The Catholic University of America

Success in Distance Learning

Online classes require time and self-discipline. People, who have never taken an online class, may think the course will be easier than a face to face class. However, often online classes can be far more difficult because they require an extensive commitment of time and effort.

Much of the work in a fully online class will be asynchronous, using Blackboard. This means that you will log into Blackboard and complete that week’s work by a certain time. Our online classes are not self-paced. All work has deadlines throughout the semester, just like a face to face class. 

You will need to have a computer system that adheres to the technical requirements, and a stable, high speed internet connection.

Here are some guidelines to be successful:

  • Keep up with the reading and videos
    This is essential in any course, but very much so in an online course. Everything you will participate in will be based around the readings, videos or recorded lectures. You will not be able to skip the reading and attend a lecture where your instructor will restate the highlights of that reading.
  • Log on regularly and participate in the discussions
    You need to log on regularly to keep abreast of the class.  Everything happens online, so if you don’t log on you are missing it.  Blackboard tracks every time you log onto the system and what you do when you log on. Online activities are often your participation grade and if you do not participate you will lose points. 
  • Manage your time wisely and be sure you understand what is required of you
    Expect to spend about 6-9 hours per week on each course undergraduate level course, and 9-12 hours per week on each graduate level course.
    Often during a course there will be several things due each week. If you fall behind it is difficult to catch up. Try to organize and establish regular time to sit down and complete your online work at least three days a week.

    Rubrics are used to give students and teachers greater understanding of how the work is graded.  If there is something you don’t understand about an assignment then you need to ask. Please try to ask as soon as you are able so that your question can be answered well before the due date.

    You may have group work. Many online courses use groups and group activities heavily. Many people have had bad group experiences, but group work is a great way for students to learn from one another, and to build a connection in the online environment. The instructor is assigning group work because student won’t have the same chance to network in an online class as they may in a face to face class. Group work provides that networking opportunity and connection.
  • Don’t procrastinate
    One of the main reasons students drop or fail online courses is because they get behind on work and feel like they cannot catch up. Try to keep up with assignments and tasks. If you fall behind, ask your teacher if you can still submit something, even if the grade is marked lower for being late.
  • Ask questions
    If you are having problems CUA has a wide array of resources. The instructor can answer your questions about course material or anything inside of the class that is unclear.

    Technology Services can answer questions about Blackboard and its functions.