How to be a Successful Online Student

Main Content

Participating in an online class is a different experience than in-person classes. Scottsdale Community College offers online classes in three formats:

  1. Online classes do not meet at specific class times. Coursework must be completed according to deadlines. Students are required to have access to a computer or mobile device, and Internet access, unless otherwise specified.
  2. Live Online classes have live online sessions that meet on specific days and times. Attendance in these live online sessions is mandatory. Additional online work that is not synchronous may also be included during the duration the classes are offered and have set due dates for assignments. Students are required to have access to a computer or mobile device, and Internet access, unless otherwise specified.
  3. HyFlex classes give students the flexibility to attend class sessions in person, live online, or asynchronously online. Students are required to have access to a computer or mobile device, and Internet access, unless otherwise specified

Regardless of which format of online course you are taking, there are a number of things that you can do that can help you be a successful online student.

1. Technology

Be sure that you have the required technology for your course. This information should be contained in the course schedule and detailed in your course syllabus. Be sure to log in to your course early to make sure that you can access the materials. Also, review the syllabus and the online course to find out what you should do if you encounter technology issues.

2. Schedule the time

Be sure to schedule specific times when you will have computer access to work on your coursework and homework assignments. If you are taking a Live Online course, you will have a set meeting time that should be added to your calendar. If you are taking an On Your Time Online course, then you will need to schedule time for the necessary coursework. Honor this time just as you would an in-person class so you can get your work completed prior to the course deadlines. Additionally, do not wait until the last minute to complete your assignments as the assignments could be late if you encounter technology issues. It may be difficult to contact an instructor if you have questions at the last minute. Schedule the times you plan to work on your courses in your calendar so you do not skip them.

3. Organization

If possible, create a space where you can do your work. Make sure you have the supplies necessary for taking notes and working on assignments. Additionally, you should review all of your course syllabi and add assignments to your calendar as well as the times you plan to dedicate to working on the assignments.

4. Participate in the class

Be sure to participate in the course. If you are taking a Live Online course you may be asked questions during the course time and you will be able to answer those questions either verbally, written in the chat tool, or through polling tools. You may even be asked to work in groups where you interact on questions or projects with your fellow students. In On Your Time Online classes you may have opportunities to participate on discussion boards or through collaboration tools like Google Docs or other brainstorming tools that can be done on your time as opposed to having everyone working at the same time.

5. Get help when you need it

Scottsdale Community College has a number of ways that you can get assistance with your courses and with technology. If you are having trouble with your technology, SCC’s Help Desk will be able to help you during their open hours. Additionally, if you are encountering difficulties using WebEx or Google Meet, we have a dedicated team who can help you.

Your instructors are happy to assist you if you need clarification or assistance. Many of our faculty have dedicated virtual office hours. Details can be found in your Canvas course and syllabus. Additionally, many faculty are available by appointment if you email them for an appointment. When emailing them, be sure to include who you are, the course and section number you are taking, and times when you are available.

SCC has free tutoring available 24/7. Visit the tutoring page in your Canvas course for details on how to schedule a live tutoring session with one of our tutors or how to use our online tutoring services.

6. Take notes

Whether you are taking a Live Online or On Your Time Online course, you should take notes while reviewing the course materials. Taking notes will aid you in retaining the information you are learning and provide you with an opportunity to process that information. Additionally, in many of your courses you will be watching someone on the screen, whether live or recorded. For many of us, watching videos is a passive activity. By taking notes, you will make this an active learning experience and learn better.

7. Pay attention to instructions

While reviewing your assignment, read all of the instructions and if they are not written into steps, write them down in a step format so you do not miss any components of the assignment. Additionally, some faculty will provide you with a rubric or grading guidelines of what you need to do in order to earn a grade. If provided, review these rubrics carefully so you can be sure to meet all of the criteria for the assignment.

8. Don’t skip content

The Canvas Learning Management system that SCC uses for most of its courses uses modules to deliver course content. Your faculty have carefully developed and curated materials that support the learning process and that will help you meet the expectations for the course. It is critical that you review this content, take notes, and process the knowledge you gain prior to working on the assignments. You will not learn the content or be as successful with your assignments if you skip reviewing the content in the modules.

9. Don’t multitask, eliminate distractions

While participating in an online class, it is sometimes easy to get distracted or work on multiple things at one time. We encourage you to devote the time you have for your classes strictly for your class as you would if you were attending an in-person class. Watching TV or playing games when participating in Live Online sessions or when reviewing On Your Time course materials can easily distract you from the learning experience and result in lowered performance in your courses.

10. Get to know your instructor

Faculty have office hours dedicated to working with students. If you need assistance or would like to know more about the course or subject area, take advantage of the office hours as an opportunity to meet with your instructor. He or she is likely in the best position to respond to questions you have about their course.