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Foundational Skills for Online Class Preparation

April 1, 2019 9:42am

Heading back to school online can leave some feeling anxious that they aren’t tech savvy enough to be successful. In reality, though, taking online classes doesn’t mean you have to be a computer whiz to make the grade! There are just a few important things you should have basic knowledge of before starting class.

Possess Fundamental Internet and Computer Skills

The Internet has come a long way over the years and it will likely be the main source of your information for papers, class discussions, and other coursework. You’ll want to be sure you know how to utilize search engines like Google and Yahoo when it comes time to collecting information. Checking websites and articles for accuracy and reliability is of the utmost importance. Be sure you use reliable sources when collecting information This article can you evaluate the origin of your online sources.
You’ll also want to be cognizant of Internet plagiarism. It can be easy to make mistakes when citing your sources, so be careful to site any online sources you use properly using APA format. This website will actually do it for you once you plug in the information!

There are also just a few basic computer skills you should have before tackling your first online course. Ask yourself if you can do the following:

• Insert hyperlinks/remove hyperlinks
• Create a folder/save and organize documents in that folder
• Attach documents to an email
• Convert a word document to a pdf/Convert a pdf to a work document
• Operate your web camera
• Operate your computer microphone/speakers

If you can perform these basic functions, you should be able to complete your online course with relative ease. But should you come across any issues, you should ask your instructor or other classmates for help. YouTube is also a fantastic (and FREE) source for tutorials for just about anything you can imagine.

Understand your institution’s system requirements

Most colleges have system requirements for their learners. You can likely find these on the college’s website before you enroll. If not, you should definitely inquire as to what they are before you start taking your classes. You’ll want to make sure that you have some knowledgeable in those systems so you can focus on coursework. Popular system requirements for online colleges include:

• Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel, Access)
• Windows XP/ Windows 7 or later/ iOS, Mac OSX
• Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari
• Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Slack

Understand your institution’s learning management system

Before your classes begin, you should be sure to check out your school’s learning management system (LMS). Learning management systems, including Blackboard, Canvas, and Litmos, are software applications used to deliver, administer, and track online education courses. This is the system you will use while enrolled to access and turn in assignments, communicate with your instructor, and participate in discussions with your classmates. Learning management systems make online education feasible because they provide a hub for everything involved in your online class.
Some colleges may grant you access to their LMS as soon as you have enrolled in your class. Once you have access, you should take the time to get comfortable with it. If there is an online training course or instruction on your institution’s LMS, watch it and get as comfortable with it as possible so you can be prepared for your first assignment. Some schools may also offer a test account so you can try out the LMS before you decide whether to enroll.

You don’t have to master all of these skills, but if you have basic knowledge of how they work and what they are capable of, you should do just fine in the online classroom setting. Again, be sure to ask for help! Although your classroom is online, your instructors and classmates are there with different skills. Take advantage and learn from them!

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