Getting Started with Online Learning



The Basics: you will need the following to succeed in an Online Course:

An Internet Connection

If you wish to work from home, you will need to have an Internet connection. This will require you to make arrangements with an internet service provider (ISP) for a connection (i.e AOL, Earthlink, Verizon). This may involve discussions about computer brand and capability, modem and data rates, connection software, and pricing alternatives. SFCC does have computers available for student use throught out the college.


Learn how to operate the computer and initiate the software packages, learn how to operate each of the software packages (how to connect to the service provider, how to operate the web browser, the emailer and other components that you may need or offered to you), and learn the capabilities, limitations, and etiquette of email, web browsing, and conferencing.


Arrange for access to the necessary hardware: computer, modem, telephone, and cables. Setting up the hardware may involve arranging furniture, getting the correct cords and cables and correctly connecting the boxes.


Arrange for access to the necessary software: connection software, web browser and email program. Selecting the software will involve finding a source of supply and selecting among alternatives considering the specific computer configuration.

How is the online environment different from the classroom?

Work habits:

Online classes are convenient and flexible but students have to be disciplined enough to make time to study and participate.

Learning styles:

Online learning is best for those who learn by reading and writing; if you learn better by hearing lectures or making presentations, an on-campus class might be a better fit.


The instructor can’t see students and won’t know if you are confused, bored, or frustrated unless you are willing to talk to her/him about it. Click here to learn more.


How is the online environment similar to the classroom?

Your instructor will provide quality readings, exercises, assignments and quizzes; as with regular classes, what you get out of it is related to how much you put into it.

Expect to spend the same amount of time and energy on an online class; in fact, online classes can take more time and energy than regular classes.

More on Work Habits

Successful online students:

  • Log in regularly to their classes, usually at least three times per week
  • Plan to ensure enough time to study and complete assignments
  • Take notes as they study
  • Commit 6 – 9 hours per week per three-credit class
  • Enjoy communicating in writing and reading the writing of others
  • Be able to work with others via email and chat to complete projects
  • “Speak up” to their instructors when problems arise

Online interactions are often an essential element of the learning experience. Be willing to share your ideas, carefully consider your responses to others, and be prepared to have your ideas challenged occasionally.

More on Learning Styles

Successful online students:

  • Are active learners who are willing to take responsibility for their own learning.
  • Are visual learners able to learn easily from reading and writing. If you learn best by hearing the instructor, you may want to consider an on-campus class.


More on Skills

Successful online students:

  • Know how to use technology properly. This tutorial provides help with computer skills and information about Elearn, the delivery system we use to present online courses here at SFCC.
  • Read and write well. Students with weaknesses in these areas can get remedial help or consider classroom learning.
  • Are comfortable addressing problems at a distance. Distance education students need to be assertive in order to make their needs known.
  • Have good time management skills to plot and follow a schedule for finishing readings and assignments.
  • Have solid research skills, including how to effectively use the Internet.
  • Have the ability to work well cooperatively, even when your communication is restricted to email or online chat.

Which brings us to some other very important qualities of the successful distance learner – flexibility and adaptability. Learning online is an adventure that will expose you to some entirely new – and not always comfortable – experiences. The ability to be flexible and remain open minded is critical to having a positive experience as you move into uncharted territory.