Student Resources

Participating in Your Online Course

A Guided Learning Experience

Online courses at Penn are not independent self-paced courses. They are facilitated by an instructor with due dates, deadlines, and expectations that class participants will interact with peers and faculty.

Review Orientation Videos

Before your course starts, please see our page about preparing for your online course.

Check out Canvas

Once your course Canvas site is open (first day of classes), get to know your canvas site:

  • Check out the Canvas Student Quick Guide 
  • Carefully review your course syllabus
  • Review course requirements, due dates, and expectations around course participation
  • Check your course site for announcements and messages from your classmates and instructor

Ask Questions

Since your Penn course is a guided learning experience and you will meet faculty and TAs who are there to help and support you, be sure to ask questions when you need help! You can email a professor or TA, you can post a question in your discussion boards in Canvas, and you can even post a question in your Zoom sessions (to the entire class or privately to individuals).

Participate in Your Class

Your faculty member and your syllabus should explain any details that are expected regarding your participation in the course. You may be required to post responses to discussion questions or work on projects in groups. You may also be required to attend synchronous meetings. Be sure you understand what is important so you can achieve a high score in class participation. If this is not clear, be sure to ask about it.

Manage Your Time

Every course is designed to reflect the activities and assignments necessary for the course goals. Instead of meeting in a classroom for 3 hours/week, your time may be spread over an entire week that includes reading, watching videos, participating in discussions in Canvas, and participating in live Zoom meetings. It can be easy to fall behind! It’s important to know that you need to spend time doing each of these things, plus any assignments and projects. So be sure to set time aside to check in with your class site and to work on your course projects and assignments. 

  • Visit the course site frequently to review content and participate
  • Familiarize yourself with the syllabus and all due dates
  • Plan ahead for busy weeks

Read more about how to succeed in an online course, and review a sample schedule at the Penn LPS Online website.