Porterville College

PC Library

Is Online for You?

Advice from Students

  • Always notify your instructor when having problems with the program right away. Make sure you log onto the program every day and check for anything new. Keep in mind that online classes tend to be a little more work than going to a class. If you aren't self-motivated, you will not do well. Most instructors will help you as much as possible, however. If you have a hard time learning and finding things on your own, online is not for you.
  • The advice I would give a student taking an online class for the first time is to not procrastinate, and also be checking if the teacher has posted any assignments or announcements. I also recommend the student to ask questions to other class members or the teacher if they are not understanding certain concepts, assignments, or any other problem they might have.
  • Keep a calendar. When I first started taking online classes, I often forgot about assignments because I was busy doing the ones from the classes on campus. A calendar reminds you to login and check your due dates and assignments.
  • Make sure you set aside time for the class--do NOT procrastinate thinking that it's easier just because it is online!
  • I would advise them to not be scared. Online classes can be just as good as a physical sit down class. You just have to apply yourself.
  • The advice I would give to a first time user would be to always have access to a computer. Make sure your computer is compatible with the software utilized for the course. And of course be a good reader and make sure if you don't understand something don't be afraid and send a message to professor.
  • You will have to manage your time wisely. You will need to set up guidelines for your self and stick to them.
  • My advice would be make sure you know how to work a computer. Make sure you know exactly what you are doing before you take an online class. Online classes are very convenient BUT if you are not self-disciplined then you probably shouldn't take an online class.
  • Always read ALL the instructions at the beginning of class. This will help you navigate through homework and quizzes with much greater ease.
  • Follow up with the class. Log on at least a few times a day if not to respond then at least to see what is going on with the assignment at hand. Remember this is a class setting not a free blog site. Most of all enjoy the class.
  • If you decide to take a online class, make sure you have the time to do all homework. Most people seem to think that just because it is an online class that it's way easier because you don't have to sit in a classroom. Wrong. You have to attend (log in) on a daily basis just like any other class.

What to Expect in an Online Class

No two online classes are the same, but this list will give you an idea of what you are likely to encounter in an online class.

  • Textbooks are usually required: Most online classes have reading and other assignments that are taken from a textbook.
  • Assignments have due dates: Online classes usually have due dates for assignments.
  • Lecture material is usually provided: However, it will likely be in written form rather than spoken in your online class.
  • Communication does occur between you and your instructor:  The main difference is in how the communication occurs.  In an online class the primary methods of communication are by use of the course messaging system, course discussion board, or email.  Online instructors also can include comments on your assignments.  Your instructor may also give you a phone number or office room number where you can contact him/her.
  • A syllabus is an important document you must read and refer to: Just like in traditional classes online classes have a syllabus that you are expected to read and understand.
  • Tests and quizzes are frequently given in online classes: Sometimes the tests and quizzes are given online, other classes require you to come to campus and other classes require you to test through an approved proctor.
  • Discussions are often an important part of online classes: You may be asked to comment on a topic and reply to your classmates' comments.
  • Assignments are usually submitted through the course site: Since you don't meet on campus, yet you still have assignment to turn-in, those assignments are usually submitted through the tools of the course.  Occasionally you may be asked to submit an assignment through email, fax, or postal mail.
  • Attendance is mandatory. Expect to spend 6-12 hours a week on a 3-unit class: Like a traditional class, most classes require attendance (interaction with the course) at least a couple of times a week.

Tips for Success as an Online Student

Here are a few suggestions that may help you be successful in an online class.

  • Carefully go through this entire site: Prior to starting your online class, make sure you read and understand what is required of online students and how you can get help if you need it.
  • Use a good computer with a high-speed Internet connection: Students who report the most success and satisfaction in their online class generally have robust computers with a high-speed Internet connection.  However nothing is foolproof, so have a backup computer and a backup Internet connection that you can use in an emergency.
  • Understand how to use your computer and software before beginning your class: The more you understand about computers and the software that you will be using, the more likely it is that you will be successful. You should not expect to learn computers while you are taking your online class.
  • Always compose your answers in a word processor, where you can save your work:  With a word processor you can easily run a spelling and grammar check and you can save your work for your own records.  If it is a written assignment that requires you to submit your answers in a text box within the course, you simply copy and paste your response from the word processor into the text box of your assignment or discussion area.  If the assignment instructions require you to submit your response as a file, simply attach the file that you just saved and then submit the assignment.
  • Read the course documents carefully: Your success is closely linked to your reading and understanding the information given to you in the course. The syllabus should be the first thing you read.
  • Get help as soon as you need it: If you are experiencing any technical trouble or are confused about instructions, don't let too much time pass before asking for help.  Of course, be sure and check all the appropriate places first, to see if you can find the answer on your own.
  • Don't put off assignments or tests until the last minute: Not only will you be rushed and your work may suffer, but if something happens you may miss the deadline. Get started early to allow for possible problems.
  • Make Subject Headings/Titles Descriptive: Make sure your postings to discussion boards or emails to the instructor or tech support have meaningful subject headings.  For example, if you have a question about formatting your term paper a good subject heading might be "Question on Term Paper Formatting", a bad subject heading is less descriptive and might be "Term Paper" or "Question".
  • Try to Keep Posts Concise: In general your discussion board posts and emails should be short and to the point, unless they are part of an assignment that has specified a minimum length.
  • Show Respect: Always be polite and respectful when communicating to other students or to your instructor.
  • Classmates Will Have Different Backgrounds and Viewpoints: Be tolerant of other people's viewpoints, and try to learn from them. That's what being a student is all about.
  • Keep Humor to a Minimum:  Humor often requires facial expressions or tone of voice to be understood.  Humor expressed in writing can be misunderstood, so avoid it whenever possible.
  • Avoid abbreviations:  Not everyone will understand what "imho" means.
  • Keep discussion board postings on topic:  Don't post irrelevant messages or mix two messages in one unless you were specifically asked to do this.
  • Read prior messages before posting your own:  If you have a question, you may find that someone else already asked it and you may even find an answer.
  • DO NOT TYPE IN ALL CAPS: This is considered shouting and rude.
  • Check out the book, How to be a Successful Online Student, from the PC Library.  The call number is LC 5803.C65 G55 2001
Kern Community College District