Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Introduction to web courses

In many ways, learning online is similar to learning in the classroom. Your instructor will provide quality readings, exercises, assignments, and quizzes; as with regular classes, what you get out of it is related to how much you put into it. Expect to spend the same amount of time and energy on an online class; in fact, online classes can take more time and energy than regular classes.

However, online learning is also different in several distinct ways. Click on each to learn more:

Work and study habits

Online classes are convenient and flexible but students have to be disciplined enough to make time to study and participate. Successful online students:

  • Log in regularly to their classes, usually at least three times per week
  • Plan to ensure enough time to study and complete assignments
  • Take notes as they study
  • Commit 6 – 9 hours per week per three-credit class
  • Enjoy communicating in writing and reading the writing of others
  • Are able to work with others via email and chat to complete projects
  • Reach out to their instructors when problems arise

Online interactions are often an essential element of the learning experience. Be willing to share your ideas, carefully consider your responses to others, and be prepared to have your ideas challenged occasionally.

Effective learning styles

Online learning is best for those who learn by reading and writing; if you learn better by hearing lectures or making presentations, an on-campus class might be a better fit. Successful online students:

  • Are active learners who are willing to take responsibility for their own learning
  • Are visual learners able to learn easily from reading and writing. If you learn best by hearing the instructor, you may want to consider an on-campus class or hybrid class.
Necessary skill set

The instructor can not see their students and won’t know if you are confused, bored, or frustrated unless you are willing to talk to her/him about it. Successful online students:

  • Know how to use technology properly to communicate with support staff, classmates, and instructors.
  • Read and write well. Students with weaknesses in these areas can get remedial help or consider classroom learning.
  • Are comfortable addressing problems at online. Online students need to be assertive in order to make their needs known.
  • Have good time management skills, and the ability to create and follow a schedule for finishing readings and assignments.
  • Have solid research skills, and know how to effectively use the Internet.
  • Have the ability to work well cooperatively, even when your communication is restricted to email or online chat.

Two important qualities of a successful online learner are flexibility and adaptability. Learning online is an adventure that will expose you to some entirely new – and not always comfortable – experiences. The ability to be flexible and remain open minded is critical to having a positive experience as you move into uncharted territory.