Is Online Learning Right For You?

Are you considering taking a fully online course, or a course that makes significant use of online materials? If so, then you need to know if you are prepared.

This is merely a self-assessment tool and you are welcome to take online courses regardless of how you answer these questions. However, it's important to be honest with yourself and carefully consider your answers to the questions on this page before enrolling in an online course.


1. Do you have regular access to a computer that can connect to the Internet quickly and reliably?

2. Do you have access to the Internet via a cable modem, DSL, or other LAN-type connection (not wireless)?

3. Does your computer have a CD/DVD player?

4. Do you have access to a printer?

5. Do you have, or are you able to obtain a working headset with a microphone?

6. Do you know how to determine what web browser (name and version) you use to view web pages?

7. Do you have access to a computer with the following software?

a. Word processor (e.g., MS Word, OpenOffice, etc.)

b. Mozilla Firefox web browser

c. Browser plug-ins:

i. Adobe Acrobat Reader

ii. Media Players (Flash, Quicktime, RealPlayer, Windows Media)

iii. Java software

d. Virus-scanning Software

8. Are you able to access your ISU email account?

9. Are you comfortable navigating the web with your browser and doing such things as filling out forms, following hyperlinks, using the Back button, and typing URL's into the address bar?


10. Are you able to determine the operating system of your computer, including type and version?

11. Do you know how to modify your computer's general properties or control panels (e.g. desktop appearance, brightness and contrast, icon size, color schemes)?

12. Can you download software from the Internet and install it on your computer?

13. Are you able to create a new folder/directory on your computer hard drive?

14. Can you move files from one folder to another on your computer?

15. Do you know how to copy, rename, save, and cut/delete files and folders/directories?

16. Do you know where you are saving files on your computer or find where you saved files?

17. Are you able to operate more than one software application at a time and move between applications?

18. Can you download files to your computer from a website?

19. Do you know how to edit web browser preferences (e.g., cache setting, fonts, default homepage, enable/disable JavaScript)?

20. Are you able to send, receive, forward, and print email with or without attachments?

21. Can you successfully save and retrieve email attachments sent to you?

22. Do you know how to forward your ISU email to another address?

23. Are you able to keep current and utilize virus-scanning software?

24. Do you know how to determine the size of a file (e.g., 1012 kb, 30 mb, etc.)?

25. Can you recognize a file type based on its extension (e.g. .doc, .htm, .pdf)?

26. Are you able to find and utilize an Internet search engine and limit search results?

Please Choose the Answers that Best Describe You

27. I usually complete homework and other assignments:

28. I am considering taking an online class:

29. When I have to work individually:

30. If I am having difficulty with an assignment:

31. Written instructions are:

32. I consider myself to be:

33. When I turn in work:

34. Face-to-face meetings with my instructor and my classmates:

35. When asked to utilize new skills and technologies as a learner:

36. As a learner, I would classify myself as being:

Note: when you are done viewing your results read the rest of this page.

Tips for Being a Successful Online Student:

Taking an online course is very different than taking a traditional face-to-face course and not all students are prepared to be successful in the online environment. Review the following tips to be successful in an online course at Idaho State University (ISU):

  1. Recognize that online courses are NOT any easier than face-to-face classes, and in fact may be harder for some students.
  2. Read over all of the introductory materials and contact the instructor immediately if you have any questions.
  3. Assume an active role in the learning process; whether you are working alone, or in a group. Be open to contributing your ideas and perspective and be willing to comment on the subject you are studying. Also take an interest in what your classmates are saying and be willing to provide feedback to them and share ideas.
  4. Log on to your course every single day, or a minimum of 5-6 days a week. It is very easy to get behind quickly, so stay active in the course.
  5. Manage your time carefully. Schedule at least 2-3 hours per credit each week to work on your course and stick to your schedule. Certain courses may require more time!
  6. Do not procrastinate; follow the course schedule assigned by your instructor. If you need an external source to motivate you to do class work, then consider taking face-to-face classes instead.
  7. Locate resources to assist you in being successful in an online course, such as the Online Writing Lab, the Library article databases, or the Content Area Tutoring Center. Check out ISU's Student Success Center for these and other resources.
  8. Set aside a private space where you can study where you can work without interruptions.
  9. Make sure that you have the appropriate software and plug-ins necessary for the course. You will, for example, need the Firefox web browser to effectively utilize ISU Moodle-based courses. Moodle is the learning management system used by ISU.
  10. If you are unsure of your computer skills, develop them! See the additional skills resources below to improve your basic computer skills, learn the Firefox web browser, discover Moodle, and learn other useful tools used at ISU (including Google Apps).

Additional Skills Resources:

  1. Basic Computer Skills Tutorial, University of Maryland University College
  2. Firefox for Beginners
  3. Introduction to Moodle for Students
  4. Student Moodle Lessons
  5. Video Tutorials for Students (on Moodle and other tools including Google Apps)

Additional Tools for Evaluating your Readiness for Online Learning:

  1. Is Distance Learning Right for You?
  2. Is Online Learning Right for You?
  3. What I Wish I'd Known about Distance Learning
  4. How to take Online Distance Education Classes
  5. Online Readiness Quiz
  6. What Kind of Computer/Software Will I Need to Take Online Classes?

Additional Help:

ISU Helpdesk

Register for Classes:

Now that you have considered the above questions and feel confident that you are ready to take an online course, go to the ISU Class Schedule page to register.