Signs of a Super Online Student

Since Full Sail is on a month-to-month schedule, each month I get a whole new set of students. By the end of the calendar year I’ve taught upward of 1,000 students!

Since I teach online it’s harder to get to know my students than it was when I taught in the classroom. It is, however, possible to make yourself stick out and get noticed as an online student. Here are a few tips for you to be positively remembered by your online teachers:

Show Enthusiasm

You know what online teachers get a lot of?Yep, crickets. I post on that discussion board and eagerly await responses from my students only to get a big bunch of nothing.

Show enthusiasm for your teacher’s subject and for your education. Even if you don’t love writing, give your teacher a chance to show you why she loves it so much and how she can help you get better at it. When students email me or message me and show me their enthusiasm for learning I remember and appreciate them for it.

Be Inquisitive

As I’ve said before, it’s cool to ask for help. Why anyone would not ask questions about something they find confusing is beyond me.  Whether I’m learning a new exercise at the gym, sitting in a meeting at work, or watching a presentation, I always have a lot of questions. I like to get things right, and the only way to be sure you’re doing something correctly is to ask questions. I get so disappointed when students send me frustrated emails about their grades saying that they didn’t know how to do the assignment correctly. Why didn’t you just ask if you were confused? WHY? I don’t get it. Just ask questions. You’ll save us both a lot of trouble down the road.

Satisfy Your Hunger

Your hunger to learn, that is. I expect that if you’re paying a hefty pricetag for your education, you actually want to learn something. I enter every new month of class assuming that every one of my new students is attending Full Sail because he or she wants to learn and acquire new skills. School isn’t about proving that you already know how to do something. It’s about learning how to do something and then applying it in a practical manner. When you come to my class I don’t assume you already know how to write a complete short story–I certainly didn’t when I first got to college–but I do assume that you’re here to learn how, and that you have a desire to obtain that knowledge.

Get Real

Your expectations have to be realistic if you wish to succeed in school. If you spend 30 minutes on a paper and turn it in two minutes before the deadline, can you realistically expect to get a 100% on it? If you don’t speak to your teacher all month, don’t view her feedback, and don’t read the directions on your assignments, can you realistically expect to pass the class? Part of being a student is being realistic about what is being expected of you and what you expect from yourself. Sometimes this means being realistic about what you actually can accomplish. If you have a super busy week and you can’t put 100% into your assignments for the week that’s fine–but you also have to accept that you can’t expect 100% on something you didn’t put 100% into.

Learn From Your Mistakes

Everybody makes mistakes. Some people learn from them, some people don’t. It’s okay to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them. If you fail a class, it’s a good idea to avoid repeating the things you did the first time around when you retake the class. I’m always amazed by how many people try to turn in work that was submitted previously to a different teacher. This is unwise. You’ll most likely get caught, and your new teacher will be baffled as to why you didn’t at least make the changes your previous teacher suggested. Learn from your mistakes. Don’t recycle work that didn’t cut it the first time around. Ask questions to improve your work. Learn and move on.

Remember That Your Teachers Are People, Too

Based on some of the correspondence I’ve had with students, I sometimes wonder if they realize I’m actually a person and not a grading robot. I have sympathy and empathy, to a degree, and I also truly want all of my students to succeed. Trust me, it’s way easier for me in every way if everyone follows the directions, writes well, and passes. That gives me a lot less work to do. I don’t just pick a handful of people every month to pick on and give bad grades to. It’s a ton of work to chase after people who don’t turn in their assignments and it’s a ton of work to comment on a paper that needs a lot of improvement, as opposed to one that’s pretty good. I always do my best to grade fairly and to give people the necessary feedback to succeed on future assignments. I’m human, and I get that other people are human. If you just talk to me, ask questions, and be realistic, you’ll see that I’m not a grading monster out to get you.

This guy is scarier than I am. Unless you cross me; then you’ll be sorry.

Have Some Respect

Have respect for your teachers, certainly, but also for yourself. Allow yourself the opportunity to actually benefit from the education you’re paying money for. Remember that just because you’re paying doesn’t mean you’re owed a certain grade or a degree with no effort. You earn your grades. Again, if you chose to be in school, we expect that you’re here to learn new things and to grow as a person. We respect you enough to hold you to that expectation. You should too. If someone gets out of line with me I have no problem telling them to back up and think about the way they’re approaching the situation–and I do that out of respect for their future as a functioning member of society. You’re welcome.

What else goes into being a super online student? What advice do you have for students who are new to online learning? How do you connect with your online teachers?


About Jaclyn Sullivan

I'm a full time Instructional Designer and a sometimes adjunct professor of English Composition. I have a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida and I'm a published fiction and non-fiction writer. Check me out on LinkedIn: I'm a big fan of post-modern literature and swear by the lessons of Kurt Vonnegut. Some of my favorite writers include Lorrie Moore, Antonya Nelson, Grace Paley, Flannery O'Connor, Louise Erdrich, and Raymond Carver. I like Tom Waits, Andrew Bird, actual birds, pictures of cats, actual cats, animals in general, polka dots, exercise, iced coffee, reading, writing, tv-viewing, the Internet, and food. I dislike rain on days when my hair looks good, sweating, t-rex arms, public bathrooms, books being made into awful movies, and when The Walking Dead is on hiatus.
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13 Responses to Signs of a Super Online Student

  1. Pingback: It Takes Two: What You Should Know About Teachers | Full Sail University Creative Writing for Film and Digital Cinematography

  2. Haylee Becker says:

    Two times in a row I’ve thought to myself
    “What a colorful video she’s posted at the end!”
    And two times in a row I’ve realized that it’s an advertisement.
    But on another note!
    I’ve really enjoyed reading your last two entries associated with the How I Write assignment. I am personally not new to online learning but found it very difficult when I was, in high school. I think the key to online learning is constantly checking in with yourself. I’m dyslexic, sometimes I have better days than others and I really try to utilize that time to get work done. Other days, I have to accept that my eyes and my brain are just not in the mood. I try not to be hard on myself when I need to take a minute to watch The Daily Show (with the DVR it only takes 21 minutes!) or eat a cupcake, or seven. I think it’s important to be realistic as well. I know I can’t send you fifteen e-mails a day
    and I try to be as sincere with an online teacher and class as would with one on campus. I must say however, I think a good online teacher is crucial to the process. I’ve had some teachers really make me feel the student-teacher connection from miles away and other teachers really fall short. I find your enthusiasm quite infectious and it doesn’t hurt that your writing is very easy for me to read. Which is saying something, since all the letters are backwards and out of order. Or is that just me?
    Thank you heaps!
    Haylee Becker

    • Thanks so much for your reply, Haylee! I’m glad that so far the English Comp experience has been good for you. Feel free to reach out any time. I definitely try to make sure all of my online students feel like there’s a real person behind the computer screen and it’s good to know it’s working for someone!

  3. Brian "Atgid" Crawford says:

    I love all the points that you made in this post along with the silly pictures and videos. It’s been kind of rough this first two weeks but I feel a lot better now that I’m settled in. I joined the Navy 4 years ago just to have this opportunity. I chuckled a bit when I heard you say, “Grading Robot” and about the crickets chirping. Also, in the “Satisfy your hunger” portion I was more so thinking about the grumbling in my belly at first. I had take some old Ramen noodle recipes out the book. lol

    Good thing I’ll get that G.I. bill soon. 🙂

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Brian! Beginning any new program is rough, which is exactly why I like to ease people in and get them comfortable with me and my teaching style. Feel free to reach out for help anytime this month!

  4. I was so tickled by the photo you pic for this project. I am very new to online classes and it has been a struggle for me but I am hanging in there and studying everyday. I have always been nervous about writting. And after I watched these videos and looked thru the pictures I realize I must write to be successful in my line of buisness.

    Thank you for the sense of humor used to get your point across and I hope you never make us write on the chalk board like

  5. Hello,

    Great post! Now I know what I need to become a super online student! Thanks Mrs. Sullivan for such great source of information.

  6. William *Billy* Carlin says:

    Honestly, I couldn’t put this into words any better if I had written it myself. I’ve always found the brighter side of writing. Though I’ve never written a complete story, as far as Facebook goes I’m constantly writing stuff in there that I get good feedback on. I’ve had writing assignments that teachers gave me as punishments and I always found some kind of way to turn it to my advantage whether it be comical or trying to change the teacher’s point-of-view. I mostly drift to the side of comical though… More fun that way.

  7. As the great Kurt Vonnegut once said, “Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” I, too, have always found that comedy is often the best route to take.

  8. Hello Ms. Sullivan,

    This was pretty inspirational stuff. I appreciate the fact that you are reaching out to your students and making this more personal. Online classes have been semi tuff when not being able to talk to your instructors during the course. I’m a DJ in a touring reggae band and always on the run. When i opened up the course and saw that there was a number i could text to get reminders for assignments I was pretty excited. With so much going on all the time things like homework are definitely on the “DO NOT” forget list, along with Keys, wallet, and show dates. I feel as if i’m going to enjoy this class. I get to let my imagination do some stuff. I was already thinking about what kind of short story i would write and my first thought made me laugh. Not mentionable In class i think though. I look forward to reading more from you in this class and in the future.

    Ps: the video of the astronaut jumping out of that thing is so gnarly. I love the outdoors and adventure in itself. Seeing things no one has ever seen and going places no one has ever been is a childhood dream that most often filters out of people once they hit adulthood and get into that daily 9-5 grind. It’s a shame that most people in society are totally happy being the robot they have turned into. Did you know that 95% of the ocean is still unexplored. OMG. Can i please??? You know what I mean?

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Michael! Curiosity is a wonderful thing, as is imagination. Ms. Oquendo, your instructor, is fantastic and she’ll be a wonderful guide for you and your writing journey this month. I’ll be sure to check in with her class periodically to see what you guys are up to. I already told her that it looks like she got a great group of students!

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