Tips for Success in Online Learning

Being successful in online learning will require some new habits.

For instance, you’ll need to log in to JMU Canvas frequently and ensure that notifications are enabled. Learn more about getting started with Canvas and using Zoom at JMU.

Here are some other steps you can take to prepare for success in the online learning environment.

Written and asynchronous online communications

These strategies can help you communicate clearly and use professional etiquette with your professor and fellow students to lay a strong foundation for your future career:

  • Use clear, concise, and descriptive subject lines in emails and online discussions.
  • Think carefully and refer to textbooks, class notes, and the professor’s instructions, before you post to class discussion or submit an assignment.
  • Spell-check and re-read your written communication before you send it out, thinking carefully about what you’re saying from the perspective of your readers and how it could be misinterpreted.
  • Before posting your question to a discussion board, check if anyone has asked it already and received a reply.
  • Stay on topic. Don’t post irrelevant links, comments, thoughts or pictures.
  • Avoid typing in ALL CAPS; it may look like you are yelling.
  • Don’t write anything that sounds angry or sarcastic even as a joke, because without hearing your tone of voice or seeing your face, your peers might not realize you’re joking.
  • Respect the opinion of your classmates. If you feel the need to disagree, do so respectfully and acknowledge the valid points in your classmate’s argument.
  • If you ask questions, many people may respond. Summarize all answers and post that summary to benefit your whole class.
  • If you refer to something your classmate said earlier in the discussion, quote a few key lines from their post so that others won’t have to go back and figure out which post you’re referring to.
  • Check the most recent comments before you reply to an older comment.
  • Be thoughtful to class members even when you have a different opinion or perspective.

Synchronous online communications

You may use Zoom for videoconferencing or synchronous (real-time) class interactions, office hours, or advising. Here are some etiquette tips for video conferencing:

  • Prepare yourself. Think about how you want to look to your classmates or instructor. 
  • Tidy your desk. Don’t have anything between you and the camera. Consider the visual message you are sending.
  • Aim your camera. Check your camera angle so that it’s the way you want it to look. You may want to raise the camera so that it is eye-level if possible. You can use a stack of books or a box to do this.
  • Prepare your background. Consider whether a bright background such as a window will make it difficult to see your face. You may want to use a virtual background (such as these JMU-themed virtual backgrounds).
  • Use headphones. If you can, wear a headset or a pair of earphones or earbuds with a microphone to eliminate echo and reduce background noise. 
  • Use the mute button. Consider muting your computer when you are not talking to eliminate echos and background noise.
  • Learn more about creating quality video at home.

More info