Are you ready for your online class?

You are reading the Original Version (CLB5+) Read Simple Version (CLB3-4)

Skip to:

Online classes are the wave of the future. More and more people are discovering the benefits of going online to learn anything from life hacks to earning degrees, especially during the pandemic. The ease, accessibility, and flexibility with which information is shared as well as the increased interaction through web applications and social media platforms have made it efficient and effective.

With this new way of learning, you will need to use new tools and follow new rules. Whether you are enrolled in an online course or MOOC (Massive Online Open Course), a virtual chat, or webinar, keep the following guidelines in mind to help you maximize the experience:

Change your mindset

Despite its growing acceptance and popularity, many still view online learning as a second-rate alternative to in-person learning. Online learning is different, but it is not inferior. In fact, learning online can be more effective because it is self-directed. This means that the learner takes control of their learning path and decides the best way to go about the course. They also set their own schedule and goals. But whether online or in-person, you get what you put in. If you are engaged and committed to studying, you will reap the rewards.

Learning online requires:

  1. A good grasp of your personal learning style
  2. Clear learning goals
  3. Self-motivation
  4. Discipline
  5. Focus (there will be a lot of distractions when you’re not inside a classroom)
  6. Being proactive

Synchronous or asynchronous learning? Have you heard of these terms? Some online classes are synchronous, meaning that students and instructors are online at the same time. It’s like being in a regular class except that it is online. Meanwhile, asynchronous learning provides activities that students can complete at their own time. Materials can be there (in a portal or website) for the duration of the course or for however long students may need them. However, some courses provide students a certain time frame – say, a week – to access materials, study, take quizzes and finish assignments. But they can do so anytime of the day. Some courses have both synchronous and asynchronous components. Students are required to attend regular online lectures at fixed times and days, and then study, answer quizzes, and do any other learning activity at any time within the week.

Be comfortable with technology

Know the technical requirements beforehand and prepare before the class starts. Be clear about the following:

  1. Registration – Follow the registration guidelines on the appropriate learning platform or website. Bookmark the site for easy reference.
  2. Technical specifications – Know the system requirements for your device as well as any software or applications needed. These are usually posted on the Intro page of the course and may include specifications for the operating system (will the course and materials run on Windows, Mac or Android, and which version?), suggested browser, or internet bandwidth requirements. You may also need speakers, a headset, and microphone.
  3. Other software or accounts needed – You may need an email address to register. For forums and other activities, you may need to install Skype, Zoom, and a social media account.

It would be a good idea to do a dry-run before the course starts. If you are using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) software like Skype, read 5 tips for better online video communication to prepare for your class.

Set your study area and schedule

Get organized. Set up a study area where you will have privacy and good wi-fi signal. Set a regular study schedule. This will help you become more focused and productive. If you are attending a synchronous class, be online at least 15-30 minutes early so you can work out any possible technical issues and to be comfortable before the class starts.

Mind your manners

Always practise good netiquette! This means:

  1. Communicating respectfully. Talk to your facilitator and classmates as you would in real life. Greetings of “Hello” or “Good morning” are customary. This signals that you are online and ready to join the class (in a synchronous session). In the same way, if you need to step out of the session, say so or set it as a status that you’re “away” if you don’t want to interrupt the class. You can also leave a message on the chat box. Remember to proofread your responses before hitting send.
  2. Ask questions. Asking questions is a good way to let your facilitator know that you are engaged. You can also ask your classmates questions in the forum. But don’t waste other people’s time with redundant questions – these are questions that have already been answered in the FAQ (frequently asked questions) section, those that are easily searchable, or those that have been answered in the forum previously (if you came in late into the forum, read past posts first). Also, leave an appropriate amount of time for people to answer. Asking the same question repeatedly can be annoying.
  3. Don’t monopolize the session by talking too much or going off-topic. Give everyone a chance to speak. Respect other people when they are talking. Don’t butt-in or speak over them, especially when you disagree with what they are saying. Everyone has a right to their opinion. If you can’t avoid disagreeing, do it in a calm and respectful way. In general, don’t start fights online. It is a waste of everyone’s time.

Participate actively

Let your presence be felt by asking questions and sharing your resources. Touch base with your facilitator regularly to let them know how you are progressing or if you need help. Always submit assignments or exams/quizzes on time. You can also:

  1. Join the forum – This is the proper venue to share your views, opinions, learnings, or questions.
  2. Connect with your classmates – Build a supportive community by connecting with your classmates online. You can also use other platforms like social media or have informal meet ups in real life. This will make your class more fun as you build friendships, exchange new resources and expand your network.
  3. Blog – If you like writing, blog about your course and share your learnings with others. Who knows, maybe your blog will become popular. You may even be considered an authority on crtain subjects. This can boost your professional reputation.
  4. Provide feedback – This is a great way to show your appreciation to your facilitator and school. Your constructive feedback can also help improve the course and benefit other learners.

Enjoy your online class!
Article updated July 13, 2021.

Back to top

Community Resources

Want to see if you can practice these guidelines well? Test it out by joining our weekly virtual chats. Participating in our Coffee Chats is a fun and informal way to learn about Manitoba while practicing your conversational English skills.

Back to top

We'd love to hear from you!

Please login to tell us what you think.

Related Learning Activities

Week 1 – Digital Citizenship

Laptop on desk for distance learning from home

Week 1 focuses on the key concepts of the digital world. Think about your daily life and the technology you… Read more »

WorkCom_Week 4

A woman giving a presentation at work

This is our last week of Workplace Communications. This time you are in the driver’s seat. We look forward to your presentation… Read more »

WorkCom_Week 3

A woman giving a presentation at work

We have now reached week 3 of Workplace Communications! This week, we are engaging in a number of activities that allow… Read more »

Digital Skills at Work

Article thumbnail fallback

Course Description Digital Skills at Work (DSW) is a four-week course focusing on essential digital skills required to succeed in one’s career…. Read more »

Back to top

CC BY-NC-SAText of this page is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA, unless otherwise marked. Please attribute to English Online Inc. and link back to this page where possible. For images and videos, check the source for licensing information.