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Online Learning Success:
What to Expect
Written by Gayle L. Fornataro, Virtual Valley Student Success Coordinator

home > student resources > Online Learning Success: What to Expect

Table of Contents:  

1. Welcome
2. Lesson One: What to Expect
3. Lesson Two: Am I Ready for an Online Class
4. Lesson Three: Time Management
5. Lesson Four: Participating in Online Discussions
6. Lesson Five: What is Plagiarism
7. Lesson Six: Ergonomics
8. Glossary

On this page learn:

  1. What I can expect from my online class
  2. What will be expected of me
  3. What I can expect from my instructor
  4. At what pace I can work
  5. The keys to succss

What I Can Expect from my Online Class

First of all, expect to feel lost! This is perfectly normal in a new online environment, especially if you are new to the Internet.  Don’t panic.  Slow down and see if you can get your bearings.  Look for announcements on  your course homepage that might give you information about how to proceed.

If you can’t figure out what you are supposed to do or where you are supposed to be in cyberspace,  don’t hesitate to send an email or call your instructor for help. 

Second, expect to work as hard, or even harder, than in traditional face-to-face classes.  Like more traditional classes, online classes can provide valuable learning experiences, but only if you put in the time to fully participate and succeed.  Because online classes are student-centered, a lot depends on your participation. 

You will need to spend an average of 10 to 15 hours a week on each online class.  Remember: when you take a regular class, you usually spend 3 hours a week in class, and 6-9 hours a week outside of class on homework.  All these hours are spent online in Etudes classes.

Third, you can expect to make friends and have fun!  Online classes are dynamic and challenging.  While this is serious education and not all fun and games, online classes are engaging.  Because everyone must post messages in an online class, you can get to know your teacher and classmates – sometimes even better than you do in a traditional classroom.  To get the most from your online experience, participate frequently and meaningfully in the online community your Etudes class makes possible. 

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What will be Expected of Me?

First, you will be expected to log into your class frequently – every day during the week and perhaps once over the weekend as well.  Online classes are structured differently from face-to-face classes.  Since they do not meet once or twice a week, the only way you will feel like a part of the class, learn, and keep up with new assignments is to check in frequently.

Second, you will be expected to meet assignment deadlines.  It is important to realize that, though the hours are unstructured in an online class, there are deadlines for assignments. You cannot wait until the end of the semester to hand everything in. 

An online class is an electronic community of learners. You may be asked to engage in group work and class discussions by a particular date and time.  Although online classes give you the flexibility to do your work at the time of day you want, it is every bit as important to keep pace with the class as in a traditional class.  If you are required to work in groups, you will be letting your group down if you don’t post your work for the other members in a timely manner.

Third, you will be expected to submit your work on time despite whatever technical difficulties you may have.  This means that, first, you need to make sure that you have the proper equipment before you begin the class.  Be sure to check the technical requirements and make sure that you have the proper computer, that you have a supported browser, and that you have reliable Internet access. Though it is not absolutely necessary to have a computer and Internet access at home, if you don’t, you are really taking away the chief advantage of the online class format – schedule convenience.

However, even the best computers crash, get viruses, or otherwise malfunction, and sometimes Internet Service Providers fail.  Technical difficulty is not an excuse not to get your work done on time.  Therefore, you need to develop a “plan B” for how you will submit work in the event of computer problems.  There are aver twenty computer labs at LAVC, and all public libraries have free computers for patrons to use as well.  Friends and family may also be a resource in the event of an emergency such as this. 

Since there are sometimes technical difficulties, you should not procrastinate in completing your assignments. You need to give yourself enough time to make other arrangements in case something goes wrong. This is your responsibility as a student in an online class.  You must be self-motivated and self reliant to a greater extent than in a face-to-face class.  If you do not feel that you can do this, then you should reconsider whether or not online classes are right for you.

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What I Can Expect from my Instructor

You can expect the same things from your online instructor as you can from any instructor you have.

  • You can expect your instructor to provide you with an online syllabus clearly stating course policies and grading scale. 
  • You can expect your instructor to return assignments in a timely fashion.
  • You can expect your instructor to respond to questions in a timely manner – usually within 48 hours.
  • You can expect your instructor to provide you with the same quality information as in any class.
  • You can expect your instructor to clearly state expectations for assignments, including what the assignment requires you to do and how it will be graded.
  • You can expect your online instructor to hold virtual office hours.
  • You CANNOTexpect your online instructor to make special exceptions for you about assignment due dates or other class requirements.
  • You CANNOT expect your instructor to read your work any time you want.  He or she will not be able to give you comments on work other than when he or she asked for it to be submitted, or during arranged office hours.

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At What Pace Can I Work?

You may do your work at whatever time of day or night you want – at noon, midnight, 4:00 a.m., or whenever you have the time.  This is the chief advantage of taking a class online and makes online classes especially good for working adults.

However, you will have deadlines to meet on at least a weekly basis.  An online class is not an independent study environment.  You are part of a community of learners and you need to keep pace with the class and submit assignments or participate in online discussions on a schedule set by your instructor. 

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The Keys to Success
  • Always check the “System Requirements” on the ETUDES home
    page to make sure you have the proper equipment to use the
    online class software.
  • Develop a “Plan B” in case you have computer equipment
     problems or other technical problems in the middle of an
    online class.
  • Log in to your online class website everyday to check for new
    announcements or assignments.
  • Read all instructions completely and carefully. This may be the
    most important key to success of all! 
  • Don't Procrastinate!         

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