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Faculty Development Center

Top Ten Tips for Succeeding in a Hybrid Course

Is this your first online learning experience? If so, read here for ideas on how to succeed in this learning medium.

Learning part-online requires extra commitment. It is vital that you stay current with the class and complete all work on time. Once a student gets behind, it is almost impossible to catch up. You must want to be in this course, and want the part-online experience. Just as many excellent instructors may not be effective online facilitators, not all students possess the necessary qualities to perform well online.

  1. Get organized -- you'll need lots of self-discipline. With the freedom and flexibility of the online environment comes responsibility. Online learning requires discipline to keep up with the flow. Check your e-mail daily and the class site on Blackboard at least three times a week. Devise a schedule of what days and what times you will “go” to class. Calendarize assignment due-dates, when you will be working online, and when you will be working offline. I do not post assignments in the announcements.

    Online is not easier than the traditional educational process. In fact, many students will say it requires much more time and commitment. Spread your workload into daily sessions rather than trying to complete everything in one day.
  2. Communicate effectively online.
    • Be open to share life, work, and educational experiences as part of the learning process. The discussion board forums are where a lot of the learning takes place. Make sure to interact often, review classmates' posts, ask questions, and share your learning.
    • Ensure you know how to communicate in writing -- or get help right away. In the online classroom, most communication is written, with significantly more reading and writing online. It is critical that you are comfortable writing in a professional style. When writing e-mail or a discussion board post, don't lapse into an informal writing style -- you're being evaluated! I expect all writing to be clear, concise, and specific. Use topic sentences and don't allow paragraphs to wander. Support your claims with material from the readings, logical reasoning, and/or experience.
    • Speak up if problems arise. Many of the non-verbal communication mechanisms that I use to assess student challenges are not possible in the online paradigm. If you experience difficulty on any level (either with the technology or with the course content), communicate this immediately. Otherwise I will never know what is wrong.
  3.   Get the technology. Make sure you have access to a computer with a stable broadband Internet connection. Lack of a computer or Internet access is not an excuse for submitting late assignments. If you do not have a computer or an Internet connection, drop this course. Find out immediately how to access your e-mail account and Blackboard (blackboard.umbc.edu). 
  4. Do ALL of the assignments -- whether or not they are graded. 
  5. Be proactive. If you have questions or concerns, e-mail me or ask your classmates.
  6. Don't do the bare minimum. “A” students go above and beyond the minimum requirements. Fewer than half my students earn "A's".
  7. Be a good group member. Take a turn being the Captain; respond to your learning group's emails and help each other succeed. Think: how can I help my teammates learn?
  8. Practice critical thinking (this does not mean, "be a critic". It means, think about the "why" and "how" of different situations.) Don't give answers you believe are expected but rather use your creativity to devise your own answers.
  9. Think ideas through before responding to discussion postings. Meaningful, quality input into the virtual classroom is essential to learning. Test and challenge ideas respectfully and be prepared to accept a challenge.
  10. Believe that high quality learning can take place outside the traditional classroom. If you believe a traditional classroom is a prerequisite to learning, this may not be the right course for you.

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Original Source: Tanya Joosteen, Sloan-Consortium; revised for use by Illysa Izenberg, UMBC