The first thing that you should know when taking an online class is why you are taking an online class in the first place. Is it just convenience? Or is it the only way that you can take the class? Moreover, you should know how it ties into your greater educational goal. Are you taking classes because of personal interest, or do they relate to an educational or career goal. Bottom line is that there should be a good reason for you to take an online class-you are the one that is going to have motivate yourself in an online class; subtle hints from the teacher and the peer pressure that exist in the traditional classrooms do not exist in the online world. If you disappear for weeks, or do not turn in your assignments, no one is going to notice; you have to be a self-starter to do online classes, able to keep your own nose pressed to the grindstone. So if you are satisfied that you can keep yourself on track, by all means take an online class.
So what should you do to succeed in the online class world?
First you should log into the site as soon as you get your log-on information. Make sure that you install any required programs and plug-ins, so that your system is compatible with the class site. And make sure that you schedule some time during business hours during the first couple of days of the class just in case you do have log-in problems, you don’t want to start late in an online class.
Second, explore the site. Find the syllabus and schedule, read them-in fact, you want to print out a copy. Know when your assignments are due. Locate the discussion board and the chat room (if applicable). Figure out how you are supposed to send messages to the instructor.
Obtain and familiarize yourself with your textbook. In many classes, the only source of instruction (unless you ask questions) will be the textbook; the teacher in many classes being there to just grade assignments and give you credit for what you are teaching yourself.
Whenever possible write your assignments in a program on your computer, and not online. The internet has a nasty habit of crashing; if you are writing an assignment online when it happens, your work will be lost. If the right-click copy and paste does not work on the class site, try CTRL C (copy) and CTRL V (paste) instead.
Make backup copies of all your work, including test answers (as you submit them) and discussions comments.
Most importantly, keep up with the scheduled assignments. Allow yourself plenty of time to complete them. If you are allowed four hours to complete an online test, assume that it is going to take you four hours to complete it.
In summary, know the class site, keep up with the assignments, and backup all your work.