Succeeding Online

Online Learning: Today’s Approach to Education

Online Learning is an interesting and exciting way to learn new material in a less structured approach.

  • Work at the time of day that is convenient for you.
  • Save gas and work “green!”
  • You are usually not required to attend classes on campus, but you will be expected to spend as much time and effort weekly as a traditional student.

Tips for Success

Tip #1:

When it comes to managing your study time, plan on being self‐disciplined and self‐motivated.

Online courses offer students convenient access to courses and flexibility in their schedule, but in order to succeed as an online student you must be self‐disciplined and self‐motivated. You won’t have the benefit of regularly scheduled, face‐to‐face class meetings to keep you motivated and on track.

Tip #2

Be prepared to complete most of your online course work in written form.

Are you comfortable communicating in writing? Chances are that most of your online course work will be done in written form. Online courses often use text‐based discussion boards, chat and e‐mail for communication.

Tip #3

Be prepared to receive most of your online course materials in written form.

Are you a patient and methodical reader? In order to succeed online you should be able to read and process the written course material carefully and thoroughly.

Tip #4

Plan on devoting more time to your online course than you would to a face‐to‐face course.

Be prepared to log on to your course site everyday in order to stay current with the course materials and activities. It’s not unusual for students to devote more time to online courses than they would to face‐to‐face courses.

Tip #5

Make sure you are comfortable using the required technology for your course or else be prepared to acquire new technology skills.

Are you comfortable using a web browser, the Blackboard course management system and word processing software? If not, be prepared to learn how to use these and any other required tools on your own. A great place to start is is the Blackboard Tutorial section provided in the Orientation to Online Learning.

Tip #6

Make sure you have all the necessary hardware and software in place before your course begins.

Before you begin your online course, make sure your computer meets the minimum requirements posted on the Distance Learning website. Check the Technology Requirements section to view configuration recommendations. You’ll also need to make sure you have a reliable Internet connection, DSL or Cable internet is recommended.

Tip #7

Be prepared to ask for help if you are having difficulties.

If you are having difficulties with the course, let your instructor know immediately. If you experience technical problems, contact the WKU Help Desk immediately at or call 270‐745‐7000. ‐ Gilbert, S. D. (2001). How to be a Successful Online Student. New York: McGraw‐Hill.

Online Learning Myths

Myth #1

“Online courses are easier and less work than regular classroom courses.” Not true!


Most require as much work or more than a face‐to‐face course. For example, if you plan to take a math course via online learning because you are not good at math, you are making the wrong choice!

Myth #2

“I won’t have to come on campus at all if I take an online course.”


Most online courses do not require any face‐to‐face meetings, but some do require proctored exams. If proctored exams are required, you will be required to come to the DL Testing Center or an approved testing location in your area. If proctored exams are required please visit to schedule your exam.

Myth #3

“I’m alone in this. I won’t have any contact with an instructor or other students.”


  • As a distance learner you can elect to be part of the AHA Community for Online Learners. The community provides a place for distance students to interact with one another, and communicate with staff at AHA. It also serves as a one‐stop‐shop for information on resources available to distance learners at AHA.
  • Online students at AHA have access to the same resources as on‐campus students, except the services have been tailored to meet your needs, including online tutoring, counseling, career services, disability services and more.
  • All instructors will provide contact information (phone, e‐mail, office hours) so you can stay in touch with them.
  • Technical Support is readily available through the IT Helpdesk. Just call 270‐745‐7000. Video tutorials are also available through the Information Technology website.
  • Online courses have email, discussion forums, and chat rooms so you can be in touch with other students.

Myth #4

“An online course means independent study with no schedule.”


  • Classes begin and end on the same dates as traditional courses.
  • The same university deadlines apply to all semester‐based courses.
  • You will still have to meet deadlines for assignments, take tests within a specified timeframe, and follow other schedules provided for your course.

Characteristics of Students Who Succeed in an Online Environment

  • Self‐starters
  • Self‐motivated
  • Organized
  • Possess strong written communication skills
  • Strong reading skills
  • Willing to ask for help when needed
  • Enjoy discovering information
  • Strong time‐management skills


  • Seek help early! Contact your instructor first.
  • Online Tutoring is available through the Academic Advising and Retention Center
  • Use WKU Libraries for research and assistance with finding the information you need for your next project. Refer to the Library Resources section in the SRC for more information.
  • Use tutorials, textbook websites, and other university resources for distance learners.
  • For general questions contact the Office of Distance Learning