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Instructional Systems Development


Tips for Online Success


Approach to the program

Take the program and yourself seriously.

Elicit the support of your colleagues, family and friends before you start out on your online adventure. This built-in support system will help you tremendously since there will be times when you will have to sit at your computer for hours at a stretch in the evenings and on weekends. When most people are through with work and want to relax is most likely when you will be bearing down on your course work. It helps to surround yourself with people who understand and respect what you are trying to do.



Log on to your course several times a week.

This way you will be able to see who has commented on your postings and read the feedback of your instructors and peers. It may seem like a lot, but once you get the hang of the Discussion Board, you can quickly review the newest postings. If you let too many days go by without logging on to your class discussion, you may get behind and find it difficult to catch up.


Whether you are working alone, or in a group, contribute your ideas, perspective and comments on the subject you are studying, and read about those of your classmates. Your instructor is not the only source of information in your course—you can gain great insight from your peers, and they can learn from you as well.

Apply what you learn.

Apply everything you learn as you learn it and you will remember it more readily. If it is possible, take the things you learn in your online course today and use them in your workplace tomorrow. Also, try to make connections between what you are learning and what you do or will do in your job. Contributing advice or ideas about the real world as it applies to the subject matter you are studying helps you to internalize what you are learning, and gives valuable insight to your classmates who will benefit from your experience.



Actively keep in contact with your instructor.

Instructors are available by phone and e-mail. Some may even keep regular online office hours. Contact your instructor regularly, especially when you have trouble understanding course content.

Be willing to initiate a call or personal e-mail if you need assistance.

Take advantage of your online anonymity.

One of the biggest advantages of the online format is that you can pursue your studies without the judgments typical in a traditional classroom. Unless you are using video conferencing, no one can see you – there are no stereotypes, and you don’t have to be affected by nonverbal reactions to your contributions. You don’t have to feel intimidated or upstaged by other students, and you can take all of the time you need to think your ideas through and compose a response before posting your comments to your class.

Speak up if you are having problems.

Our instructors are dedicated to helping you succeed, but you must remember that they cannot see you. If you are having technical difficulties or problems understanding something about the course, you must speak up or no one will know that something is wrong. What’s more, if you don’t understand something, chances are several people have the same question. You not only help yourself, but others as well. In contacting your instructors, be absolutely explicit with your comments and requests, as they will not be able to pick up on any other communication clues.

Use the resources that are available to you.

Find out where the Help sections are located for computer related problems, for online resources, and especially where updates to assignments will be posted. If you don't know how to use them, ASK. Your instructor or the Office of Information Technology should be able to help you through any difficulties you may encounter.


Approach to study

Read the course syllabus early and often.

The syllabus generally contains all the information a student needs to progress through an online course.

Identify the tools required to complete the course.

Make sure you have access to all of the technology required to take the course. Be aware of the course schedule/deadlines, and stay on track.

Develop a regular schedule for studying and doing assignments.

Set interim goals and deadlines.

Keep a calendar showing the number of weeks in the term and mark the assignments due and tests to take each week. Stick to the schedule and don't fall behind in your work!

Allow enough time before a deadline to work through any technical issues associated with posting assignments.

Find study partners.

Distance learning students sometimes feel that they are missing interaction with other students that they might find in a traditional classroom environment. Identify an individual or small group of people to study with.

Evaluate your progress regularly.

Re-read the course objectives and your schedule of goals to see how you are progressing with them.

Make sure you have a private space where you can study.

Since you won’t have a classroom to anchor your learning experience, it is important to have a physical space uniquely dedicated to study where you can organize your thinking and your work. It also demonstrates a commitment to what you are trying to accomplish.


Relaxation techniques can benefit learning in a number of ways including heightening concentration and lessening anxiety. Try taking deep breaths, stretching or soothing music to help you relax while studying.


10 Ways to Ensure Distance Learning Success
from E-Learn Magazine

Distance learning students must take a far more active role in learning and accessing information than traditional students in face-to-face classrooms. Written messages or posts from the professor and classmates replace other means of direct communication, and course materials are posted online. Rather than simply sitting through a class and jotting notes, you must take the initiative to download and read lectures and course materials.

As a distance learning student, you will find that being pro-active and engaged in your personal learning experience will pay off in good grades and depth of learning. Read More