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Ready for Online Learning?

Are you ready to take an online course?

Learning through online courses will differ from the classroom experience. Like the on-campus classroom, University of Minnesota Morris faculty with expert knowledge in the course topic will guide you through the semester. However, online learning requires that you take a more active approach to learning.

Successful online students are prepared and motivated in ways that help them learn in an online course format, in which:

  • Students create their own schedule, work from written directions, plan for two to three hours of homework per credit per week, and actively seek out the instructor when questions or difficulties arise
  • Web pages, email, bulletin boards, and chat rooms are used for activity and communication
  • The same amount of content is covered as in the on-campus version of that course; therefore, the same amount of time and effort is required
  • Discipline and motivation are needed to work in a less structured schedule, as there is not a regular class time in an online course
  • Students must initiate contact with their instructors to ask questions or request assistance
  • Students need to feel comfortable expressing themselves in writing as online learning relies on the written word for class discussions and all other communication
  • Students are expected to complete class assignments on time, just as in an on-campus course

Online Learning Preparation

Prepare your computer with tools for online learning. You will need a computer, a high-speed internet connection, the recent version of any web browser (Chrome preferred), and access to common tools and software like word processors, email, etc. Some courses may have other software or technology requirements as well. All courses offered through the Morris Online Learning program use Canvas, a Learning Management System. Technology Help - Available by phone, email, online, or in person.

Prepare your access to online courses. Your University Internet ID and password allows you access to your online course. If you are new to the University of Minnesota, you will be provided with a University assigned student ID number, University Internet ID, and email address once you are enrolled in an online course. You should initiate your University Internet ID and email account online. If you have any questions or need assistance, contact the Help Desk at 320-589-6150 or

Learn about the course management system for your Online Learning course. Morris Online Learning courses use Canvas

Note the best way to communicate with your instructor. Your instructor will give instructions in the syllabus or contact you with information about their preferred method for communication. Most instructors use University email as their primary means of communication with their students.

Review specific course requirements. Other methods of communication will be utilized at the instructor’s discretion. Please take time to familiarize yourself with these methods by downloading any required software as requested by your instructor and trying it out before it is needed for an assignment.

Plan your study schedule using your course syllabus. Your course instructor will provide an online course syllabus, which you should read by the end of your first day of class. Each syllabus includes details about course structure and expectations, including how the course will be conducted, a list of dates for assignments and exams, and how student work will be evaluated. If you have any questions about the syllabus, please ask your instructor immediately about the areas in question to eliminate confusion about course expectations. You should print and keep a copy of your syllabus even after the course has ended. Having syllabi available from your courses may help you to transfer your credits.

Schedule assignment deadlines and exams. Add your class assignments to your Google calendar. Use your Google calendar to set reminders and deadlines for assignments and exams.

Schedule your time wisely to complete assignments

Each course will involve a significant time commitment for reading, interaction with the class and faculty, working on assignments, and preparing for exams. Plan on spending two to three hours of homework per credit on each course each week. For example, a four-credit class often requires eight to twelve hours of preparation outside of class per week. You should set aside a regularly scheduled time for study. Schedule study time when you are able to concentrate for at least one hour and at a place which is free from distractions.

Online Learning Success

Develop your reading skills

Reading comprehension is critical to successful online learning. Reading skills can be developed by concentrating on what you are reading and by taking frequent pauses to organize, review, or re-read the material you have just studied. At the end of each study session, note important points or questions you may have about the material.

If you find that it is difficult to read online materials for extended periods of time, or if you prefer to highlight text and take notes in the margins as you read, you should download and print hard copies of reading assignments and communications. Downloading or printing copies of reading materials may also be useful for students who have a slow Internet connection or who may not have 24-hour access to a computer.

Stay on track with your work

Keep up with the material. Online course assignments are broken into “weeks” to reflect what would be covered during a regular college week. If you carefully read the material each week and work on the assignments, you shouldn’t fall behind. Completion of each section of the course is required prior to advancing to the next section.

In order to pass an Online Learning course, students must complete and turn in all of the formal assignments and tests, which will be clearly indicated, and actively participate as required by the instructors.

For questions or concerns, please contact the Morris Online Learning office. Refer to our Online Learning Faculty and Meet the Staff pages.