Good advice is where you find it! This short checklist article, written by Brian C. Steinberg has good advice. I had to add my own take to his solid list of ideas!
1. Introduce yourself (My advice: if you start a class that doesn't provide a social icebreaker, drop it. You need to know the people you're learning with. Community is key online.)
2. Read Read and Read Everything! (My advice: Reading everything at the start of a course makes sense. You need to get oriented. After that, don't treat hypertext reading like textbook reading. Learn to skim and strategically bookmark and annotate important reading. If you try to read it all, you'll go down the rabbit hole and never come out.)
3. Downloading and Printing Course Materials. (My advice: I love a paperless work flow. However new online students can gain a true sense of order from printing and arranging course materials. I did this for most of my first online learning experiences and recommend that my novice online students create a notebook.)
4. Online Study Buddies. (My Advice: Kudos to the author of this article. I've never thought of this as an explicit tip for online learners, even though I know it helps to have a friend taking the class. Consciously building network relationships in an online class is a natural outgrowth of community centered online learning. )
5. Start your work ASAP! (My advice: I open my classes a week early for a non-academic preview. This helps folks hit the ground running. It's deadly to fall behind in an online class.)
These five tips will help any online student have a better learning experience. It's also a good reminder for online instructors to put in the extra time needed to plan a great start up week for their students. ~ Dennis