Tips to Help You Succeed Online: 

  • Access the class in CANVAS three days before the class start date, so you’ll be aware of course expectations.
  • Make sure you understand the type of distance education course you are enrolled in. Some classes allow you to choose the dates/times you work and submit assignments  (before the assignment deadline) while other types require you to be logged in at specific dates/times for class participation and assignment submission.  If you have questions, contact your Navigator.
  • Review the CANVAS course shell, including these tabs:  Home, Syllabus, and Modules.  Most of your questions will be answered in these sections, or through your instructor’s emails. 
  • Print your syllabus! It will have information about the professor and course in case you have trouble signing in or contacting your professor. If you sign up for online classes, you must have a working computer to complete your assignments—either a personal computer or one in a library. Do not rely on a smartphone to complete assignments. Check the course syllabus for technology requirements, prior to the class start date. Make sure your technology/internet service is sufficient for the class requirements. 
  • Always be prepared! Have a backup device and a plan in the event of an internet outage or other technical problem.  Plan to submit assignments before the deadline, so you have time to address challenges.  For technology issues, outreach first to your professor, or contact the SFCC Central Help Desk 24/7 at (866) 295-3070.Check your campus email and CANVAS Course Shell daily. Watch for updates, announcements and changes in schedule. 
  • Don’t procrastinate! Submit assignments early or on time. Falling behind can lead to failure in the course.  Students may find it takes longer to complete assignments online, as you have to write all questions instead of speaking them in class.  Establish a schedule and daily routine to work on your courses and stick to it – this can help you manage the stress of a heavy work and study load. 
  • Read everything your instructor posts. You never know when instructors might make updates or give helpful hints.
  • Try to create and maintain a schedule as if you were actually going to class on campus. Set specific days and times to login and complete assignments.
  • Create a calendar, planner or course agenda to keep track of the module assignments, and check them off as you complete and submit them. For more details, see below, ‘Set a Schedule’.
  • Make sure you have a time and place to work undisturbed.
  • Remember to communicate professionally and use proper “netiquette.” Proofread everything before submitting.  When in a face-to-face course, the professor can see and respond to non-verbal expressions, such as confusion.  If you have questions or need support, share that feedback to the professor through their preferred form of contact.
  • Be respectful of other people’s cultures and viewpoints.
  • Respect your instructors. Remember, they are still instructors; they’re simply using a different method to teach.
  • Make the most of online discussions. Use instructor and student interaction as a learning tool. Your Instructor will ask you to participate in interactive activities, such as Zoom sessions or an online discussion forum. Participation is essential. You will be most successful when you are fully present, when you engage in discussions, and when you take opportunities to ask and answer questions. Your interactions with instructors, classmates and course resources affect your learning and success.
  • Develop a meaningful connection with fellow students. Online connections promote a sense of being a learner among other learners.
  • Ask your professor for tips on how to succeed or for help with anything you don’t understand. Always try to contact your professor before contacting other staff when there is an issue with the course. Take responsibility for your learning. 
  • Know when to ask for help, and don’t wait! Contact your professor, or use SFCC’s free Tutoring Services.
  • Complete larger assignments or your least favorite assignment first. Break larger assignments down into more manageable chunks of work.
  • If offered the chance to earn extra credit, do it! You never know how the extra points might help your grade at the end of the course.

Study habits that may assist you:

Stay Organized

  • Identify all due dates for assignments. Watch for updates from your professor.
  • Know specific times required for your course participation.
  • Find live stream, lecture capture and other course resources and requirements.
  • Know how to submit assignments, quizzes and tests. Use the ‘CANVAS for Students’ practice course to learn these skills.
  • Find out the best way to ask for help.
  • Does your professor offer virtual office hours?
  • Is there an online forum for asking questions?
  • Know how to access your professor for help.

Avoid Multitasking

If you’re doing work on your own and your time is less structured, you might be tempted to multitask. Many people think they can do multiple things at once. But research shows us that only about 2% of the population can multitask. Even if you feel like you’re multitasking, you’re probably not… really, you’re switching between tasks very quickly (some call this “micro-tasking”).

The downsides of multitasking and micro tasking:

  • Assignments take longer. Each time you come back to an assignment (from Instagram for example), you have to get familiar with it, find your spot, remember what you were going to do next, etc.
  • You’re more likely to make mistakes. Distractions and switching between tasks tires out the brain.
  • You’ll remember less. When your brain is divided, you’re less able to commit what you’re learning to long-term memory (because it doesn’t get encoded properly into your brain).

What to do instead:

  • When you need to study something important, consider The Magic of Monotasking.
  • Focus on one thing at a time.
  • Take breaks between tasks.
  • Consider the “pomodoro method” to help you focus for 25- or 50-minute periods and then reward your-self with 5- or 10-minute breaks.

(Multitasking Information from University of Michigan)

Make the Most of Video Lectures

  • Stick to your instructor’s schedule as much as you can.
  • Close distracting tabs and apps.
  • Continue to take notes as you would if you were there in person.
  • Watch recordings at normal speed. Research shows that playback speed of 1.5 can lower your retention and can result in lower scores on assessments. 

Set a Schedule

  • Setting a schedule can help you provide structure and keep you motivated.  If you don’t already keep a daily and weekly/monthly calendar, try something like the example below to organize your time.  A daily calendar will help you see all tasks due today. A weekly/monthly calendar will keep you oriented to your course assignments and due dates for the semester for all classes.  You will see all assigned readings, assignment due dates, and quiz/test dates in one place.  Include time for exercise and self-care.

Trade your strategies for new ones

Your routines may have to adjust for you to be successful in your classes.  Look for ways to adapt your usual habits or form new ones.

  • Ask yourself what kind of environment helps you study. See if you can create that in your home.  Maybe it is studying in a chair, rather than your couch or bed.  If you always study in groups, try a virtual or phone-based study session with a group.
  • If you thrive on tight timelines, think about how working with others or setting up a schedule can create that sense of urgency. Review your syllabus and break down large assignments into smaller tasks, with due dates.

Working with a group or team

Remote collaboration will look a little different.

  • Try not to procrastinate. Group projects require you to work with other students’ schedules, not just your own.  Outreach early, establish reoccurring dates when the group will meet virtually.
  • Break up the tasks, make individual assignments, and determine due dates with the team for your parts of the project.
  • Consider using a shared document for your project.
  • Meet your obligations. Your team is counting on you!
  • Consider quick texts every couple of days, to provide your team updates and encouragement.   
  • If you haven’t heard from a team member in several group meetings, outreach to them directly to check in. If you still haven’t heard back from them, outreach to your professor.  The student may need their help!

Stay Connected to other people

Staying in touch with instructors, classmates and group mates is important.  So is staying connected to family and friends.  Balance is important to your overall health. 

  • Talking to loved ones is often helpful when you’re stressed or nervous about something.
  • Your Navigator and professors are part of your resource team at SFCC.
  • Attend virtual office hours or study groups to you stay up on your coursework.

Accessing Academic Resources online:

Log into mySFCC, click on library tab, and look for ‘tools and databases’.  Under databases, see External Online Databases.  EBSCO is a good place to start a general search.  If you have questions, don’t hesitate to outreach to the SFCC library team. Contact information is located on the ‘tools’ page.

For online tutoring assistance, go to mySFCC>Resources>Tutoring  & Academic Support or visit the website at

Zoom ‘Best Practices’

  • Be sure the computer or device you are using to connect to the session has a webcam, microphone, and speakers connected to it. It may be helpful to have a headset with a microphone.
  • Connect with a reliable high-speed Internet connection, using a hard-wired connection if available.
  • Choose a location that is quiet with little background noise and no other people around to distract you.
  • Do not sit in front of a window or bright source of light.
  • When joining a meeting via a link, please download and install the Zoom App if prompted.
  • If you have never signed into Zoom, please do so.  See Getting Started in Zoom for step by step instructions.
  • When you join the session you will see the following window after the Zoom application is launched:
  • Click the link to test that the correct microphone and speakers are selected and that both are working properly.
  • You can then click to ‘Join Audio Conference by Computer.’
  • Once you’ve joined a Zoom session, move your mouse over the lower edge of the window to check whether your microphone is open or muted.  Your mic needs to be open when talking, but if you are not actively speaking you may want to consider muting your mic if you anticipate background noise. (Click the microphone icon to mute or unmute as needed.  Use space bar on keyboard to temporarily unmute while talking.)



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