Essential Online Course Tips

When it comes to online courses, success is all about building a strong foundation. This means developing good study habits and staying focused on your goals. The choices you make early on in the semester can have a big impact on your academic performance and daily routine. It's important to establish a solid foundation for yourself right from the start. With the right balance of discipline and determination, you can thrive in your courses and achieve your academic dreams.

Have you completed your Online Orientation?

As part of the enrollment process, students in a fully online program must complete a virtual orientation. This is the final step before beginning your studies at Wichita State. By completing orientation, students will gain an understanding of how online learning operates.

How to access Online Orientation

Academic Expectations

Jumping into a virtual classroom doesn't come naturally to everyone. You'll need to make a few adjustments before you can thrive in this environment.

  • Don’t expect online courses to be easier. Gear up for a challenge and prepare to work hard like you would in any class.
  • Know the rules of plagiarism. As a rule of thumb, if you came up with it and wrote it, it’s yours. If you have copied, borrowed, quoted, or even paraphrased information or an idea—credit the source.
  • For additional support, reach out to your instructor, academic advisor, student success coach, and/or the OAL Specialist
Foundational skills

Create a foundation that clearly outlines a daily routine that works for you. It's important that these foundational skills support the goals you wish to accomplish and sets clear boundaries on the activities that you are doing.

Block time to log in and complete assignments

Find your "prime study time" where you can concentrate well and work productively without any interruptions. Develop a routine based on your "prime study time" to help you stay on schedule with other responsibilities you may have throughout the day. Establish rules to avoid distractions so you can devote time to the task at hand. 

Optimize your study environment

Designating a separate work space for you academics can improve your focus. Evaluate your preferences to help you concentrate on your studies. Factors to consider would be—do you thrive in a busier and noisy environment or you do excel in a study room that is quiet?

Your space should be comfortable but not too comfortable. Your goal is to create an environment that you will enjoy being in for an extended period of time. Stock up your space with study materials you like to use such as papers, pens, sticky notes, and highlighters. Having  everything on hand will reduce the amount of time wasted looking for things.

Figuring out life logistics

Prioritize your commitments in your life by setting a schedule in advance. Creating to-do list, setting goals, and marking important dates can eliminate cramming to get things done. An organized schedule helps you keep track of everything you need to accomplish in a timely manner.

Consider a support system at home, school, and work. Your support network of individuals can lend a helping hand, share resources, or keep you motivated through your academic journey. 

Create outlets for fun and stress relief

As a busy student, don’t forget to take time for yourself. Practicing self-care will help improve your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Coming back refreshed can boost your productivity level. Make choices that will re-energize your spirit and leave you feeling destressed.

It's important that you are taking proper care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising.

Get the right tools before you start


  1. High-Speed internet connection: Establish a reliable internet source to aid you in your studies
  2. A back-up plan: It's not a bad idea to have a few backup options for getting online if your primary WiFi connection is having issues. This can include the library, the office, a coffee shop, or a friend's home.

    Please note, working from a tablet or a mobile device may not have all capabilities you need to complete all your course work.

  3. Access to a reliable computer: There are many affordable options available to you, the key is to choose an option that best fits your needs. 

  4. Access to a printer: Even though your assignments are submitted online, you may want to print items for your records or as a way to study material offline.
  5. Note taking and study supplies: What helps you study and maintain focus? A great go-to item are earbuds! This can minimize outside noise and distractions as you listen to lectures. Grab a notepad, highlighters, and pencil to help you jot down important points that you can review later.
  6. Microsoft Office 365: As a WSU Student, you have access to this software for free! Log into your myWSU portal and click on the Office 365 icon on the top right corner of your screen. You can use the cloud based tools or download the software to your computer.

Office 365 Icon in myWSU portal


Tech Tool Tips

Time management expectations

To effectively plan out your semester and allocate enough time to your courses, refer to your syllabi as a helpful guide. If you are unsure about your instructor's expectations, don't hesitate to reach out to them for clarification. Additionally, your syllabi can assist you in scheduling and prioritizing important events like family trips, emergencies, and work obligations.

If you feel overwhelmed or have no clue where to start, contact us! We are here to help you succeed.

Schedule a Success Conversation 

Establishing a connection with your online instructor in the beginning of the semester will streamline communication in the future. Simply locate your instructor’s email within your blackboard course or syllabus and introduce yourself. Ask any questions you might already have but if you don’t have any, that’s alright too. The point of introducing yourself is to establish a line of communication so when you have questions later, there’s no last minute scramble to locate your instructors name and contact information. 
Let's talk about textbooks

How to find textbooks you need to purchase for courses you are taking

  1. Log into your myWSU portal
  2. Go to your myClasses Tab
  3. Write down all your CRNs for the courses you are taking by reviewing your course schedule
  4. Scroll down to the bottom of the myClasses Tab and look for the myTextbook tile (see screenshot below)
  5. Type CRNs separated by commas. The Shocker Store will then generate a custom list of textbooks your courses require. Depending on availability, you may have the option to buy new, used, rented, or e-book.

Order Textbooks at the Shocker Store

Pro-Tip: Double check the list generated by the Shocker Store matches the required textbooks on your syllabi. Your syllabi will have the most up-to-date information.

Go-getter online student tips
  • Raise questions as they arise: If you have issues with your course, please contact your instructor. For Blackboard issues please contact Blackboard support at (316) 978-7777 and for technical difficulties contact the Helpdesk. Don't wait until an assignment is due or past due to ask questions, report technical problems, misunderstandings, or other barriers to completing course work on time. Remember that your instructor does not have the benefit of seeing your body language or fielding your questions in real-time. If a problem or question arises, speak up immediately! 
  • Interact with your classmates: Share your perspectives and experiences with others, so that you can enhance course topics. Participation demonstrates your mastery of the subject matter and promotes community with your peers, who play an important role in your educational growth.
  • Stay engaged: Stay engaged with your lessons, instructors, and classmates. You may not have a lot of time to devote to school work each day, but make a habit of checking-in on a regular basis to look at new content, discussion posts, announcements, etc. Over time, this will help you manage the workload and get the most out of online learning.
  • Apply your knowledge: Apply skills and concepts you learn to activities, problems, or processes in your professional setting. Knowledge and skill-building is most powerful when you apply them to situations in your own life.

Source: Prepare Students for Online Learning

Are you ready for Class?

It's important that you take the time to prepare for your online studies.

  • Check your tech is working properly
  • Designate a workspace to help you focus on your academics
  • When interacting in Teams or Zoom settings, use simple backgrounds
  • Come prepared to learn by having learning materials on hand
  • Set aside time to learn 
  • Participate in discussions
  • Set up a timeline for upcoming deadlines
  • Be mindful of your online peers learning alongside you
  • Be respectful and professional.

Discussion Post 101

Are you wondering how to create discussion posts that effectively demonstrate your understanding of class concepts? The discussion board is a valuable tool for exploring these concepts and applying them to real-life scenarios. Discover ways to engage in meaningful dialogue with your peers.



Student studying with her pet

Netiquette 101

When taking an online course, it's important to remember that your online presence can speak volumes. Netiquette matters, and you should always strive to present yourself in a positive light. By being respectful and thoughtful towards other participants, you can foster a supportive and encouraging learning environment for all. Whether contributing to a forum or submitting assignments, it's crucial to remember the impact your actions and words can have on others.