Best Practices for Online Success

Online learning is a convenient alternative to in-person classes that can help you along your path to academic success, and while taking courses online can help you integrate your higher ed experience with your busy schedule, they still require the same time and attention as their in-person counterparts.

On this page, you’ll find some best practices that can help you approach your online coursework and find success with your online program.

Know the Course

Familiarize yourself with the course syllabus: This is particularly important for online courses, as your syllabus will more than likely serve as part of your introduction to the class. Make sure you understand the goals and objectives of what you’ll be learning, your instructor’s expectations for participation and communication, and how your work will be evaluated.

Understand the required materials or technology needed to participate in the course: Note the required textbook, which you can also find listed on the UA Little Rock Campus Bookstore website. Pay extra attention to the required edition of the text and any supplemental materials, particularly if you’ll be using an electronic text that uses an access code purchased from the publisher.

Learn about the resources available to you and how to access them: Remember that even though you might not come to campus, you may still need to use different campus services to complete your work. You can learn more about the services available to students on our campus resource guide.

Plan Ahead

Check the provided materials for a course schedule: In addition to communication from the instructor, the course syllabus and schedule are the most important ways to keep track of what you need to do in your course on a regular basis. A course schedule will commonly be included in the syllabus or as a separate document and you’ll use this as your guide as you progress through the semester.

Make a plan at the start of the semester: It may help to plan your semester using the tools you otherwise use to keep track of important events. You could list important dates found within your course syllabus or schedule on your UA Little Rock Google Calendar, or if you prefer, in a paper day planner or journal. Try to integrate this with whatever you use to keep track of your day-to-day life, and maintain it as you move through the semester.

Don’t rely on the automated notifications generated by Blackboard: While they can serve as helpful reminders, it’s important that you keep track of due dates for required assignments outside of Blackboard. The Calendar tool in Blackboard, for example, may not show due dates for necessary assignments until they’ve been made available in the course, and some instructors may not even use content that would generate dates on this calendar for required work. This information is almost always included within the syllabus and other provided course materials, so don’t be caught off guard.

Make Time and Space

Understand the workload and time requirements: Online courses might help you fit earning college credit into your busy schedule, but they still require as much of your personal time as their in-person counterparts.  Don’t assume the content of a course will be easier to complete just because it’s online, or that you won’t have requirements of your time because the course content is completed asynchronously.

Set aside time to review: Because you won’t be meeting in a classroom on campus, you’ll need to make time to watch online lecture recordings and discuss content with your classmates. This is in addition to the time you’d devote to reading, studying for tests, or working on class projects and assignments.

Dedicate space for working on your online courses: To help minimize distractions and organize the resources you use to tackle the work, be sure you have dedicated space with access to a computer and a reliable internet connection, particularly if you plan to take online assessments or upload coursework.


Use your instructor’s preferred method of contact: When it comes to communicating, you should observe your instructor’s requirements for contacting them and for interacting with other students. Make sure you understand when and how you’re expected to communicate with others, particularly when contacting your instructors, as some will prefer to communicate within the course, while others will use their UA Little Rock Gmail account for correspondence.

Observe common etiquette for written communication: Be mindful of expectations when communicating with other classmates, particularly when posting to discussion forums and other course-wide communication tools. Use proper grammar and punctuation, and by avoiding strong language and inappropriate material.

Consider the academic expectations of your contributions: When posting to online forums, make sure you are meeting assigned requirements when you submit content or comment on another student’s work. Are your posts substantive and do they further the discourse of the topic at hand? Check for any length or content requirements before you post to ensure you are meeting course requirements.

Follow video conferencing etiquette:  Be sure to choose a quiet location and dress appropriately for class, keep yourself muted when not talking, and only use conferencing features like screen sharing or chat when given permission.