Online CJ | The Successful Online Learner

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helpTaking courses online places new responsibilities on the learner.

You're on your own, learning 24/7, when-how-where you want when joining an online course. To do well, your technology should be reliable and fast. Your hardware should be up-to-date. Your machine should be protected from viruses. You should use secure passwords and know the site and sender when being asked to download a file. These are your responsibilities, as your online instructor won't be able to help you with your own, unique technology problems. 

How about your study habits?
Here's an Online Learning Readiness Self-AssessmentHow did you do? What could you change to be more prepared for the organizational skills you'll need to do well in online courses?

If you think you're ready for online learning, there are a few success practices that the University of Washington Tacoma recommends, based on research regarding successful online learners. Start here, follow our sensible guidelines, schedule time and attention for your studies, and your online experience should be an exciting adventure in personalized, anytime learning:

Know what kind of learner you are

An invaluable tip for being successful is to recognize and understand your own personality and learning style. Considering how these characteristics are crucial for a person's motivation and attitude, it becomes clear that they can easily aid your success or failure. For instance, if you are outgoing, work better with friendly competition and prefer hands-on learning, taking a traditional or hybrid course may be better options for you. To determine your personality type and learning style, here are a few tests:
link to Myers Briggs Testlink to Multiple Intelligences quiz
link to Paragon Learning style inventorylink to Felders index

Manage Your Time

Online learners report a challenge in managing their work without the reminder of class time. You'll need a method for task and schedule management that works for you. You'll also need to be realistic about the time needed to complete an assignment or to study for an exam. Schedule that time ahead, allowing for life's interruptions. You may also be surprised by the engagement of online discussions. Be aware of your time online. Try the Pomodoro Technique if you're looking for an effective way to stay on-task and avoid interruptions. 

Use these worksheets to measure your ability to manage and plan your time effectively.

Manage your computer

You'll need a fast, reliable machine and connection to the internet.

  • You should have at least TWO browsers, as no browser/hardware combination can effectively handle all file types. We recommend the newest version of CHROME and FIREFOX for all machines; Internet Explorer for Windows; and Safari for Apple.
  • Windows hardware: be sure your computer is at minimum an Intel i3 processor running the most recent operating systems (Windows 7 or 8).
  • Apple hardware: be sure your computer is at minimum an Intel i3 processor running recent versions of OS X (10.6 or higher).
  • Minimum 4 GB of memory (RAM)
  • Java plug-in is required for screen sharing in Canvas Conferences. Please note that some browsers do not support Java. Java can be downloaded from:
  • The latest version of QuickTime available from:
  • Flash is required in several places in Canvas: media recording/streaming and viewing as well as uploading files to a course or an assignment. It can be downloaded from:
  • A headset with microphone for desktop machines or strong built-in microphone on your laptop

Manage your Software

You may need software specific to course and assignment, but to start, be sure you have:

  • A current word processing software, preferably MS Word. UW provides reduced or no-cost software to current students. More information can be found on the UWare website.
  • Access to your UW Google Apps - including e-mail, Google Docs, Google Sites and more. The Get Prepared page will show you how to set it up!
  • Use your UW NetID and password to log into Canvas, MyUW and other services.
  • Your UW email address will be Any email sent to that address will go to your UW email account. Any email you send from your UW email account will have that address as its return (From) address.

Manage your identity

Be careful out there! Ensure you have up-to-date virus protection. If you need anti-virus software, UW provides Sophos Anti-Virus Software for free. An ounce of prevention is worth a world of hurt. Never click on links supposedly from UW asking you to login. When in doubt, always go to the UW site on your own. Don't click that link! Use safe, secure password management. The name of your dog, spouse or child is NOT good identity control.

With these simple steps, you're gearing up for the adventure of being an online learner. Now, we want to be sure you're ready for class!

Next step icon directing students to a link in the following sentence


So, move on to the Get Prepared page to learn more!


If you have questions, check out the Getting Help page for general help and the UWT CANVAS support site for help with use of UWT's learning management system - CANVAS.