Students taking online courses should undergo some kind of orientation to ensure that they know how to perform in your class. There are some things to consider:

  • All students are not computer wizzes no matter how old or young they are, so you will want to keep your instructions as clear as possible.
  • Students have different computers, Macintosh, Mac OSX, PC, Windows 7, etc. You will want to consider this if you have detailed instructions about how to do something.
  • Find ways to deliver the content without too many technological hurdles. For example, you may not want to require a student to download a program, install it, and run it, then turn in the results (unless you teach a computer class online). You may want to just make this an extra credit type of activity.
  • Student Internet connectivity. Your students hate to wait for information. Slow connections will leave your students frustrated. If you have too many pictures or too much “fluff” that is irrelevant to instruction, you may need to re-consider your instructional plan.
  • Slow computers. Many students have older computers that are very slow in processing speed. In your syllabus, you should list the minimum computer requirements that is needed to take your internet class.

Baseline Technology Skills

  • Ability to operate a computer to launch applications, knowledge of basic directory structure (folders, files), perform tasks, save, close, copy, paste and rename files.
  • Ability to use a word processor to save in RTF and MS Word formats.
  • Ability to send and receive email and email with attachments.
  • Ability to use a web browser to view and search the Internet.


Instructors may need to give a little extra push to online students initially to ease anxiety. Remember that this is a different learning format than most students are accustomed to, so it is easy to fall off track. The first couple of weeks of an internet class are usually the toughest, as students are logging in for the first time. They may experience problems with their computer, which can result in falling behind. A kind word of encouragement can do wonders for a student in an online class to get them back on track. Below are some links that can be included in the course to help students.