two absences, you will automatically absence-fail the course. Just as important to your success is that some of the best learning occurs when students get engaged in the discussion forums.
  • Read the comments your instructor puts on your written assignments. Do not just look at the grade and move on. The assignments are designed to help you learn, but the learning is not complete until you review the comments from your instructor.
  • Back up your work!
From My Experience as an Online Student. I did a graduate degree almost entirely online, and I learned some things. Here are just a few:
  • The best learning occurs when you engage the instructor in a dialog after you get your assignments back. Not only do you need to read the instructor's comments on your graded assignments, you need to message the instructor about any questions that are raised in your mind. If you do not understand a comment or think the instructor misunderstood your point, get it clarified. Some of my best learning occurred when I did that.
  • Start a master bibliography. There were many books and resources that I used repeatedly in papers. When I was done writing, I always had to go through and get my works cited page all set and formatted correctly. If I had kept a master bibliography, I could have just copied and pasted many of those resources into the paper and saved time.
  • Post to the discussion forum early in the week. If you post early in the week, there is a lot to say about the discussion prompt. If you wait until later in the week, then other students will have already said the things that are most apparent. If you wait, you will need to dig really deep to say something new and substantive. That can be good for you, but it will definitely take more time.
Now it is your turn! DCC Online is a community of learners. We can help one another. If you have learned a hint or tip from taking online classes that you want to pass on, please post a comment below and tell us about it. We have set the blog to allow open comments, so you do not even need to register to post a comment. Help one another!

Bruce Long
* Associate Dean - Online Learning * Dallas Christian College


  1. I agree with all your suggestions for getting a good jump on the course. I would also suggest that it is a great idea to get a jump on the weekly assignments also. If you can somehow first outline the essays and create a rough draft the day before the assignment in due, you can add content and smooth out the writing the next day before final submission of the assignment.

    This process many times will smooth out your writing and convey your thoughts better resulting in a better overall grade on the assignment. The trick is to try to do the assignment over a two day period rather than everything on the last day.

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