Online & Distance Education

The following resources provide information for students who primarily enroll in online or distance education courses. Please contact the Academic Success Center if you would like to discuss via phone how to incorporate these strategies into your daily schedule. 


Self-management is a key skill for college students--particularly those who enroll in online classes. Self-management involves setting goals and managing your time in a way that will promote success. It can also prevent excess stress and provide you opportunity to enjoy your daily experiences. Below are information and tools to help students maintain a healthy balance of school and life.

Checklist Before Beginning an Online Course:

  1. Confirm Technical Requirements. Make sure your computer works with all the necessary programs, you know how to navigate them, and you have a consistent workspace in your home or office. These steps will help you be ready for day one of class.
  2. Connect with Instructors Early. It's extremely important to stay in contact with your instructor. You may be able to receive helpful feedback or suggestions that will save you time in the long run.
  3. Create a Schedule. Consider dedicating two-to-three hour time blocks to log in and complete assignments. Online courses require you to display self-management and accountability. These are essential to your success because you are not attending lecture in a formalized classroom.
  4. Talk About Your Course with Others. A key difference of online courses is the lack of face-to-face discussion with classmates and instructors. Discuss what you are learning with friends, family, or colleagues. The more you discuss the material, the more you become invested in the knowledge.

Tips for Online Discussions

  • Understand the Requirements. Take time to understand what is expected of you as a result of participation in the course. Dedicate time each week to meet these expectations.
  • Understand the Questions. Make sure you understand what is being asked of you to discuss. Is the instructor asking for your opinion, your feedback, or a summary? Read your responses carefully to ensure your post is both relevant and appropriate to the discussion.
  • Be Timely and Involved. Your attitude can dictate your enjoyment in the course and online discussion with peers. You may learn a lot from your peers who are also communicating on the online boards!
  • Use Proper Netiquette (Internet Etiquette). The way you treat others online should be the same way you would treat someone face-to-face. Make sure you are responding to others with respect, making meaningful contributions, and being conscious of the tone of your message.

Tips for Online Group Work

  • Communicate Consistently. Initiate communication as soon as the group is established via Blackboard, email or other means. Introduce yourself to others and establish a plan to accomplish the group project.
  • Understand the Assignment. Ask questions for clarification.  Make sure everyone is on the same page before beginning the project.
  • Establish Roles. Understand the role of each group member. Set reasonable and clearly-defined expectations for each role. Decide upon a group leader.
  • Assign Tasks. Decide on an individual who will compile all of the work. Decide on who will submit the project to the instructor. Break up the project into small pieces so everyone is involved and contributing.
  • Recognize Group Contributions. Acknowledge other's work and effort put forth to your project. This helps create a sense of community and will enhance everyone's experience in the online classroom.
Source: Boise State University