Online Learner Survival Guide

Surviving & Thriving in Online Courses

Online learning is challenging, and it requires that students be motivated, determined, and independent learners. What if you want to take online course but aren’t all of these things? Read on for ways to improve in these areas and many more.

If you are disciplined, motivated, determined and willing to explore technology, there are still many strategies that can smooth the road to success.

Read on for lots of helpful tips and strategies.

Quick Links:
Technical Skills
Time Management
Study Skills

Technical skills – Don’t let your computer scare you!

  • All WCC students have access to 3 crucial online tools: WCCMail, Moodle, and Webadvisor.
  • All of these services  and password reset directions are accessible at WCC Online Services
  • Access your WCCMail – WCCMail is the primary communication tool for WCC and your faculty. Start at the WCC home page  Click on this link:
  • The same username and password are used to access all three tools: WCCMail, Moodle and Webadvisor. If you are a brand new student visit the WCC Online Services page to determine your initial user name and password
  • Online, hybrid and traditional courses are presented via Moodle. Online and Hybrid courses will appear in your Moodle account by 8 AM the day your courses are scheduled to start. Traditional courses use Moodle at the discretion of the instructor.
    • What’s Moodle? Moodle is an online learning environment. Depending on the type of course you take, all, some or only a little of your course may be in Moodle. Directions for accessing Moodle and a link to a sample course are found at: Moodle Basics
    • How to Login to Moodle: WCC Home page, click Moodle (right side of the page) on the next page, enter your username and password.
    • Use the Firefox browser to access Moodle:  click on the green “Free Download” button and follow the directions. Downloading Firefox through any other link is not recommended. Moodle doesn’t work well in Internet Explorer or Google Chrome.
  • Webadvisor is where students can check grades, search for course sections, and use Express Registration. Access  Webadvisor tutorials from the WCC Online Services page.
  • As a WCC student you have access to a great collection of Google apps,  including Google Calendar and Drive. Links to these apps are found on you WCCMail home page.  Here’s an overview of Google Drive:
  • REMEMBER: Your password must be updated every 90 days, visit the Password Reset Links on the WCC Online Services page.
  •  Remember these rules for changing your password:
      • Do not use any of your last 8 passwords
      • Do not use any part of your name or username
      • Use at least 8 characters
      • Use at least one number
      • Use at least one uppercase letter

Time management- Stay ahead of the game

  • Schedule- blocks of time to study- make these appointments with yourself and keep them as if you were going to work and getting paid for the time. You wouldn’t skip work or doctor’s appointments; don’t skip study appointments either. This means in addition to managing your time and personal schedule, that you are always looking ahead in your course. If your faculty uses a course schedule- print and save it in various places (email, Google drive, paper copy, smart phone etc). If there’s an in-course calendar- keep track of dates that way. Always be aware of course work, what’s do each week and when, and assignment due dates too. This is your responsibility- not your instructor’s.
  • Consider- when you study best- Late evenings? First thing in the morning? Use this to schedule your study times for when you’ll be most focused and productive.
  • Break- large projects into small manageable portions.
  • No- Practice saying this simple word to protect your time and stay focused on your goals. Say No to distractions or commitments that don’t further your efforts.
  • Flexible- Successful time management means understanding things change and you’ll have to adjust your schedule and expectations
  • Pockets- Identify pockets of unused time in your schedule and use those for studying, reading etc. Waiting at the doctor’s office, eating meals, waiting for the mechanic to finish your oil change; these are all untapped pockets of time to study.
  • Prioritize
  •  Create a dedicated place to study- make sure you have what you need when you need it. This space can be a desk, office or even your backpack. Just be certain you have access to your books, charger (for portable devices), thumb drive (if you use one), a comfortable place to sit, and whatever else you need.
  • Google Drive and Calendar- Each WCC student has an email account through Google- look around at Google Drive, Calendar and other resources to increase your organization and productivity. And don’t forget Google search and Google Scholar.
  • Need help? Ask! Your first resource for in-class issues is your instructor- keep their email and other contact info handy (faculty contact info is in the course and in the syllabus). If you have password issues: reset or retrieve your password by using the directions found at the WCC Online Services page. Technical issues in Moodle; trouble submitting an assignment etc: call the distance education office- 919 739 7023/7029
  • What if you do fall behind? Try the 3S approach- from Research and Innovation in Distance and eLearning 2012

S- Skim- quickly read over textbook and online reading assignments to gather the important points without reading every word.
S- Skip- Use your best judgment here- can you really skip it? Can you skip it this week and go back to it next week when you are caught up? Be careful with this one. Reach out to your instructor if you are in a real bind- and ask them to help you prioritize readings.
S- Scrape- sometimes despite your best intentions, too much goes wrong in a week and you just have to give it your best effort and “scrape” by. Do what you can to the best of your ability and move on to the next assignment.

  • The 3S plan is only for emergencies- this is not the way to be successful in online courses. The be successful, you need to login in, do the work, stay on top of your schedule, and do your best work possible every time. But being successful also requires you to know how to handle adversity.

Motivation, or how to handle the “Why am I doing this?” blues…

  • Keep a list of reasons why you are in school close at hand. Refer to it when you are doubting yourself. Reasons to be in school are as varied as students- a better job? better pay? learn something new? transfer to a 4-year college? start a new career? set a good example for your children?
  • Login to your courses regularly and often to stay connected with the course, your classmates, and faculty.
  • Do independent research on your course topics or career goals. Either one will spark your imagination and re-energize and help you focus on your learning.
  • Set goals- a certain grade in a class, receiving an invitation to Phi Theta Kappa, maintaining your GPA. Set goals that matter to you and then do everything necessary to meet those goals.
  • When taking courses outside of your major, look for ways to tie the information into your overall goals. An English major taking a math class? Remember the logic applied in math also applies to writing. Science majors taking writing courses? Remember even scientists need strong writing skills to share their data with others.
  • Earn certificates on the way to your degree, these serve as landmarks and provide a sense of accomplishment. An additional value of certificates earned on the way to your degree is a potential for increasing your value to employers.
  • Develop a support network that encourages and supports your efforts. You need to do the work but encouragement from friends, family and colleagues can help significantly when your determination is lagging.
  • Designate rewards for successfully completing a course or challenging project. You’ve worked hard and a small reward is a nice “pat on the back” that will help you stay motivated.

Study Resources