Whether you are a seasoned online student, or a new student unsure of what to expect in your online classes, here are some useful tips to get you thinking about being successful in our courses.

  • Get Familiar with the Canvas Learning Management system.Take time to understand Canvas and all it has to offer before taking your first course. Refer back to the ISS Orientation for tips and tools for using Canvas effectively.  You can also go to “Info & Help” in any Canvas course to find more Canvas tutorials. Then as soon as your courses open up, take time to understand  the layout of the course, as each ISS course is unique.

  • Learn to communicate online professionally and effectively. Professional communication is a key to lifelong success. Learning about and practicing good online communication habits is critical to getting the most out of your ISS degree. The Social Sciences deal with difficult and messy topics, and discussion, disagreement, and even argument over ideas is common and expected. Learning to managing fraught conversations in a productive, respectful manner will enhance everyone’s learning and experience in ISS. ISS has developed a set of Online Communications Guidelines to ensure everyone benefits from professional communications.

  • Read the syllabus and course information carefully. This is where your instructor will post important information about grading, late assignments, communication, and helpful resources for the course. Many instructors will include a downloadable syllabus, even if much of the content is elsewhere in the website. Be sure to read this over and refer back to it if you ever have any questions about course policies.

  • Tip for Written Work: It is helpful to first compose your work and discussion responses (at least the textual parts and research citations) in a word processing program, save it and, the cut and paste it onto Canvas and/or your portfolio. This will save you from losing your work and it will also provide you with a nice set of notes from which you can work from as you do your coursework.

  • Stay Organized: Keep track of all the work you submit in separate sets of folders on your computer. How you organize these is up to you, but you should consider keeping a folder for each class, and subfolders for each week or assignment or subject within that class. Another set of folders for your portfolio work is also highly recommended. Do not rely on Canvas or your instructor to keep this material! Keep your own copies, and back up your work often.

  • Ask for help.  

    • If you are struggling with understanding course material or assignments, take advantage of “General Discussion” or “HUB” forums your instructor may have established for discussion. Your peers are a great resource and may also have similar questions, and instructors usually keep a close eye on these boards as well..  

    • If you are dealing with a personal hardship or have questions about specific course content or grading, contact your professor following their guidelines - usually through UW email or the Canvas messaging system.

    • If you are having trouble with the technologies involved in your online learning, use our Tech Help pages or contact UW IT (help@uw.edu).

    • If you need advice about managing your courses, approaching your instructor with questions or requests, or planning which courses to take in the future, be sure to contact your adviser.  

  • Check Canvas and your UW e-mail account four to five times a week (at least). Ideally you will check Canvas and e-mail everyday! These help you stay connected to the course and are the primary ways you will receive announcements and important correspondence from your instructors and advisers. Be sure to read through the Course Announcements at the beginning of every week; the Announcements page is where your instructor will post all course information and updates as well as helpful course resources and tips on upcoming assignments. 

  • Review our Time Management resources for in-depth discussion of these important topics!