eLearning Success
Additional Navigation

eLearning Success

To achieve success in an eLearning class as compared to a traditional course, you must be substantially more self-motivated, assertive, and willing to learn independently. Generally, you must be able to generate your own enthusiasm and excitement about learning the material. This is particularly true when people around you (at home or elsewhere) are all doing something else. This is in no way to discourage you from enrolling in an eLearning course, but to make sure you are aware of the potential personal challenges you may be faced with because ultimately we want you to have a successful eLearning experience.

Is eLearning right for you?

Ultimately, in an online class, you are responsible for your own success. Therefore, students who are organized and enjoy working on a computer, do well online. You must be able to work well independently and have the internal drive to succeed. How are you at the following?

  • Effective Time Management
  • Dealing with technical problems
  • Keeping track of assignments and due dates
  • Communicating formally as much as possible (See Netiquette for more information)

In an eLearning course, etiquette is just as important as in a traditional course, but online, the evidence of poor manners lasts much longer.

  1. Treat your instructor with respect, even in email or any other online communication
  2. Always use your instructor’s proper title: Dr. or Prof., or, if you are in doubt, use Mr. or Ms. unless specially invited to refer to them by their first name.
  3. Use clear and concise language. Be respectful of readers’ time and attention.
  4. Remember that ALL college-level communication should have correct spelling and grammar, so avoid slang terms such as “wassup?” and texting abbreviations such as “u” instead of “you.”
  5. Avoid using the caps lock feature AS IT CAN BE INTERPRETED AS YELLING!
  6. Limit and possibly avoid the use of emoticons. Not everyone knows how to interpret them.
  7. Be cautious when using humor, especially sarcasm, as the tone is sometimes lost in an email or discussion post and your message or post may be taken literally or offensively.
  8. Be careful sharing personal information online (both yours and other’s).
  9. In a discussion forum, always be respectful of others’ opinions even then they differ from your own. When you disagree with someone, you should express your differing opinion in a respectful, non-critical way. In other words, don’t make personal or insulting remarks.
  10. Think before sending an email to more than one person. Does everyone really need to see your message? In other words, do you REALLY want everyone to receive your response when you click, “reply all.”

“Netiquette Guidelines for Online Courses | The Center.” 3 Feb. 2020, osuit.edu/center/online-student-resources/netiquette.php.

Discussion Board Netiquette

For more information about Netiquette, please visit the Core Rules of Netiquette.

eLearning classes offer an alternative method for completing your educational requirements while maintaining your busy life. However, the freedom from having to be in a specific place at specific times does not mean that you don’t need to devote the same amount of time, it instead means you must be more disciplined and more accurate in budgeting your time. A traditional course has more of a “sit and get” mentality, where you come to class and get what the instructor gives you. In an eLearning class, you much seek it out. It will take time for you to read and fully understand the information provided in an eLearning course, write out questions for your instructor, and complete other eLearning tasks. Therefore, if your learning style is predominately auditory (learning through listening), you may find the eLearning class particularly challenging, though not impossible. Also, recognize that if you want to become involved in the course, which you should, you must be more “proactive” in seeking out positive interactions with your fellow students and with your instructor.


When trying to figure out how much time is spent in an eLearning class vs. a face-to-face class, generally, it is about the same, if you take into consideration the time spent in class plus the time spent doing homework, reading, etc.  Remember, though, in an eLearning class, if you don’t read the material, there will not be anyone there to read it to you, as is often the case in a face-to-face class.

Some important things to have and do, especially in eLearning classes that you may take, are:


  • Read Carefully – Classes held on campus rely heavily on instructor verbal directions and presentations. For some classes, students can get by with just skimming over reading assignments. In an eLearning class, reading every word of the directions and assignments is essential. The advice about reading all directions and the syllabus (in this class, the course guide) is quite possibly the most important thing you can do to become a successful eLearning learner. If the directions are not clear to you after you have read them, post clarification questions in the discussion forum immediately! The syllabus includes what you will learn, what you will do, and what is expected of you (policies) as a member of the community in the class.


  • Get Organized! – Successful eLearning students stress the importance of creating a calendar to record all major due dates and class schedule information. If you are enrolled in more than one eLearning class, consider using a different color for each class. One eLearning student suggests to “make appointments with yourself” to ensure you dedicate time in your schedule to complete course assignments. If you were taking a face-to-face class, you would be scheduled to be in a seat in a classroom on a campus at a set day and time, so do the same for yourself—make that appointment with you and then be diligent about keeping it. You should also make sure that you have a place to work that allows you to be focused and not distracted. You will be completing an assignment in this unit that is designed to help you get organized (the “Sizing up the Work” assignment).


  • Participate – Because of the reduced amount of verbal interactions between students and the instructor in an eLearning course, eLearning “discussion” is often accomplished through discussion boards, email, and web conferencing (like Google Hangouts). Students should be comfortable communicating eLearning and should be aware of accepted standards in “netiquette.” In fact, there is a direct correlation between a student’s success in an eLearning course and that student’s participation. DO NOT underestimate the importance of contributing to eLearning discussions. It’s easy to feel isolated in eLearning environments. Try to participate in meet-up and social media opportunities as you work through any eLearning class. There is a social media link in the menu bar for this course where you can organize or participate in a meet-up in your area.


  • Log-In Regularly – Successful eLearning students recommend logging in several times a week to check for instructor announcements and to stay connected to, and participate in, discussion board conversations.


  • DO NOT Procrastinate! – When you are relying heavily on technology, expect failures and connection challenges. Waiting until the last minute increases these risks and puts your grades in jeopardy. Additionally, you will never fully understand how long an assignment or project will take until you do it. Waiting until the last day/hour/minute is poor planning and reduces your chances of learning successfully and performing well on assessments.


  • Be Persistent – Remember that we are all working in a fairly new environment. If you run into any difficulties, don’t wait! Send a note immediately to the instructor of the course listed on the syllabus. Most problems are easily solved, but we have to hear from you before we can help.


  • Share Tips, Helps, and Questions – For many of us, taking eLearning courses is a new frontier. There are no dumb questions, and even if you think your solution is obvious, please share it! Someone in the class will appreciate it. You can do this in the help discussion forum.

Excerpted and edited from “Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade” by Mt. San Jacinto College, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Is taking an online class a good fit for you? Learning through an online class requires different skills than learning in a face-to-face class. It’s important to know what you’re getting into and to understand the kind of commitment that’s necessary for success in online learning. You can get a good idea of your readiness for online learning by filling out the following assessment.


This assessment is for informational purposes only and is not required for enrollment. For additional help figuring out whether an online class is a worthwhile option for you, consult with your academic advisor.


Instructions: On a piece of paper, make two columns and represent each of the rows in the table below. For each row in the table below, choose the side that best describes you and put the number of points in that column. When you are finished, total each column and read the guidelines for interpreting the score below.

I am comfortable and proficient at creating, saving, locating, and opening different types of files on a computer.


I am not comfortable or proficient working with files on a computer.

I have reliable access to a high-speed Internet connection (DSL, cable, apt, etc)


I have regular access only to a dial-up modem for Internet access.

I know how to check my official csustan.edu email account and I can access it regularly to check for new messages.


I have never checked my official sheltonstate.edu email account.

I have access to a webcam and microphone for simple multimedia participation.


I do not have a webcam and microphone, or I will need to borrow those things.

I have no problem retaining information if I read it.


I retain information better if I hear it spoken directly to me.

I am comfortable using online discussion forums.


I have never really posted messages to an online forum before.

I am usually able to stay on task and avoid distractions (texting, Facebook) while studying.


I get distracted easily while studying and need a lot of time to accomplish my work.

I am very good at planning and managing my time so that my work is on time and complete.


I am ok with time management but have had to ask professors for extensions in the past.

Setting aside a regular 5-8 hours per week to devote to an online class is possible for me.


It's hard for me to predict when I'll be able to do the online work. Besides, I thought you could do the work whenever you wanted...right?

I have little or no trouble expressing myself in writing using formal grammar and spelling.


I have found using formal grammar and spelling to be a challenge in expressing myself.

I am comfortable learning through individual reading and study.


I usually need direct explanation by an instructor and face-to-face interaction with peers to feel comfortable learning material.

I can learn from a variety of formats (lectures, videos, podcasts, online discussion/conferencing).


My learning style usually requires a structured lecture at its core.

I know how to login to Blackboard and I am familiar with using the most common tools.


I have little or no experience accessing and using Blackboard.

I have my own relatively new computer (2-3 years old)onto which I can install any additional software necessary for the course.


My computer is 5-7 years old.


I use the computer labs on campus or someone else's to do my work.

If I can't figure out something, I am comfortable asking my classmates or the instructor for help via email, discussion board, or chat.


Meeting with my professor in person to ask questions is more comfortable for me.

Online is good choice


Online may not be a good choice

Interpreting the Results

A total score of 17 or higher in the right-hand column is a strong indication that you will likely face more challenges than may be desired in an online class. While online may not be the best choice at the moment, if you are still interested in being an online student, you should understand some of the challenges and what you need to do to overcome them. A page hosted by the Illinois Online Network has some good discussion: What Makes a Successful Online Student.


Questions that are weighted “3” and “4” in the center column address crucial study skills needed for an online class. The most successful online students will have answered all of those questions in the left-hand column (regardless of what their total score happens to be) or will work to address them over the course of the semester.


Questions weighted “1” and “2” are also important for an online class, but many of the topics they address are things that don’t automatically block a student’s academic success in the class or can be remedied once the class begins.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

This material was created by Glenn Pillsbury at Stanislaus State and published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at https://www.csustan.edu/teach-online/online-readiness-self-assessment.