Online Learning Student Guide

Online classes typically have an asynchronous, or self-paced, portion. Students will complete coursework on their own time but still need to meet weekly deadlines. Some online courses may also have a synchronous component, where students view live lectures online and sometimes participate in discussions through videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom. Students taking an online course should contact their instructor after registration or prior to the first day of class to get detailed information regarding the class.

person outside on a bench working on a laptop


Laulima is the official University of Hawaiʻi learning management system. Most online and many traditional classroom courses in the UH system use Laulima to make course materials available to students, like the syllabus, schedule, assignments, quizzes, and other course-related content. Since each instructor decides how Laulima might be used in his or her own class, expect your courses on Laulima to look slightly different from each other.

If you are new to Laulima, begin by registering to participate in the free online learning orientation.

Below are other recommended Laulima resources for students:

  • Laulima v19 Upgrade Features - student resource page includes Laulima Student Overview video and tutorials.
  • Student FAQ - Frequently asked questions about Laulima
  • Technical Requirements
  • Assistance with Laulima - If there is a technical issue, please use the link to the Request Assistance form at the bottom of any page in Laulima and provide a detailed description of your question or problem.


Zoom is the official University of Hawaiʻi web conferencing tool used for facilitating lectures online in either synchronous or asynchronous environments. Check with the instructor whether or not this tool will be used for your online class. If the course includes a synchronous component, you will need a computer or mobile device with a camera and microphone capabilities. To join a class session, the instructor will give you a link either through email, a calendar invitation, or post in your Laulima course.

If you are new to Zoom, begin by going to the Tutorial for Students resource page.

Tips for Students Taking an Online Course

Taking a regular face-to-face course can be challenging with attending class and keeping up with readings, assignments, and other activities. However, taking a course entirely online requires even more effort since there is no physical instructor or class to help remind a student of what needs to be done. Although online courses offer more flexibility, with this flexibility comes more responsibility.

Here are some tips that can help make you more successful as an online student:

Develop a time-management plan

Online courses offer more freedom in terms of when class work can be done. This can be beneficial for students but also challenging for those who lack self-discipline. Create a schedule to dedicate specific times to do course work like participating in class activities online, reading, or doing research. Be sure to stick to the schedule.

Create a good study environment

Create or find a quiet place to do work without distractions from things like television, family, games, or other temptations that can divert your attention. Also, turn off cell phones during designated "class time" and avoid surfing the Web while on the computer. Since there is no physical classroom, it's important to have a good study space to do course work.

Check in regularly

Visit your online course area regularly so you don’t forget about online readings, assignments, quizzes, and such. Log in on a regular basis, anywhere from once a week to everyday to make sure that you do not fall too far behind.

Maintain motivation and independence

Meeting in a traditional classroom with an instructor and students for class often serves as a reminder of what needs to be done for a course. In an online environment, the lack of physical contact with a teacher or classmates can cause students to lose interest or motivation. Find something that will help keep you motivated throughout the course or program, like wider or better employment opportunities, a degree, or some other personal reward. Develop a self-motivation plan. Because an online class requires more work to be done independently, an online student will need to develop personal techniques to stay engaged.

Be persistent and stay committed

Don't let technical problems or other issues stop you from participating in the course. Keep trying when you encounter challenges and ask for help when needed. Students are more successful when they log into the course and make progress every day or create a manageable study schedule and stick to it. Develop basic technical skills Basic technical skills are needed to do work in an online class. Students should be minimally able to create new documents, use a word processing program, navigate the Internet, and download software. If needed, tutorials on basic computer skills are available on the Web. Know when and how to ask for help. Don't let technical issues or confusion with coursework become major roadblocks. Because you won't be working with an instructor face-to-face, it's important to build a relationship and ask for assistance when it's needed. Learn how to effectively communicate with instructors (and classmates) to prevent or resolve any misunderstandings that might arise in online discussions.

Make the most of online discussions

You may not likely come into contact with classmates as you would in a face-to-face course, but in an online class, you will likely be interacting with them in an online discussion board. This is typically where most of the interaction between the students, and instructor, occurs and is usually the best way to connect with your classmates. Some students find online discussions to be the fun part of a class. Keep in mind that you'll have a better chance of connecting with fellow students by responding with more meaningful messages than the simple "good post."

Web Conferencing Etiquette Tips

If your online course includes a synchronous component, the following video etiquette tips can help you feel comfortable in front of the camera and establish a sense of community with your classmates and instructor.

  • Remember to mute and unmute your mic as needed throughout the session, and leave your mic muted when not talking to avoid background noise interrupting the class.
  • Modify how your name appears and even upload a static image that appears on the screen when you are not using your camera. While instructors often prefer that students use video, being able to see images instead of just a list of names is helpful.
  • Feel free to turn off your video if you need to leave your computer briefly during a session or eat a quick snack. Otherwise, it's best to keep your video on to help establish a sense of community with your classmates and instructor.
  • Be yourself and respect others. If you wouldn't say something out loud in the physical presence of your professor and classmates, then it's not appropriate to say in a synchronous session or type into a chat window. Courtesy, compassion, and generosity go a long way in group settings. Your peers are part of your professional network, so focus on building positive relationships.
  • Utilize the raise your hand feature if wanting to ask a question live. It's a polite way to ask for an opportunity to speak and helps your professor manage the discussion, especially in a large class.