Becoming a Successful Online Student

How to Stay Organized

The following method of organizing time helps students establish long term, intermediate, and short-term time goals.

Long Term Schedule: Construct a schedule of your fixed commitments only. These include only obligations you are required to meet every week, e.g., job hours, classes, church, organization meetings, etc.

Intermediate Schedule - One per week: Now make a short list of MAJOR EVENTS and AMOUNT OF WORK to be accomplished in each subject this week. This may include non-study activities. For example:

  • Collaborate discussion Monday night
  • Paper outline due Tuesday
  • Child's soccer game Wednesday night
  • Finish 150 pages in philosophy by Friday

These events will change from week to week and it is important to make a NEW LIST FOR EACH WEEK. Sunday night may be the most convenient time to do this. 

Short Term Schedule - One per day: On a small note card each evening before retiring or early in the morning, make out a specific daily schedule. Write down specifically WHAT is to be accomplished. Such a schedule might include:


  • 8:00 - 8:30 Review philosophy
  • 9:30 - 10:30 Preview Methods and prepare for Quiz
  • 4:45 Pick up groceries on way home
  • 7:00 - 10:15 Ch. 5, 6 (Informatics)
  • 10:30 Check email

CARRY THIS CARD WITH YOU and cross out each item as you accomplish it. Writing down things in this manner not only forces you to plan your time but also in effect causes you to make a promise to yourself to do what you have written down.

DLI offers courses that are entirely online, i.e., there are no face-to-face class meetings. While this often adds flexibility for many students who have work schedules, family priorities, and other obligations, potential students often wonder if they are ready for online learning.

Student Responsibilites

Generally, student responsibilities in an online or blended course parallel those encountered in the traditional classroom with some variations given the nature of the course environment. These responsibilities include:

  • Attending the Course Orientation: Whether on-site or online, students must participate in a course orientation to become accustomed to the learning environment in which the course will operate.
  • Reading Course Documents: It is important that students read all course documents (e.g., syllabus, assignments) to become familiar with course expectations. This will allow students the ability to properly plan for all course activities.
  • “Attending” Class: Students must “attend” the online components of a course just as they would a traditional course. Class participation is essential to course success. In an online course, student attendance is considered to be defined as logging into the Learning Management System regularly and participating in all academic activities required by the instructor.
  • Organizing and Managing Time: Courses that have a significant online component may not provide students with as many reminders of course expectations regarding time as do traditional face-to-face courses. Therefore, the student needs to be well organized and must pay careful attention to the course’s schedule and deadlines.
  • Academic Honesty: As with traditional classes, academic honesty is a cornerstone of student online coursework. University of Miami standards of academic honesty and conduct pertain to all online courses taught at the University.
  • Acquiring Needed Materials: Students must obtain all necessary course materials, including required textbooks, lab materials, and course software. In addition, the student may need to access various library resources.
  • Evaluating Computer Setup: Students are responsible for ensuring that they have access to required hardware, software, and an Internet connection. If they plan to use public Internet access (e.g., a public library), they must contact the provider to determine whether the service is a viable option. Since all online and blended courses utilize UM email accounts as a primary means of communication, students must be comfortable using their UM email account.
  • Students have the responsibility of maintaining the security of their usernames, passwords, and personally identifiable information.
  • Staying in Contact: Student interaction with peers and the instructor is just as important in an online or blended course as it is in the traditional classroom. Students must take advantage of all the communication options that are available in the course (e.g., email, discussion boards, chat areas) to facilitate learning and complete projects.

Beginning Your Course

  • At the beginning of the course, make sure you understand course requirements and expectations in regards to completion of course material, activities and online participation. Estimate how much time per week you will need to spend on the course.
  • Generally, students should expect to study about 2 to 3 hours for each credit hour.
  • Schedule yourself, and stick to an assignment schedule, that coincides with the course syllabus deadlines, or that is negotiated with your instructor.
  • Schedule yourself daily/weekly for course communications for
  • Student interaction/peer learning via discussion groups, chat, case studies, etc. Often you will be required to work on group projects or case studies, whether at one location or through Blackboard.
  • Feedback to the instructor:Your feedback to the instructor is critical to the success of your online course experience and to the improvement of the overall quality of the course. Students are encouraged to provide regular feedback to the instructor on course material, assignments, progress or any other issue.

Throughout Your Course

  • Create a study routine.If at all possible, try to study at the same time each day. Having regular hours at least five days a week will make it easier to habitually follow the schedule and to maintain an active approach to study.
  • Space out your study periods.Fifty to ninety minutes of study at a time for each course works best. Relaxation periods of ten or fifteen minutes should be scheduled between study periods. It is more efficient to study hard for a definite period of time, and then stop for a few minutes, than attempt to study on indefinitely.
  • Plan for weekly reviews.At least one hour each week for each class (distinct from study time) should be scheduled. The weekend is a good time for review.
  • Leave some unscheduled time for flexibility.Students often tend to over-schedule themselves.
  • Leave time for recreation.
  • Do not wait until the last minute to complete assignments- many of these will require research, which is something that cannot be done properly in a short space of time. Set several smaller study goals - if you have been given a task that you find overwhelming, break it down into smaller parts.
  • Make use of small windows of time that appear during your day. For example, an hour between classes is sufficient time to do something useful such as reading a chapter of a book, reviewing notes you have taken in a lecture. Do not be tempted to ALWAYS spend this time having coffee chatting to your friends.
  • Give yourself rewards to keep you motivated

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