Online Learning Success

Is Online Learning Right For You?

Don't live in the Houghton area? That's OK! Online learning at Michigan Tech, which provides greater flexibility, can fit around your busy schedule wherever you are. With proper planning, the convenience of online learning allows you to upgrade or change your career path.

Excelling as an online student, just as it is with being an in-person student, means conscientiously making a plan for success.

Online learning is not easier learning. That is, Michigan Tech online students, regardless of their program, receive the same rigorous education, at the same pace, along the same path as campus students. 

In fact, online courses can require as much if not more time than in-preson courses. Plan to spend a minimum of three-four hours of work per week per credit hour. On some weeks, you may have more or less work.

For the most part, just as in in-person classes, how you do in an online course is up to you. Being a good student takes time, dedication, and hard work.

Here are some tips for online learning success:


  • Acquire your own textbooks and any required materials as soon as possible.
  • Make sure you have reliable access to adequate technology and resources.

  • Watch the video about the Learning Management System you will be using for your courses. If you've been out of school for a while and/or have never used Canvas, it is especially important that you view this tutorial.
  • Manage your schedule. Just like your job, you should dedicate specific times to working on your course. Doing so will prevent others from disturbing you, keep you on pace, and avoid the stress of falling behind.
  • Be self-disciplined. Online learning at Michigan Tech is not "learn at your pace." There are assignments and deadlines, just as in in-person classes.
  • Allocate a specific quiet, distraction-free place for working on your course.
  • Read and view materials carefully and closely, taking ample notes.
  • Plan, plan, plan. Power goes out, computers crash, and files get destroyed. Working ahead will help you meet these and other challenges with calmness and resourcefulness.
  • Interact regularly with your classmates and your instructor.
  • Participate enthuiastically in course discussions and activities.
  • Be proactive! Don't be afraid to email your instructor if you have inquiries about the course or the materials. If you are stuck, reach out right away. 
  • Attend any recommended or optional online office hours. 
  • Find a proctor for exams (if necessary)

Read About Online Learning's History

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

"It's easy for me to see the look on in-class students faces when a topic is unclear. It's trickier to gauge this for online students. The reverse is true, too. Sometimes off-campus students make assumptions about what is or is not important. I clear up questions in real time via email, video, or Canvas collaboration tools. My approach to class is to be extremely organized yet approachable. Making this known to online students is key for having a successful class."

Gordon Parker
Gordon Parker
John and Cathi Drake Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering