8. Participating in Online Courses


(25 minutes)


Student success is directly linked to student involvement. So get ready to be more engaged in your online classes!

In this module we will discuss the best way to start your new online course. An ideal online course will encourage students to actively engage in their learning process.

In this module you will learn how to do the best by:

  • Preparing for your Online Learning Management System (Ex:Canvas)
  • Logging into your class site and starting to read
  • Getting the most out of your online course
  • Learning the techniques of online class discussion

Getting off to the Right Start

So, what is first thing to do after your initial login to your online course?
You review and learn as much as you can about the Learning Management System provided by your school. These web portals host your online courses.

Each school uses a different LMS but they all share the same features and functions. You will need a username and password to access your course materials, as well as the tools for interacting and communication purposes.

As previously stated, Los Angeles Valley College, a member of Los Angeles Community College District, uses Canvas as their Learning Management tool for their online course delivery system.

Canvas provides a number of text based and video based tutorials for students. These tutorials or orientations are designed to give you the information and tools you need to successfully learn about your course and complete the assignments.

Your instructor might provide you with links to some beginner tutorials or you can always find more tutorials online or at Virtual Valley Web site.

First Week of Your Online Course

Most online courses begin with an introductory module called “Start Here.” This page is the best way to get started in your course.

It might contain several pages including:

  • Welcome letter
  • Meet your instructor
  • About the book and the course
  • What is covered each week
  • Grading and evaluation criteria
  • Due dates
  • Resources and links important to your course
  • On-campus resources and support services and more

Your instructor will then ask you to access the syllabus link, in Course Navigation. The syllabus will provide you with all the necessary information about the class, objectives of the course, and a sense of what the course will be like.

It will look very much like your other course syllabuses, but it will include additional information necessary for online courses.

Many instructors will give a simple introductory activity under the Discussions link. Most introductory discussions are a chance for you, your instructor, and your classmates to get to know each other. He or she might ask you to reply to other classmate’s responses.

Online Learning Strategies

A key factor in your success with online classes is self-discipline.
You need to be independent, organized, and motivated. You should take responsibility for your own learning. You need to make plans and stick to them.

Here are a few success strategies for you to use during your online course:

You will be participating in a variety of learning activities which will help you discover your preferred learning style. Don’t procrastinate, look at your course components and pay attention to their due dates.

Don’t wait until the last moment to submit your assignments. Remember your life and work related obligations. Technical glitches can happen last minute. Don't wait until 11:59 p.m. to submit an assignment you’ve known about for several weeks.

Read your syllabus and course schedule and print them. Create your own calendar for when you will complete assignments and assessments. Check the course news regularly for changes in the class schedule and add any changes to your calendar promptly.

College is all about learning about yourself. It is okay to make mistakes; this is how we learn. So apply what you have learned from your mistakes and try not to make them again.

Take breaks when your instructor has a long lecture or if they have several short lectures. Get up and move around every 20 minutes or so, walk outside.

Disconnecting from content and returning to it increases comprehension of what you have just read or heard, and don’t even try to write that 10-page paper at noon on Sunday that needs to be submitted in 12 hours. Instead, write a page or so during the week and you will be done in no time.

Take good notes when listening to lectures or reading research. Just like in the traditional classroom, your notes are handy review tools for quizzes and exams. The action of writing actually helps with comprehension and retention.

Even though you may be required to respond to a certain number of classmates, respond to more. Try to craft your responses for relevance and completeness. Stating "I agree" means nothing to an instructor.

If you back it up with research from your text and professional publications, you are creating a learning moment, not only for yourself but for your classmates as well.

It has been shown that logging into your online course is associated with higher grades for students. Get into the habit of checking the site frequently and consistently to read discussion posts, check for instructor announcements, or review additional course materials. Become active participants in discussions.

Review your notes before quizzes and exams. While taking notes is one thing, using them to review from is another.

Peer to peer interactions are critical in understanding and sorting through the contents of the class. The discussion activity is a fantastic way to get started. Reach out to a fellow student, send an email to ask a question, or create a small study group. Add a tutor to your study group and you'll really be able to notice a positive difference!

Do’s and Don'ts of Online Class Discussions

All the education research shows that more participation in class discussion leads to better learning outcomes, which includes higher student satisfaction, higher levels of perceived learning, and higher levels of actual learning.

So, here are few points to consider when posting on discussion boards. Remember, you are encouraged to provide your honest viewpoint, but be respectful of the views of your classmates.


  • Use correct grammar and spelling
  • Read the topic and reflect on what you would like to say; review your notes before posting
  • Respect the privacy, beliefs, and opinions of your classmates
  • Read each other’s ideas without attacking each other’s personally
  • Remember to treat others as you would want to be treated
  • Use humor and sarcasm carefully; students cannot see your facial expressions or hear any voice inflections


  • Don’t type in ALL CAPS- this is regarded as shouting
  • Don’t outburst or flare, this is not the place to vent your anger or start a fight
  • Don’t make inappropriate comments, offensive, sexist, or racist language will not be tolerated


Let's recap. Students struggle in college NOT because of intellect but because of time management, organization, and lack of quality study time. But the good news is, there are ways to combat this: specifically, by doing things like creating a regular study schedule, studying in groups, and following good and practical online learning strategies.

Help Links

Class Login

Canvas Login Instructions

  1. In a web browser, go to https://mycollege.laccd.edu
  2. LoginID/UserID: Your 9-digit student ID number (example: 881234567 or 900123456)
  3. Password: Same as your SIS password (where you registered for the class). Show me.