Skip to main content

What do I need to be successful in an online class?

As you start thinking about going back to school or enrolling in your first online class, you may feel overwhelmed or nervous. That is normal! Being nervous means you want to do well–which means you’re already starting from a great place.

Lucky for you, Boise State has a whole team of online Student Success coaches and advisors as well as a host of other university resources to help you succeed and reach your goals.

Online courses are a little different than the in-person classroom experience you may be used to, and they may require additional qualities from you as a student. What are those qualities? Check out the list below. If you have any questions or want to work on any of these areas, connect with a Student Success Coach who can help you prepare for online learning.

What You Need

Be proficient in basic computer and Internet skills

To be successful in an online class, you must know how to navigate the internet using a web browser; navigate among and between multiple open windows; open, close and save files and attachments; and send and receive email attachments. If you’ve made it to this webpage, you’re probably off to a good start! If this is an area you feel like you could use a little more help with, consider starting your online learning with the one-credit course, ACAD 107: Preparing for Online Learning.

Have a mature learning style and the ability to stay organized and self-motivated

Since online courses do not meet at a specified time each week, it is important you establish a regular schedule for accessing the online course site multiple times a week to interact with others, complete assignments and review course materials. This requires an increased level of organization, commitment and motivation.

Possess effective written communication skills and the ability to understand written information and electronic communications

Almost all interaction in an online course is through text. As such, you must be comfortable reading, writing and communicating with others in a respectful way through text. Likewise, online courses can seem to take more time than in-person courses because it takes longer to read and write than it does to speak and listen.

Actively participate in class as required by the instructor

You can expect to have daily to weekly activities and assignments with strictly enforced deadlines. A discussion board is also often used for real-time discussion between the instructor and other students. If videos are required as part of instruction, actively participate by watching with little to no distractions and by taking notes.

Contact the instructor independently via telephone or email with questions or problems

You must be comfortable asking for help when it is needed. If there is a question on an assignment, contacting the instructor right away will keep you from falling behind. Remember: online instructors can’t see you and the only way they will know if you have a question is if you ask.

Frequently access the BroncoMail student email account assigned to every student at Boise State

Prior to the start of a course, an email is sent to each enrolled student’s BroncoMail email account. The instructor will provide important information concerning class startup, including instructions on how to access the course website, course requirements and student expectations. You may need to check BroncoMail frequently for information from the instructor.

Possess a Boise State student identification number to access online resources and a student ID card for proctored testing, if required

When you are accepted to Boise State, you’ll be issued a student identification number which will come in your welcome email. If you are having trouble finding your student ID number, a Student Success Coach can help.

Students taking distance learning courses and living outside the Boise area can request a BroncoCard, which may be required for proctored exams. See the BroncoCard website for more information.

Have reliable access to the minimum technology requirements

A computer and reliable internet access are most important to your success as an online student!

Computer System Requirements

Your computer should have sufficient RAM memory, storage space, and processing power for running the latest operating systems and software releases. Most newer computers will meet these hardware requirements. If you have an older computer, you may try it, but you may experience difficulty using some of the tools available in your online classroom.

Internet Connection

At a minimum, a standard level high-speed internet connection is recommended. A wireless internet connection may not be stable enough for activities such as taking tests and submitting assignments. Cable modems are the preferred internet connection followed by DSL. A satellite connection (such as HughesNet) will work, however you may experience performance delays.

Email and Other Requirements

Boise State uses Google Apps for Education and all students are given a free student email account with access to Google Apps. You must also be comfortable using a browser to navigate the web and open, close and save files and attachments. You must also be comfortable using a word processor to create and save files. Other software may be required by your program.