Essential Skills for Online Learning

Successful distance learning students are self-disciplined, self-motivated, prepared, good readers, good organizers and have good time management skills.

It may go without saying, but being a successful student also includes getting adequate sleep, eating healthy and drinking water, exercising, and overall prioritizing your time. Your well physical and mental well being is of first importance.

In order to prepare yourself for your online learning experience, the first step is to become orientated to how online learning works. Be sure to complete Online Readiness Quiz to think about yourself as a learner, while evaluating your time management and technical skills.

This page highlights a few tips and keys to success in online learning related to the following areas:

  • Self-Discipline and Self-Motivation
  • Time Management
  • Space to Study
  • Ask for Help
Student Studying in Library

Self-Discipline, Self-Motivation, and Time Management

The ability to be independent and self-directed in your learning while effectively managing time is key to success in online learning.

To be successful, you will need to have self-discipline and self-motivation to regularly login to the course, monitor deadlines, and complete your course work regularly. 

  • TIP:  Take action, participate, and keep yourself on track. Know your what your best learning settings look like and proactively turn off or minimize your distractions (including your mobile phone, music, etc.).
  • TIP:  Engage and Read. Be sure to read all of your instructor's emails, announcements, and communications. Often these will contain important deadlines, to dos, assignment instructions, etc. 
  • TIP:  Login to Blackboard and check your email regularly. The key is to have a dedicated time set aside for your course work and to minimize obstacles that hinder you from studying and participating.

Have you planned enough time? Consider this: The rule of thumb for class time and homework is the same for both in-seat and online classes. You should expect to spend a minimum of 2-3 hours additional for each hour of class time. Therefore, in a 3-credit hour course you should expect to spend at least 6-9 hours per week to complete the readings, assignments and participate in class discussion.

  • TIP:  Use a time / task calendar or schedule and set reminders for logging in regularly. Setting up a daily schedule, marking important due dates for learning activities and assessments, and blocking off time for reading course content and participating in course requirements is key.
  • TIP:  Don't procrastinate and try to do all of your work in one session. Break up readings, assignments and projects into smaller manageable tasks.
  • TIP:  Use your time wisely. We all have the same time available to us: 24 hours in a day, and 168 hours in a week - use your time wisely. Be sure to review these time management tips for some additional helpful strategies.

Additional Resources for being an Online Learner


External Websites


Create a quiet study space for yourself to read course materials, work on class assignments, and engage in the class dialogue. During this time, you should log-on to your course site to read course content, complete a learning activity, participate in class discussions, or submit an assessment.

  • TIP:  Keep your space organized, keep yourself and your course materials organized!


If you need help, do not wait, ask! 

Page last modified May 2, 2022