What are the expectations of me as a student enrolled in an online course?

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2021-08-20 16:53

Learning in an online environment is not easy; time and effort are required to ensure an understanding of both the online environment and the course content.  In this post, we provide you with a summary of the expectations the Online Learning Center (OLC) has of students learning online; please also see our complementary post on expectations we have of  faculty members teaching online.  As a student, we recommend you fully employ the following expectations, giving yourself every opportunity to be successful in the online environment – your grade and ability to continue as a Webster student depends on it!


Expectations of Students

  • Be an active, engaged participant in the virtual classroom, typically logging in 4-7 days a week
  • Be able to use technology effectively
    • Need to brush up on your technology skills?  As a Webster student, you have access to free, on-demand training through Lynda.com.
  • Be able to complete assignments by stated deadlines
  • Be able to use written communication effectively
  • Be able to work with others in completing projects, as necessary
  • Seek assistance from the instructor, Library, Academic Resource Center, IT Service Desk and other university departments as needed
    • When assistance is needed, it is expected that you find a solution to your problem or come to a resolution in a timely manner, so that you can continue making progress on your course.  If you need assistance in that regard, please contact the Online Student Services Team for support (contact info below).
  • Appropriately cite or reference material that is not your own in all discussions, assignments and other course work


Tips for Success

We understand that as a student enrolled in online courses, one of the benefits you are seeking is the flexibility to manage your coursework in addition to all of the other responsibilities you have on your plate.  However, this does not mean your coursework should be held to a lower priority.  Here are some tips to help you manage it all.


Be self-motivated and self-disciplined.
With the freedom and flexibility of the online environment comes responsibility. The online learning process takes real commitment and discipline; every week counts in an accelerated term. If you have obligations that will make it impossible to log in for more than a few days, consider taking a term or two off, so that when you return you will have the time to fully dedicate yourself to your coursework.


Be willing to “speak up” if problems arise.
If you are experiencing difficulty on any level (either with the technology or with the course content), you must explicitly communicate about your struggles in a timely manner; otherwise, no one will know you are struggling or have an opportunity to help resolve the situation.


Have regular and reliable access to a computer and the internet.
You must have the access to the necessary equipment.  If you are relying on only one computer or internet connection, have a back-up plan for how you would access your online course should that computer or connection be down for any length of time.  You will still need to login and participate in your course, even if your computer is broken or internet has been disconnected.


Be willing and able to commit to 9 to 15 hours per week per course.
Studying online is not easier than the traditional educational process. In fact, many students will say it requires much more time and commitment. You should budget about 3-5 hours per week per credit hour (e.g., 9-15 hours per week for a 3-credit hour course) for coursework.  Try to log into your course each day, if possible. To commit to your course:

  • Set a schedule for yourself and stick to it!
  • Let others know when you plan to be online each day to help minimize distractions.

Pay attention to university deadlines for drops and withdrawals.
Knowing when you can drop or withdraw from a course could save your GPA and a significant amount of money. If you drop a course by the Friday of Week 1, you will receive a full refund and no academic penalty. Until the Friday of Week 6, you can withdraw yourself from a course without impact on your GPA, though you will have a W on your transcript.


Be able to communicate through writing effectively.
Active participation in the learning process is essential to your understanding of the subject matter.  The structure of an online course means much of this will be done through reading and writing, but it also provides you the opportunity to carefully think through your responses before sharing them with others.  Courses at Webster University have been designed to challenge your thought process and prepare you to confidently discuss your perspectives.  Communicating your ideas effectively and sharing your perspective throughout the term will help you and your classmates learn from one another.


Communicate with your instructor regularly.
Warn instructors ahead of time if you have a legitimate reason to be out of contact for more than a day or two. Students with extenuating circumstances, such as military deployment, should be proactive to inform the instructor, provide documentation, and seek accommodations for while you will be away.


Do not wait until the last minute.
Read the syllabus thoroughly to familiarize yourself with the instructor’s expectations. Note due dates in a calendar so that you can plan ahead. Waiting until the last minute is not a good strategy, since network, power, or system outages could hamper your ability to meet a deadline.



Should you ever need more information about what it takes to be a successful online student, contact the Online Learning Center's Student Services Team at studyonline@webster.edu or (866) 622-0888.  We are here to support you as you learn online!


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