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Online Reading Strategies

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How to Approach Online Reading


Succeeding in an online class will become easier if you follow these suggestions:

  • Print the syllabus, the course introduction, and each unit with its respective assignments and file this information in a 3-ring notebook just as you would for a traditional course. This will save time because the materials are available for easy reference.
  • In addition to your time in class, plan on spending a minimum of 5-8 hours per week on your assigned online reading, thinking, and responding activities.
  • Interact with your classmates as much as possible to form social connections and to serve as a major source of your learning.
  • When you spend a lot of time at the computer, be sure to take frequent short breaks. The material is highly vision intensive. To relieve eyestrain, look away from the screen, close your eyes, or focus on something else across the room.
  • Expand or maximize the window so it fills the entire screen. This will make reading easier. Also, make the print larger so you are not hunched over the computer or straining to see what’s on the screen.


How to Read Online Assignments and Web-linked Materials

Before you read...

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  • Begin with a positive attitude and plan to be successful.
  • Read through the syllabus, the course introduction, and the assignment directions several times. If you have questions, e-mail your instructor immediately.
  • Check any guidelines you have been given, such as “Read this in preparation for this week’s posts” or “Read to see how this compares with how you handle this situation."
  • Read the discussion board topics before you read the assigned material. What are you supposed to answer? How are you to write your response? What should you look for as you read?
  • Look over the organization of the assigned material. Read the headings, subheadings, bold print, and the introductory and concluding paragraphs. How will the organization help you find the information you need? Can you identify the major focus of the reading?
While you read...
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  • Keep the assignment questions and tasks in mind.
  • Read from heading to heading. When you finish a section, stop and summarize what you know. If you can’t say it or write it then the information may not be understood or it has not been stored in memory. Go back and reread the section and try this again.
  • Some Internet materials are extremely long. To take notes, open up a word processing document and cut and paste relevant information into your “Notes” document. Be sure to copy into your notes the web citation information or print the first page of the web material so you have the source to refer to when documentation is needed.
  • Restate ideas in your own words. Think about what the author has said and how it relates to your personal experiences.
  • Ask yourself questions. Do you agree with the author? with what a classmate has stated in a discussion board post? with a comment made by your instructor? Why? What evidence supports your position?
  • Compare what you are reading with what you know. How does new information fit with what you have learned or your past experience?
  • If you don’t understand what you have read, find a way to get back on track.
    -Are unfamiliar words confusing you?
    -Did you read the introduction and conclusion first?
    -Does the next sentence, paragraph, or section help?
    -Did you post a question asking for clarification on the discussion board or ask your e-buddy for input?


After you read...
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  • Respond to the discussion board posts. Read each one carefully and follow directions. Be thoughtful, clear, and complete in your answers.
  • Remember that everyone reads your posts. The image you present through what you say and how you say it is visible to all.
  • To keep a record of your posts, write them first in a word processing program, use the spell check, and proofread. Then copy and paste your responses to the discussion board.
  • Reread thoughts you have organized, questions you have answered, materials you have read, and discussion board posts from your classmates.
  • Select your best learning strategies to store new information in long-term memory. Review until you are comfortable that the essential information is part of your knowledge bank.


Go to Textbook Reading Strategies and Web Sites

Go to Concentrate When Studying and Reading


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This site was created and is maintained by Barbara J. Speidel, SWC Academic Success Center Coordinator. @ Barbara J. Speidel

The ASC logo was created by Andrew C. Rempt. @ Andrew C. Rempt
Southwestern College