Skip to main contentSkip to main navigationSkip to footer content

Online Course Success Tips

Before you begin your online course

  • Determine whether the on-line learning environment is appropriate for you.
  • Check your technology. Please refer to the separate Technology Requirements' web page.

During your online course

Spend time early in the course (pre-week 1) exploring all of its parts

  • Review the syllabus. Print a copy, or save a copy on your mobile devices so that you can have access to it at anytime.
  • Make sure you mark all the due dates on your calendar so you will not miss any assignments.
  • Attain any required materials early. If your online course requires textbooks or other materials, buy or get a copy of them BEFORE class starts so you do not fall behind on your assignments.

Budget your time, set schedules and complete work on time

  • Online courses are a convenient way to fit your education into an already busy life. Make sure to block off a regular time to complete the course readings, activities and/or assignments. 
  • Work ahead when you can. Do not procrastinate.
  • For new online students it often takes a few weeks to get into a pattern. It is very normal that your first online class will feel a bit overwhelming but you will find that setting a specific time period to work on your class will keep you on track. Your confidence will build over time.

Introduce yourself to your professor and classmates

  • Since in-person communication is not an option, please make use of SXU Canvas Discussion and inbox message to communicate with fellow students and professors.
  • Usually each online course will have an introduction discussion at the first week. Post your academic and personal experience there and maintain your personality when expressing your opinions. Find ways to add humor, empathy and/or your own experiences.
  • Use complete sentences, including proper grammar and spelling. Avoid chat type text shortcuts or acronyms/abbreviations without giving a context.

Participation is key

  • Participation can be as simple as logging in to the course every day (or on a regular basis) to make sure you stay on track of deadlines, discussions and workloads. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to catch up.

Be polite, respectful and patient

  • Being polite and respectful is not only common sense; it is absolutely essential for a productive and supportive online environment. In a positive online environment, you will be able to express your thoughts and opinions openly and feel your contribution has been valued by both your classmates and by your instructor.
  • Online courses are dependent on technology, which can be unpredictable; therefore, you will most likely encounter some technological issues along the way. Some web-based tools take longer to load and some documents may need more time to display. Try to be patient.

Maintain honesty and integrity

  • Saint Xavier University encourages students to make ethical decisions, to act with integrity in word and deed, and to serve the common good.
  • Avoid plagiarism. Please express yourself using your own words. When using someone else's words to help describe or support your point use quotes and credit your source.

Protect your data

  • When you post a discussion, please create it in a word processor and save it. Sometimes the Internet connection may not be stable when you are posting your thoughts. Take advantage of spelling and grammar checks when drafting your messages using the word processor.
  • Backup your data in several places, such as cloud space (Dropbox, Google Drive) or hard drive so you do not lose anything.

Speak up if problems arise

  • Signals such as body language during class are what instructors use to determine whether students are having problems (confusion, frustration, boredom, absence, etc.). That is not possible in the online paradigm. If you are experiencing difficulty on any level (either with the technology or with the course content), you must communicate this immediately. Otherwise the instructor will never know what is wrong.

Take full advantage of SXU online resources

  • SXU has a variety of resources available to online students, which include free email, library, computer labs, IT help desk, Center For Instructional Design and Academic Technology (CIDAT) and Brainfuse online tutor. Make sure you are familiar with where to find these available resources and how to use them to help make your online experience a success.