The Do's and Don'ts of Online Classes


The time has come! You’re getting ready to begin your first online class at Ohio State. But before jumping into online learning, it’s important to understand the basic do’s and don’ts in online classes.  

If you’re new to learning online, it’s understandable that you’d have a few questions. Maybe you’re not sure how participation will work, or if attendance is mandatory in an online class. You might be confused about terminology such as “asynchronous learning” versus “synchronous learning.” Or maybe you haven’t been a student in a while and need a reminder on the best ways to study and be productive.  

No matter what questions you may have, we’ve got you covered. Read on for our list of do’s and don’ts for success in your online classes, and reach out to us with any questions not answered here. 


Getting Started


DO: Prepare for your course to begin. 

Just like an on-the-ground course, you will be expected to participate and be involved in the assignments of your online class. Before the semester begins, make sure you have the technology you need, read the course syllabus and reach out to your professor with any questions. 


DON’T: Expect to be anonymous in your online course. 

A key piece of any online course is communication. Your instructor and fellow students expect you to be engaged and interact in the class – either during live sessions on CarmenZoom or in asynchronous discussions on CarmenCanvas. Your instructor may take attendance if you are enrolled in a class with a synchronous lecture component.


DO: Prepare to commit time to the course.

There is a myth that distance education courses aren’t as time-consuming as traditional courses. Even though you can complete your work from the comfort of your home, you still need to be prepared to dedicate anywhere from four to 15 hours a week to every course you take. 


DON’T: Be afraid to reach out for help. 

Maybe you don’t understand a key course objective or can’t get one of your technology tools to work. That’s OK! Ohio State faculty and staff are here to help get you on the right track. Looking for a study buddy? Don't be afraid to make connections with your classmates either. Taking turns teaching each other the material can be a great study hack..

Student typing on keyboard while learning online from home.
Don't be afraid to reach out for help! Your instructor might be your first call, but your classmates can also be helpful resources if you're stuck.

When Class is in Session


DO: Develop good online communication habits. 

Check your email at least once a day. If you are working on a group project or are discussing an issue with a professor, it’s important to be available on a platform everyone has access to, such as email. 


DON’T: Abuse email to communicate. 

While you need to be assertive in expressing your needs, opinions and ideas in class discussions, don’t go overboard! Sending too many emails to your instructors or classmates can be overwhelming. Treat email like you’re having an in-person, back-and-forth conversation. 


DO: Be respectful and responsive.

With online communication, it’s important to understand people might misconstrue what you said, no matter how carefully you composed it. Be aware of how you use class discussion boards, whether to ask a question to the group or make a point about a learning topic. 


DON’T: Procrastinate

Procrastination may be one of the deadly sins of online learning. Try to set times to talk and work with other students, set goals for your projects and stay up to date with readings and other work.  

With these do’s and don’ts in mind, you’ll be ready to succeed in your online courses and achieve your educational goals.


Still searching for the best online degree?

Ohio State’s online bachelor’s degrees and graduate programs are ranked as some of the best in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report. 


Last modified: 
August 9, 2022