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Online Learning – The Student Perspective

Students at Virginia’s Community Colleges were asked to discuss their experiences as online students and to provide ideas on what would help them be successful in online classes.  

Student desire course that is well designed and easy to navigate including:

  • Specific deadlines
  • Consistency
  • Calendars
  • Comprehensive instructions – takes time to clarify
  • Checklists
  • Be clear on what you expect of student so they can determine if they can handle the course
  • Be realistic -- don’t overwhelm them
  • Provide a detailed syllabus
  • Provide detailed information on the course
  • Related assignments – focused on what is expected on the exam
  • Study guides are helpful
  • Provide practice tests
  • Supplementary materials – videos, virtual labs are helpful
  • For papers – liked peer editing


  • Don’t like large group sessions -- overwhelming
  • Want to be walked through the process – BB, navigation, etc.
  • Want help with time management
  • Online orientation would be helpful/appreciated

Contact with Instructor and Students

  • Meeting faculty member is important
  • Contact with faculty member faculty (online) presence very important
  • Contact with other students
  • Suggested discussion forum where students could talk with each other
  • More student-to-student interaction
  • Think live interaction with faculty member is beneficial
  • Academic support/resources
  • Some got a library tutorial; others didn’t; once is enough
  • Want to be able to get a book without coming to campus
  • Think online tutoring would be beneficial – can’t come to campus; have to seek help elsewhere
  • Problems with math and statistics – needed help especially on weekends
  • Came to campus to take tests; get books; participate in study sessions; biology labs

Course activities

  • Liked practical assignments -- added value for the student
  • Think proctored tests are important
  • Did not like lecture method – prefer interaction, student centered activity
  • Liked faculty active in the discussion activities
  • Liked having whole course available – plan ahead; know what’s coming
  • Liked study supplements, (optional) review sessions; flash cards – study aids

Support activities

  • Suggested online survival skills course
  • Help desk is important; available when needed
  • Online services would be beneficial -- Access to services not available evenings and weekends – times when they could come to campus; one could not get to campus
  • Want to get email in one place
  • Bookstore was a bottleneck – lines, not open when they could get to campus, problems with grants/financial aid
  • Would like study groups
  • Think students could help each other; utilize virtual classroom; provide student email addresses
  • Think colleges should require a computer literacy test before enrolling in online courses

Useful Resources:

LDOnline offers resources for faulty that support their understanding of Learning Disabilities.

E Learning News.net is an resource center for online instructors

Last Modified 8/9/10