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Keys to Success

Distance learning is a rewarding and sometimes challenging experience that requires a different level of commitment and perhaps some new types of skills than you might use in a face-to-face course. To meet your educational goals, you need to be organized and motivated.


  • Understand and meet the course and English language requirements.
  • Use a schedule to manage your time effectively.
  • Check the final exam deadline and apply well in advance.
  • Activate your TRU Library account to use the library’s resources.
  • Communicate with your Open Learning Faculty Member.
  • Find out about Educational Advising.

Eight steps to success


Meet the expected time commitment per course

Commit about 10 to 15 hours per week for study and online work per course. Don't overextend yourself by enrolling in too many courses at once. Full-time students might take up to three full-time courses; if you are working or have family commitments, one or two courses might be enough.

Learn more about Time Management.


Use a problem-solving approach when encountering technical or other difficulties

Use your resources effectively when you first encounter a problem. Let your Open Learning Faculty Member know if you can't solve it right away.

Read through Technical Basics to make sure you have the basics covered before you start. Tech support can assist you if you have error messages, file format problems and more. Contact the IT Service Desk by email or by phone. Have your student ID number ready and give a detailed description of the problem.


Demonstrate a basic level of technical proficiency

Upload file attachments, using the learning management system. Post a message to a discussion. Understand what a threaded discussion is and post correctly to a thread (topic). Know how to work with documents in various formats.

Your course site gives you all the details you need on using specific tools within the learning management system, including discussions and messages.


Demonstrate effective time management strategies

Participate in discussions according to the course schedule. Complete assignments in a timely fashion. Contact your Open Learning Faculty Member immediately in the event of unexpected problems. Make use of university resources to help you overcome challenges.

The Online Discussions section will provide you with some thoughtful ideas about participating online. Check out the section on Time Management.


Use effective research skills for online and library database searches

Make use of the library services to learn research skills and locate full-text journal articles online, as well as learn to cite your sources appropriately. Include your research in discussion postings as appropriate, acknowledging your sources with citations.

Refer to the TRU Library website. There are a number of links on learning how to research effectively, as well as a quick guide to evaluating websites. Also see the section on Reading and Researching Online.


Communicate effectively online

Respect and encourage the sharing of ideas that may be different from your own. Follow the guidelines for discussions outlined by your course Open Learning Faculty Member.

Learn more in Online Discussions.


Collaborate effectively with a group online

Familiarize yourself with the components of effective group work: group process, establishing trust, communicating effectively and managing conflict.

Working in groups online is discussed in the orientation section Group Work. An introduction to communication tools is included in the Online Tools section.


Demonstrate how to write an effective reflection on an activity or event

Be familiar with different types of written reflections.

Review the online communications and discussions sections of the tutorial. Read the document Becoming a Reflective Learner.

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