An old-fashioned typewriter sits on a wooden table next to modern laptop.

An old-fashioned typewriter sits on a wooden table next to modern laptop.

In this course, we introduce you to essential ideas and skills for succeeding in college online courses. Each lesson takes around 30 minutes each. All of the lessons add up to two-and-a-half to three hours of homework, and are suitable for a college orientation week before a semester starts, or as supplemental lessons in the first three weeks of an online course.

Each lesson has multiple pages and activities. After clicking through to each lesson, you can use the list of links at the bottom of the first page to navigate, or just click through using the "Next up:" link under the main text.

This course makes several assumptions:

  1. We build from strength. Your current knowledge, skills, and cultural background are important to your education. This course is not bringing you up to speed, it is building on your existing knowledge to help you succeed.
  2. Technology needs to serve people. Several lessons in this course focus on revealing the ways technology hides in plain site. Learning how a technology works lets people use that technology for their purposes.
  3. A self-advocating student is their own best teacher. "Self-advocating" means problem solving and asking questions in your own interest. These lessons are designed to help you ask better questions of yourself, your faculty, and your college.

For the most part, these lessons use plain language with as few technical terms as possible. There are times when the words used are intentional. For example, the title of this course is "Return to Enter: An Introduction to Distance Digital Higher Education." We'll talk more about the "Return" and "Enter" part of the title in Lesson 2. For now, let's look at "Distance Digital Higher Education."

"Digital higher education" just means using computing technologies for college. We often call this online college courses. Yet, most of your courses will use computing technologies. "Online courses" is increasingly an out-of-date term as so much of college uses the web and computers. As well, you may have taken some k-12 courses online, but college has different standards and rules for using digital tools like the internet, which we cover in Lessons 2 and 5.

The "distance" part is key: you are not in a physical space with your instructor, and that offers benefits and challenges. Lessons 2-4 include tips on how to manage the challenges that arise from your physical separation from your instructor and support of you college or university. You have more independence with distance digital higher education, and more responsibility as well.

Next up: Lesson 1

All Lessons

Lesson 1: What is the internet?

Lesson 2: Same but different: how distance learning differs from face-to-face learning.

Lesson 3: How does a Higher Education Content Management System work?

Lesson 4: Know thy technology

Lesson 5: Reading, writing, and mathematics


­čĺíThis course is built so that it can easily copied and modified by teachers wishing to customize it. For more information on creating your own custom version, see the

Teacher's Notes