Succeeding in Online Learning - Some Tips


  • Ask for help when you encounter problems - your time is valuable, so don't spend a lot of time getting frustrated.
  • Ask in class discussion forums – most online courses have a place for you to ask questions.
  • Offer help when you can.
  • Sometimes a classmate can help you before the instructor is able to respond.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask. Some of your classmates probably have the same problem and need to see the solution as well.
  • Make use of the COTROnline Directions/Help to find out how to do things online
         (also found at the top of the Student drop-down menu).
  • Contact the COTROnline Help Desk if you encounter technical problems or need help completing an activity (example:  uploading a file for an assignment; copying text into a discussion forum; etc.).
  • Use the resources available. Here is a list of help options with contact information.

Time management:

  • It requires a lot of self-discipline to make the time for online learning - the average 3 credit course will take 10 - 12 hours a week depending on how quickly you read and absorb the information provided
  • Communicate as much as possible with your instructor, particularly if you don't understand what is required or when life (example: major illness) interferes with your learning and you need to be away for an extended time, need a deadline extensions, or help catching up.
    Note, your instructor won't help if you haven't already read the directions provided or accommodate you for minor life events (example: work changes your schedule).
  • Let your classmates know when you cannot be online, so they don’t wonder if you are there or gone for good.  This is particularly important if you are participating in group activities.
  • When responding to discussion posts, try not to respond to the same people all the time; try select someone who hasn’t had a response.  Doing this helps everyone feel included and valued.

Set up a Workspace / Time:

  • This will vary depending on your personal circumstances, but try pick a place and time with minimal distractions.
  • Remember, some activities (e.g. readings, discussion posts, papers, etc.) can be completed off-line, then uploaded or copied into your course.
  • Try be consistent in terms of workspace and time because your brain, and family, will develop expectations and behaviours that will support your learning.

Connect with classmates and your instructor(s):

  • Connect formally in discussion forums.
  • Develop a support network of classmates to communicate with privately and informally (this can be within a course or it can be elsewhere – it’s up to you); most online courses have a student discussion and/or chat area.
  • This is your time to develop a network of peers and friends – take advantage of the opportunity.

Check-in Often:

  • Check the site often to avoid missing an update from your instructor – this doesn’t have to be every day, but a couple of times a week will help you keep on top of things.
  • Use the built-in notification system, so you know when someone posts to a discussion forum.  Remember, this doesn’t mean you have to respond immediately.
  • Checking in does not require you to read and respond to every discussion post; use the guidelines provided by your instructor to determine how many posts you read and respond to.


Remember, your best learning opportunities often aren’t planned or scheduled, so be prepared to recognize and embrace them when they occur.

Last modified: Tuesday, 24 August 2021, 11:06 AM