Guide Content

Technical Skills
You must know how to work efficiently on a computer and navigate around online and offline electronic environments. Computer- and Internet-related proficiencies that will come in handy as an online student include knowing how to:
  • copy, paste, delete, and save files;
  • download and install software;
  • keep your computer in good working order, including proper maintenance and backup procedures;
  • use word processing software (Microsoft Word, Google Docs, etc.), presentation software (Microsoft PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, etc.), and spreadsheet software (Microsoft Excel, Google Docs Spreadsheets, etc.),, depending on the program enrolled in;
  • create PDF documents;
  • attach documents to e-mail communications;
  • be information literate — in short, the ability to search effectively online, including analyzing resources and the utilization of an online library service;
  • manage and organize computer files and folders;
  • effectively use a web browser and its favorites folder;
  • participate in synchronous and/or asynchronous discussion forums; and
  • navigate within an online course management system where many of the elements of your course will be displayed.

Most online programs provide students with online orientation sessions that are facsimiles of an actual online course. Many programs will require that you enroll in an online orientation session prior to taking your first full course. Sometimes these courses will award students with one credit upon successful completion. You also typically can find free demonstrations of actual online courses, open to the general public, at many of the online programs’ websites.

Course Technologies
Like any higher education course, there will more than likely be a good amount of reading and writing required of you. Depending on the technology being utilized, you can expect some viewing and listening to digitized audio and video presentations and PowerPoint slide shows. The utilization of modern, “Web 2.0” educational technologies (podcasting, social media, blogging, etc.) may also come into play. Other elements of an online course could include taking online quizzes and exams, participating in live chat sessions and teleconferences, the use of a whiteboard in a live teleconference (it acts similarly to a chalkboard in a traditional classroom), and viewing sophisticated digitized simulations related to course subject matter.