Being a Successful Online Learner

Experience with computer technology

Being a successful learner online does imply that students have both access and prior experience and skills to use certain computer technology. If you need to request adaptive technology or other disability assistance, please visit Counselling & Disability Services for more information. New skills may introduced and opportunities given to develop these. However, it is anticipated that students should be able to:

  • have regular access to a PC or Mac computer with the internet access (broadband internet access might be required)
  • operate the basics of a PC or Mac computer (mouse, keyboard, CD-ROM).
  • use the web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome
  • use word-processing software such as Microsoft Word
  • use email to communicate with the instructors and peers
  • search information using a search engine online
  • post message and have discussion online with peers
  • watch video clips and listen to audio clips online
  • use Adobe Acrobat to access course materials
  • download and upload files online
  • work collaboratively with peers on blogs, wikis, and social networking sites
  • learn to use new technology if necessary

The technological requirements vary from course to course depending on what tools will be used. It is critical to read the syllabus and other important course documents carefully and consult the course instructor if needed to make sure that you:

  • know all the technical requirements as early as possible
  • have access to all the required technological tools, both hardware and software
  • know what to do and where to get the technological support when encountering technological difficulties/problems
  • learn the required skills if needed
  • are familiar with the course policy about late submission and missed coursework and alternative plans due to any technological issues
  • contact the instructor to make arrangement for accommodations if needed
  • contact the instructor for any questions/concerns as early as possible

Mobile access

If you are accessing your course using a mobile device, please note that not all functionality of your eLearning environment may be compatible with different operating systems or browsers of mobile devices. You should only use your mobile device to view course content and never rely on your mobile device for time-sensitive assignment submissions, quizzes, or any other complex functions.

Advice for online learning success

Learners who succeed with the online courses are more likely to:

  • be self- motivated and self-disciplined
  • have good time management skills (e.g. planning their learning schedule in advance, prioritizing their tasks, meeting deadlines, etc.)
  • have a strong sense of self direction (e.g. regulating and adjusting their behavior to course requirements)
  • be able to learn on their own and/or in groups without being in a traditional classroom
  • be willing to participate in online discussions (where this is course element) and feel comfortable expressing themselves in writing
  • have access to the minimum technology (e.g. computer with a fairly fast Internet connection) and adequate proficiency with this technology
  • be comfortable working without the constant presence of a professor
  • take personal responsibility for learning that comes with the freedom and convenience afforded by the online environment
  • be willing to “speak up” when having a problem

University resources to help you become a successful online learner

The University provides a variety of assistance to students to improve success learning courses:

  • Learning Skills Services offers workshops, drop-in, and One-to-One sessions on learning how to learn and academic skills sets.
  • SPARK, the Student Papers and Academic Research Kit, is an eLearning resource designed to help students succeed at written academic assignments. It focuses on the development of academic literacies, such as research, writing and learning skills.
  • The Learning Commons and the Writing Department also offer other workshops and one on one sessions to help improve students’ learning and writing skills.

Academic honesty and integrity

York students are required to uphold the highest standards of academic honesty and integrity as stipulated in the Senate Policy on Academic Honesty.

York University also has a comprehensive resource about academic integrity.

Intellectual property and copyright

Comprehensive information about copyright can be found at York’s copyright site.

Accessibility and disability services

York University is committed to principles of respect, inclusion and equality of all persons with disabilities across campus. The University provides services for students with disabilities (including physical, medical, learning and psychiatric disabilities) needing accommodation related to teaching and evaluation methods/materials. These services are made available to students in all Faculties and programs at York University. Student’s in need of these services are asked to register with disability services as early as possible to ensure that appropriate academic accommodation can be provided with advance notice. You are encouraged to schedule a time early in the term to meet with each professor to discuss your accommodation needs. Please note that registering with disabilities services and discussing your needs with your professors is necessary to avoid any impediment to receiving the necessary academic accommodations to meet your needs. Additional information is available at the following websites:

Sometimes in your online class, you will be asked to accomplish certain rojects/products which your peers will have to access as a requirement of the class. In such situation, you will have to make your projects/products accessible to your peers with special needs. Consult your course instructor as early as possible and use the resources above to comply with the accessibility requirements should the needs arise.

Ethics review process

York students are subject to the York University Policy for the Ethics Review Process for Research Involving Human Participants. In particular, students proposing to undertake research involving human participants (e.g. interviewing the director of a company or government agency, having students complete a questionnaire, etc.) are required to submit an Application for Ethical Approval of Research Involving Human Participants at least one month before you plan to begin the research. If you are in doubt as to whether this requirement applies to you, contact your Course Director immediately.

Religious observance accommodation

York University is committed to respecting the religious beliefs and practices of all members of the community, and making accommodations for observances of special significance to adherents. Should any of the dates for an in-class test or examination specified in a course syllabus pose such a conflict for you, contact the Course Director within the first three weeks of class. Similarly, should an assignment to be completed in a lab, practicum placement, workshop, etc. scheduled later in the term pose such a conflict, contact the Course Director immediately.

Please note that to arrange an alternative date or time for an examination scheduled in the formal examination periods (December and April/May), students must complete an Examination Accommodation Form, which can be obtained from Student Client Services, Student Services Centre or online.

Frequently asked questions

Please check with your faculty and department for eLearning related guidelines, procedures, and policies for students who enroll in blended or fully online courses.

A list of Frequently Asked Questions about  eLearning-related administrative guidelines and policies for students enrolled in blended or fully online courses can be found at the Faculty of the Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (LA&PS).