Q&A: What Can I Expect From My First Online Class?

Answer: Being a student, less alone an online student, can be overwhelming. If this is your first time being an online learner, you want to start off with the right attitude. Preparation for your first class involves logging on; finding all of the materials and information needed; and introducing yourself to your instructor or peers.

Log Into the Course ASAP.

As soon as you gain access to the class, log in. Some schools allow students to log into their class two-to-three days before it starts. Whether you log in early or on start day, make sure to do so as soon as you can. Once in the class, make sure you are registered for the right course. If so, locate the teacher's name and contact information (e-mail and phone number). Make sure to write this down or put the info in your phone. You never know when you may need to contact your teacher and may not have access to your computer or Internet.

Look Around the Classroom

Become familiar with the classroom and where the following are located online: weekly announcements, syllabus, weekly readings, discussion forums, quizzes and tests, assignments and drop-boxes. Make sure you can access all of these items and anything else you may need in the course.

Post an Introductory Message

Most online classes have a space for a short bio. Make sure to introduce yourself to the class. You should include the state where you live; your academic major; education and career goals. Some people also include basic information on their personal life and/or family (i.e. married, children, hobbies, etc.). You want the class to have a general idea of who you are without sharing anything too personal. If the instructor has posted a bio, send him/her a message letting them know you are looking forward to the class. Also, it's polite to respond to a few of your peers' posts as well.

You are in control of your learning. Teachers deliver the instruction, but it's the student's responsibility to read, study and apply what they've learned. You set the pace for your learning experience. Don't be afraid to ask questions and be prepared to be an active participant.

Dr. Beverley BrowningDr. Beverly A. Browning (Dr. Bev) has been a higher education adjunct faculty member for over 25 years. She has taught in the classroom and online for multiple colleges and universities including Spring Arbor College, Baker College of Flint, Mott Community College, and Rio Salado College. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Spring Arbor College and Mott Community College. She is currently an online instructor for ed2go.com (Cengage Learning). In addition to founding and directing the Grant Writing Training Foundation, Dr. Bev is also Vice President of Grants Professional Services for eCivis, Inc. She is the author over over 37 grant-related publications and a frequent keynote speaker and workshop presenter for national and regional conferences. Dr. Bev is a product of lifelong learning and an advocate for online teaching and learning!