Office of Online Learning Offers Tips for Online Students

Office of Online Learning Offers Tips for Online Students

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The following is a news from The University of Southern Mississippi

As the fall 2016 semester gets underway at The University of Southern Mississippi, its new Office of Online Learning offers students enrolled in online courses a variety of strategies to get the most out of their academic experience.

"Like any student, online students have to find the best way to succeed in their classes," said Dr. Amy Miller, vice provost. "They need to balance class time, study time and social time while forming good habits to help them progress toward graduation."

Dr. Tom Hutchinson, interim director of the Office of Online Learning at Southern Miss, says the first step online students should take is to make sure they have what is required to access their classes and accompanying course material.

"First and foremost, students need to verify their computer and Internet capabilities," he said. "An online student cannot be successful without reliable internet access and the right hardware and software required for the course."

Additional steps Hutchinson recommends to students include:

• Manage time and plan ahead. Online classes require excellent time management skills and planning for lead-time to submit work, in case of an Internet outage.
• Minimize distractions. Online learning can happen anywhere, but online students need to avoid distractions. This might mean reminding family and friends that even though they are not attending class in person, they must avoid interruptions.
• Familiarize yourself with the learning management system. Online students need to know how to use the university's software. Seek out tutorials on the university's website that include videos and how-to guides.
• Check your university email. Many campuses require students use their ".edu" email address given to students by their institution. Checking official campus email daily keeps students from missing important information.
• Read your class syllabus. From textbooks to chats and online quizzes, know what the class requires, important class and university policies, and how the course grade is determined.
• Know how to get in touch. Online students have a special challenge of how to get in touch with their professors. Find out if your professor has a preferred method of contact and follow the professor's instructions.
• Find out how examinations are offered. Some professors require proctored exams. A proctor is an approved person that administers an exam to a student. The standard approach to obtaining a testing site is to locate the nearest community college, college or university and make contact with its testing office to request that they proctor the exam.
• Avoid isolation. Sometimes online learners feel alone because they are connected to their technology and not sitting in a classroom. Participate in class chats and take advantage of opportunities to connect with students and faculty.

Hutchinson says using these tips can help make an online student successful. "With just a few simple steps, students can make small changes in the way they approach learning and as a result make their studies more successful."

According to Miller, online students should also make time to talk with their professors about class and their career aspirations. "Getting to know faculty members helps students succeed," Miller said.  Online students can be "too busy, too shy, or too intimidated to reach out to faculty members to talk about class," she said, and it is important to make that communication a priority.

"The university is committed to online student success, and a partnership between our Office of Online Learning and our faculty is at the heart of that success."
Southern Miss offers 14 undergraduate and 26 graduate online degree programs. Its Office of Online Learning provides support to online students, to faculty teaching online courses, and to units seeking to develop, grow, or improve online programs. For more information about the Office of Online Learning, visit