How to Study Online Courses Effectively

Find Out How To Study Online Courses Effectively

From Another Country


An Online degree, program or course is an academic qualification that is earned primarily or entirely through the use of an internet-connected computer or smartphone rather than attending school in a traditional campus setting.

They are designed for students whose commitments and responsibilities would otherwise make it difficult for them to enrol in a full-time education program be it highschool or college. Below are some tips to help you study online from another country effectively without hiccups.

Requirements for Studying Online Effectively

Skills Requirements

Computer Literacy

You need to have a basic knowledge of computer and Internet skills in order to be successful in an online course. Here are the most important ones you can’t do without;

  • Knowledge of terminology, such as browser, IMHO, application, etc.
  • Understanding of basic computer hardware and software; ability to perform computer operations, such as; Using keyboard and mouse
  • Managing files and folders; save, name, copy, move, backup, rename, delete, check properties
    Software installation, security and virus protection
  • Using software applications, such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, email clients
    Knowledge of copying and pasting, spell-checking, saving files in different formats
    Sending and downloading attachments
  • Internet skills (connecting, accessing, using browsers) and ability to perform online research using various search engines and library databases. Visit Distance Library Services for more information.
  • Ability to use online communication tools, such as email (create, send, receive, reply, print, send/receive attachments), discussion boards (read, search, post, reply, follow threads), chats, and messengers.

Strong Reading, Listening and Writing skills

Strong reading, listening and writing skills are a necessity for your success on any online program. You need to be able to read your materials, listen to audios and write exams and tests. Online students communicate through such text-based tools, as emails, discussion forums, chats and instant messaging. You need to feel comfortable expressing yourself in writing. If you have hearing impairment, you can’t do any online program that involves recordings.

Self-motivated and Independent learner

While online courses can offer more flexibility in scheduling, they require more self-discipline and independence than on-campus courses. Some students can find this uncomfortable and not suitable for their learning style. They may miss face-to-face interaction with an instructor and peers, which helps to keep them on track. In the online environment, you have to be able to start and to work on tasks on your own, without someone keeping you focused, and you have to be self-disciplined in order to follow the class schedule and meet deadlines.

Time management; log-in frequently and develop study schedules

How are your time management skills? When it comes to studying online there are a few tips you can employ to make sure you use your time effectively.

Online classes take as much time as regular on-campus classes. You need to set aside sufficient time for study. Plan to spend at least as much time working on the assignments and studying as you would with a traditional course. Note that some students report spending even more time for online classes than for traditional ones. Time that you need to devote to a 3-credit course will be approximately 12 hours a week.

Even though you may not have to “be” in class on some specific day and time, you still have to follow the course schedule provided by your instructor. Remember that online classes are not independent study courses; you are still required to “show up” and participate actively.

Since online courses are asynchronous, they will continue developing and changing even if you are not online. You need to be online frequently enough and log in at least three to four times per week in order to keep up with the content flow, complete assignments, follow discussions and communicate with your classmates and instructor. Some courses may even require you to log in every day.

Never wait until the last minute to complete your assignments. You may have a technical problem or run out of time which will cause frustration. One of the major reasons for failing online classes is procrastination, since it is very easy to fall behind in the online environment. Make sure to set aside specific time on a regular basis to participate in your course. Schedule specific times to log in and to study.

Active learner

Online students must be active learners, self-starters who are not shy or afraid to ask questions when they do not understand. Remember that you, not the instructor, must be in control of your learning process.

Since your instructor cannot see you, you need to “speak up” right away if you have problems and be as explicit as possible; otherwise there is no way others will know that something is wrong.

Remember that your instructor is not the only source of information. Most of the time you will be able to post your question in the discussion forum and your classmates will help you as well.

If you have technical difficulty, problems understanding course content or difficulty meeting the deadline, seek help right away and contact your instructor to make arrangements

Technical Requirements for Studying Online Effectively

Before you start your program, the school will be sent an e-confirmation letter (to the email address they provide upon registration) with a “user ID” and a “password” as well as instructions to access courses. Some courses which may have mandatory group work and mandatory chats where you will be required to be logged into your course at specific times for specified periods of time will be indicated in the course description. This depends on the program and your school of choice, all can’t be the same.

Minimum Technical and Software Requirements for Online Courses;

Computer with Internet Connection

What you will need is constant and reliable internet connection and a computer. High speed broadband access (LAN, Cable or DSL) is highly recommended for the optimal learning experience. Some courses have more advanced system requirements.

A Macintosh or PC system with these minimum requirements;


  • Compatible Operating System: Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1
  • Web Browser: Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer 10 or higher


  • Compatible Operating System: OS X
  • Web Browser: Firefox, Chrome, Safari

Study Online Software

Individual courses have their specific software requirements. This may include video or audio playing software or a specific software application like the ones offered by Khan or Udacity; your school may offer theirs or work in partnership with the aforementioned platforms to offer their programs.

Web Browser, e-mail and even word processing software.
In some instances, it may be necessary for some users to upgrade their Flash or Java versions.

Other Devices

Depending on the learning management system being used to deliver your course, you may access and interact with most course elements, readings, multimedia, email and discussions through tablets and smartphones. While tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices may allow for some completion of coursework, they are not guaranteed to work in all areas. Please ensure you have a PC or Mac based computer available to complete coursework.

We recommend that students do not attempt quizzes when using a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, due to compatibility issues.

Program Requirements 

You should be sure you meet specific course requirements before applying to study online. Make the school you want to enrol with offer the program to suit your lifestyle; some students prefer programs that are affordable, flexible and even offered on their own terms while others are comfortable with fixed online classes and expensive is not offensive. Make sure your program has the necessary accreditation and the school is recognised by the relevant academic boards.



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