5 Ways to be Engaged in Your Online Class

It’s a simple concept - students who are more “involved” in a class are more likely to successfully complete the course. In a traditional face-to-face classroom, opportunities for engagement are obvious - ask and answer questions in class, participate in group discussions, or it may be as simple as consistently showing up to class. In an online class, however, students sometimes find it difficult to feel like an active participant in the course. At eCore, we have worked tirelessly to figure out how we can help students become engaged in their online courses across both distance (online learning) and across time (asynchronous online learning). We are continually working to strengthen and connect the eCore student services across student engagement.

As a student, you may wonder what you can do to stay engaged as an online learner and increase the likelihood of passing the course with the grade you want. Here are some tips that will help you not only in eCore and eMajor online courses, but in online courses in general.

1. Login to class!
This may sound like a no-brainer but when you don’t have to actually “go” to class at a specific time, it’s easy to put it off. You should log into class on DAY ONE and make a commitment to login and work every day or almost every day. Think about logging in as “showing up” for your online class. To stay engaged, you need to “show up” to class fairly often.
2. Familiarize yourself with the course
Log in to the course on DAY ONE and take a tour to familiarize yourself with the layout and structure. There are a few things you may even be able to review before the first day of class. You should look for:
    • Syllabus & Instructor’s Contact Info: Be sure to review the course syllabus; it is your contract with the professor. Here, you will find your grade point accumulation table, your instructor’s name, and external contact information. For eCore and eMajor classes, you will find it in the top left of the course syllabus.
    • Course Calendar: Important dates and deadlines critically influence your performance in college. Review the course calendar and make note of important due dates. Also note important dates like the drop/add window, texting windows, and midpoint withdrawal deadlines. Most institutions provide an academic calendar to help you keep all those vital dates and deadlines straight. eCore and eMajor follow the common statewide Calendar, which can be found here.
    • Textbook Requirements: If a textbook is required, you should plan to obtain the book prior to the first day of class. Having the book ahead of time means you will have more time to review the material and therefore participate in discussions. Some online courses may not have a textbook requirement. eCore, for example, offers free open educational resources in over half of their courses. In this case, the materials are linked inside the course and are often available for review prior to the first day of class inside the eConnection tutorial course. For eCore courses that do require a textbook purchase, some are available in eBook formats. Purchasing an eBook will allow you to receive the materials quicker. However, if a student does need to purchase a physical textbook, one can be purchased in any manner - new, used, electronic, or even rental.
    • Testing Requirements: Most online classes have some sort of testing requirement. It is important to determine the requirements at the beginning of the course so you can be adequately prepared. In eCore courses, at least one proctored exam is required (but not more than two) in each course. Typically, the midterm and/or final exam for the course are proctored. Proctored exams are taken in the presence of an approved test proctor and are usually held at a testing center. Visit the eCore website for more information about proctored exam requirements.
3. Manage your time wisely
The number one reason students withdraw from an eCore class is time management. Before you enroll in an online course, it is important to consider if you have enough time to devote to your studies for the duration of the class. Be sure to estimate correctly for accelerated terms like eCore’s 8-week sessions. In accelerated sessions, the same amount of material is covered in half the time, so it requires double the amount of study effort.

The first few days of a course are typically designated as a drop window. For eCore, this is a five day period where you can drop the course without receiving a “W”. You can save yourself a lot of worry by thoroughly exploring the class during that five day period and determining whether or not  you can keep up with the course assignments. If the time commitment is too challenging for you, consider dropping the class before the drop window closes.
4. Communicate
Once you determine you have the time to commit to the class, you have the book, and you have your syllabus - it’s time to participate! Closely monitor all forms of communication in the class - calendar, news items, discussion posts from the professor, and your email inside the Learning Management System. For eCore/eMajor courses, this is your GoVIEW email.

    • Discussion Board: The discussion board is the conversation flow of the class. Read and respond consistently and on time. You can use this forum to make a connection with your professor and your classmates. Try to be the first or second poster in your class on a topic!
    • Email: Check both your campus email and your GoVIEW email (for eCore/eMajor students) daily. eCore can only officially notify students at campus email addresses. Be sure to watch for eCore announcements throughout the semester. eCore emails are sent weekly to remind you of important deadlines, provide student success tips, and keep you informed of general information.
    • Diversity of Online Learning: Embrace the diversity of your class. In eCore classes, you will have students from up to 25 different USG institutions; your professor is also from an institution within the University System of Georgia but not necessarily from your institution. Students of all ages are in eCore classes. There is a lot to be learned from communicating with your fellow classmates!
5. Take advantage of your resources
If you fall behind on your discussion postings or your assignments - it’s easy to feel like you are all on your own in an online class. But remember, YOU ARE NOT! You have plenty of resources available to help you be successful in the course, you just have to take advantage of them. Explore what types of tutoring and library services are available to you BEFORE you need them. Then, if you get in a bind and need some help, you will know where to go. In eCore classes, you have access to your home institution’s resources in addition to eCore specific resources such as:

    • A student success team member who is assigned to your class. They’re there to help you locate the resources that are available to you, and to offer encouragement along the way.
    • Embedded librarians in all eCore classes except Spanish, Math, and Science classes. (What does an embedded librarian do, you ask? Meet one of them here!)
    • Embedded tutors in all eCore math and science classes.
    • Access to Smarthinking Online Tutoring and online writing labs in all classes.
    • GALILEO Library Services, which provides access to multiple information resources including secured access to licensed products, is available i all classes.
Engagement is a big part of online learning, and it directly impacts the student. When we do it right (faculty, student and staff), the student has increased opportunities for a great learning experience and a successful outcome. We want our students to succeed. At eCore, we are continuously improving our efforts to engage students in the class early on, but there is still more to be done. That’s why we want to hear from our students! Be sure to complete the course evaluation that is sent at the end of your class. It’s how we make changes to improve the success of students in our classes. Tell us - what would make you feel more engaged in your online class?

Julili Fowler, eCampus Associate Director of Student Engagement and Analytics
Katie Shoemake: eCampus Educational Program Specialist
Nikki Henderson: eCampus Educational Program Specialist


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