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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Personal Success Strategies for Online Students

 Online learning: Keys to success

Created by Dr. Melanie McNaughton

​​Prep Yourself

browserBecome familiar with the support and services offered by Bridgewater State University to online learning students.

Ensure your computer meets the minimal technical requirements needed to take part in an online course. To verify that your browser will work with Blackboard, visit Blackboard’s Browser Support page. In addition, use Blackboard’s Browser Checker feature to ensure that your browser has all the necessary plug-ins to use Blackboard on your computer. Contact Information Technology at 508.531.2555 or​ for browser assistance.​

Establish a consistent, preferably distraction and stress-free course work environment. The less distractions, the more you can focus on your course work and the learning experience. Starbucks is not ideal as your go-to course work environment.

Participate Fully

Fully read and understand the course syllabus. Explore all areas of your Blackboard course site. And ask questions about ANYTHING you don't understand.

Participate as much as possible! The more you participate in course discussions and group projects, the more you'll get out of your learning experience.


Online courses require more self-motivation than the typical face-to-face course. To stay on task and connected with your instructor, classmates, and course work, be sure to log into your Blackboard course site and BSU email once a day, even if you don’t perform any course work actions.  Check due dates on upcoming assignments to make sure you're on task.

On average, expect to dedicate approximately 9 hours on course work each week, similar to a face-to-face course.

Stay Organized


Review assignment due dates so you know what’s coming up soon. Create a schedule for yourself to help stay organized using organizational tools such as Microsoft OneNote and Microsoft Outlook. Don't procrastinate and wait until the night before a due date to begin working on an assignment.

When contributing to online discussion forum posts, draft your posts in Microsoft Word, frequently save the document, and then copy and paste your post into your online discussion forum. By doing so, you don't risk losing your post if you suddenly lose access to the internet or Blackboard.

Stay Focused

It is tempting to check out your social media accounts, have the TV on in the background, surf the web, and pay online bills while you’re in the middle of your online course work.  While breaks can be a welcome refresher for your body and mind, you want to avoid multi-tasking on various tasks at once. Multi-tasking typically means that rather than doing one task well with your full focus engaged, you are doing multiple tasks poorly with only partial attention on each of them. When working on online course readings and assignments, keep any distractions and other personal work out of sight and out of mind until you are done with your work or ready for a break.

Have a Back-up Plan

Technology will fail from time to time.  When it does, be sure you have a back-up plan in place so that you are impacted as little as possible.

Identify a nearby library, cafe, or family or friend's house with WiFi that you can visit if your home internet service fails.

If you are working on a digital class assignment (i.e. Word document, Excel spreadsheet), be sure to frequently save your work.  In addition, back up your course files to a USB thumb drive, external hard drive, or cloud storage service such as OneDrive.  Video training on using cloud storage services is available via BSU's Hoonuit service.

Protect Yourself

Good password management is pivotal in protecting your online identity. Passwords control access to your computer, BSU e-mail, Blackboard account, and other sensitive information. To learn more about best practices for password management, visit BSU's Password Management security site​.



Before posting to an online discussion forum, please consider the following guidelines for appropriate web-based communications:

  • ​Passion is great; positivity and politeness should also be in step with your passion when communicating with peers and the instructor.
  • To err is human; to forgive is divine. Be gracious when others make spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Even with emoticons, tone and context can often be lost in text-based communications. Keep that in mind when sharing a post that is comical or satirical.
  • Respect the privacy of others. If you are sharing information of a personal nature that impacts a classmate, check with that classmate before posting.
  • Proofread your responses before submitting. Maintain the mindset that anything posted on the web is permanent.
  • Let your instructor know if something that has been posted in your discussion forum is inappropriate or offensive to you.
This page is maintained by the Teaching & Technology Center. Send comments and suggestions to​. Last reviewed 07/05/19.​​