Online class success can be challenging

With the Spring 2011 semester nearing its end, fun in the sun is quickly replacing study in the shade. Perhaps you have a class you need to take in the summer or want to get a head start on assembling your fall schedule.

The summer semester shows more than 190 online courses available. That number jumps to more than 320 classes in the fall.

An online course may seem like an easy way to enjoy this summer without getting stuck in a class, but hidden pitfalls like time management and chapter readings can make your online experiment a failure.

To avoid the pitfalls, here are five ways to survive your online learning experience.

Get ready for ANGEL

OCCC has the Student Online Readiness Tool (SORT) available to prospective online learners. Provided by the University System of Georgia, SORT is a program developed to give students an idea of what to expect when taking a class online.

Each answer is evaluated and provides helpful insight into the demands of online learning. SORT can be found at by clicking the “Student Online Readiness Tool” link.

Next, become familiar with OCCC’s online learning program, ANGEL. There is an ANGEL Orientation available at MineOnline login information is required.

Find a Professor

Even online, there is some variance to teaching methods. A website like will help you learn more about the professor you are considering.

Complete with an OCCC page, the site allows visitors to search professors by name or department. Professors are graded on a scale from 0 to 5 in the categories of easiness, helpfulness and clarity with a bonus selection of a red pepper to indicate the professor’s “hotness.”

Understand the Syllabus

At the beginning of each semester a typical professor will stand before the class and explain the coarse syllabus. Paying attention can be optional because the professors will repeat themselves as the semester wears on.

Online the syllabus does the same thing except now it is the only means of communicating the expectations for the course. It is important that students understand what their professors expect.

“In geography, I didn’t go through the syllabus,” said sophomore engineering major Sagar Sharma. “Look at the course material as soon as possible because each class is different.”

Communicating with professors through e-mail also is necessary, Sharma said. If something in the course doesn’t make sense or is not addressed, ask the professor. .

Build a Classroom

The allure of taking a test in your pajamas may seem ingenious, but don’t be fooled. Just because it can be done doesn’t mean it should.

“I did a lot better studying in areas besides my house,” said psychology major Victoria Potvin.

“For some reason at my house I’d just get distracted really easily.”

Find a quiet coffee shop or diner where you can study uninterrupted. If paying four bucks for a latte is not sensible, create a home study space where diversions like television, roommates or children don’t distract.

In addition to removing outside distractions, close the social media in your web browser.

Study on a Schedule

Much of online learning is centered on time management. If you don’t make study time, you can’t expect to succeed. Schedule times to study so you’re not always “cramming” for each test.

“In the first couple weeks you go ‘Oh well, it’s an online class. I can just do it whenever’ and then you forget and realize you should’ve read two chapters last week,” Potvin said.

An organized study calendar can keep you focused because that schedules life around class.

Google has free calendars available online to users who create a Google account.

The calendars can be customized with categorized and color-coded events so you can stay on task.

Sophomore biology major Roxanne Johnson said she would devote a day to her online classes instead of spreading her studies over several days.

“If you don’t keep up with it, it’s hard to catch back up,” Johnson said.

“Don’t fall off track.”

For more information about online learning, visit the their website at

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