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Being successful in online classes: What it takes


Contact: CMU News

If you’re thinking about taking an online class but aren’t sure if you’re cut out for it, you’re not alone. Millions, however, have taken the leap.

According to the Online Learning Consortium 2013 Survey of Online Learning, 7.1 million students took at least one online course in 2012 and 33.5 percent of all higher education students now taking at least one online class. “All of these students, in order to be successful in their online courses, must possess certain characteristics,” said Marnie Roestel, manager of Central Michigan University’s No. 1 ranked online programs.*

Roestel outlines the characteristics needed to help ensure success in learning online:

Online learning does not mean on your own. Online learners are in class with other students and an instructor who all have much to offer. Forming bonds with others in the class provides vital support and motivation outside of the class.

Online students motivate themselves to learn and work successfully on their coursework through planning. While they interact with professors and classmates, much of the learning is initiated by the student through logging into class, reading and responding to discussion board postings, undertaking homework assignments, and studying for exams.

It is the level of individual effort put in that makes earning a degree so rewarding in th end. Online students have to persevere through technical issues, homework assignments and course content that does not come easily, or when it’s already been a long day and homework is waiting. Identifying and utilizing support resources is critical.

Organization is critical for creating the proper balance between family, work and school. When taking online classes, course material, including the syllabus, a calendar with important due dates, instructional materials and class notes, need to be organized. Ending a class successfully starts with an organized, well-prepared beginning.

Those embarking on online courses must establish goals and begin with the end in mind. They must know what they hope to accomplish, whether it is additional job skills and training, earning that long-eluded degree, or securing a promotion. A goal will provide motivation to continue, take initiative and persevere.

*U.S. News and World Report named CMU’s undergraduate online programs and its online bachelor’s programs for veterans best in the nation.

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