April 17, 2013 | Marcus Varner | Leave a comment In some ways, online classes are very much like traditional classes at traditional colleges. An instructor takes students through course material one topic and one lecture at a time. And as in traditional classes, online students are given homework assignments that they are expected to complete with each topic and exams to test their newfound knowledge. But that’s where the similarities end. Online classes happen on the internet and they usually happen on a student’s own timetable. This means that they require a distinctly different skill set from their students. If you want to succeed in your next online class, you’ll want to master these five skills: 1. Web Savvy The “online” part of online classes implies that classes held mostly, if not totally, on the Internet. Lectures are usually videos. Reading materials are usually kept as files on websites that students need to download. Students communicate with instructors and classmates through email and chat. This, of course, means that students who aren’t familiar with these Internet-based tools will struggle to navigate their courses. For this reason, it’s highly recommended that students familiarize themselves with common Internet tools: participating in social media, watching video, sending chat and emails, and downloading and uploading files. Knowing how to use these proficiently will make it much easier for online students to focus on the actual work of learning. 2. Written Communication Note that above we mentioned that most of your communication would happen via email and chat. This means you won’t be able to talk through course material or your concerns in person with your instructor. Instead, you’ll have to rely on the written word. Whether English was your best subject or not, if you want to do well in your online classes, you’ll need to make sure your written communication skills are polished. After all, if an instructor can’t understand you, he or she won’t be able to help you. 3. Organization Online classes are great for flexibility, but with that flexibility comes great responsibility. Because you don’t have teaching assistants or other helpers looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re getting everything in, and you are completing work on your own schedule, the responsibility to organize your class work falls on your shoulders. To be successful in your online classes, you’ll want to work out how you want to organize your class work, where you will keep your files, how you will keep track of assignments and notes. If you fail to organize your class work on your own, you might find there isn’t as much of a safety net to catch you when things go south. 4. Time Management Instead of having to attend class at the same time in the same room two to three times per week, as you would with a traditional class, online classes often let you view lectures, turn in assignments, and take exams whenever you want. Often the only requirement is that you complete all of these activities within a certain timeframe. Without a rigid schedule set out for you, it’s up to you to create your own schedule and decide when you will get things done. We strongly recommend getting a planner to help you stay on top of things. Some online schools, like University of Phoenix, have planning tools built right into their online classes. But others don’t. In this case, you’ll want to get a planner to help you stay on top of lectures and assignments. The worst thing you can do in an online class is fall so far behind in coursework that it becomes nearly impossible to catch up before the deadline. 5. Note-taking When you’re just watching a video of an instructor talking for hours, it can be easy to zone out. To make sure that you’re absorbing what they’re teaching and not missing anything, brush up on your note-taking skills. Even if your instructor provides pre-made notes for students, you’ll want to still keep your own, just to help you stay engaged.