Making the Most of Your Online Class

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Written by James D'Annibale

Note About Headsets

It is a good idea to get a decent headset for if you need to meet online using web-conferencing. The one I use is a Logitech available on Amazon.


Online classes can be very challenging but also very rewarding. I have completed a completely online masters degree and am working on another one. I know how to be a successful online student and a lot of my work at Wilson College is dedicated to making sure your professors put you in a position to succeed. I am very interested in learning more about your experiences with our online courses. Please email me at if you’d like to share your successes, frustrations, etc. I am here to help. What you’ll find in the rest of this guide is just a collection of tips that I think will help you succeed.

Know How to Get Help

It is important to know where you should go or who you should talk to if you need help.

Know the Expectations

Just like you do in a face-to-face class, read the syllabus several times. Pay particularly close attention to the list of assignments and when they are due. Then look at the week to week schedule if there is one. Most professors prefer a routine for their units. An example could be:

  1. Post to a discussion board by Wednesday night
  2. Reply to 2 classmates by Sunday night
  3. Submit your quiz or assignment also by Sunday night.

Set Your Own Routine

It is important that you get into a routine and set up your calendar. There isn’t a physical classroom that you must go to every week so you need to stay on top of your work. You can use your Canvas calendar or print a blank calendar. Whatever system you use, mark down what you will accomplish each day of the course and then stick to it as much as you can. Here is a typical week for the class I am taking right now:

Example Weekly Routine
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Read & Review materials Post to Discussion Work on Research Paper Reply to peers on Discussion Study for Quiz & Check back in on Discussions Take and Submit Quiz Forget I'm even in school and be with family and friends.





Get to Know Your Classmates

You may not physically meet with your classmates, but having a sense of community is very powerful for students. If your professor does the obligatory “Introduce Yourself” discussion board, take time to really read those and see if there are any classmates that would make good study partners.

Create a Study Group

Just like with a face-to-face class, it’s good to have a group of classmates to study with, bounce ideas off of, ask questions, etc. You can do this in an online class and it’s actually easier than in a face-to-face class. In a face-to-face, you have to find a place to meet. With an online class, you just meet in Canvas using Conferences. If you do not see Conferences in your course, please email so I can reach out to your professor to ask him/her to open it to you.

Interact With Your Professor

I recommend to professors that they proactively engage with you. If they don’t do that, force the issue. If you have questions, contact your professor. If you are struggling, contact your professor. If you are doing well, contact your professor. If you need to meet, use Conferences just like with a study group.

I once had someone tell me she couldn’t get letters of recommendation from faculty because she took all online classes. That’s just an excuse. You can have just as good of a relationship with online faculty as you can with face-to-face faculty.

Use Media

If your professor allows it, don’t be afraid to use the Rich Content Editor to embed media into your discussions, assignments, etc.


I wanted to keep this short so that you might actually read it. If you are interested in learning more about being an online student or if you’d like to learn how to use various technology tools, please email