Tips for Being Successful in an Online Course


For several semesters, I have asked online students who previously completed the course to draft a letter to a future online student describing a single assignment from the course, and telling them a strategy they used to be successful in the assignment, or, looking back, a strategy they learned after completing it that could have made them more successful if they had followed it. You can view a past student letter below as an example:

Hello future Writing 102 Student, my name is Kristen Black, and I have some advice to give you that I wish I would have had when the semester started. The analysis assignment, to me, was the most difficult, probably because it was our first assignment, so I found it difficult to know how we would be graded and what Mr. Watkins expected from us. The biggest piece of advice I have is to make sure the analysis of your topic goes beyond the surface. The purpose of the assignment is to provide a new perspective, and that cannot be done if only a summary of the work is provided. Write about what the genre you analyzed made you think or connections with life today. My writing did not dive too deep into the underlying meanings of the text, so my grade suffered for that. The best way to ensure this is done is take a step back from the essay for a while or let someone else read it. I tried finishing my paper in one sitting because I thought it would be simple, so it was difficult to see the big picture when I had been looking at something for so long. However, when I let other people read it they could point out to me if my analysis was incomplete. The people in my section where great at providing corrective criticism and suggestions for adding content. I would assume this applies to most sections, so use those people because they want to succeed as well. The writing center also has people available to read over your paper if classmates cannot. Mr. Watkins also answered every question I had no matter how silly they seemed. Basically there is a whole team of people on campus to help ensure essays go beyond a surface analysis. I hope that the advice I gave is able to help you be successful in Writing 102.

Video Letters:

I’ve also had students record themselves reading their letters aloud. Transcripts for the below videos are linked here.

Organizing for Online Success

The Online Learning Initiative (OLI) designed a helpful interactive module to help make online students for succeed in a fully online classroom.