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:

  • 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. 
  • 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 CHROME and FIREFOX for all machines; Internet Explorer for Windows; and Safari for Apple.
    • Windows hardware: be sure your computer is at minimum a Pentium 4 running recent operating systems (Windows 7 or 8).
    • Apple hardware: be sure your computer is at minimum a PowerPC running recent versions of OS X (10.5 or higher).
    • Minimum 2 GB of memory (RAM)
    • The latest version of Java available from:
    • The latest version of QuickTime available 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
    • Access to your UW Google Apps - including e-mail, Google Docs and Google Sites. Your official University mail will go to your address setting. This should be set to your UW Google mail account. 
  • Manage your identity. Be careful out there!
    • Ensure you have up-to-date virus protection. 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 better prepared for the adventure of being an online learner. If you have questions, check out the IT Online Support Site for general help and the UWT CANVAS support site for help with use of UWT's learning management system - CANVAS