Keys to Success


Online courses have been developed by Mt. San Jacinto College (MSJC) instructors to accommodate anyone who may live long distances from any one of the college campuses (San Jacinto, Menifee, Temecula, Beaumont, Lake Elsinore) and/or who may have schedules that preclude attending traditional face-to-face classes during their scheduled meeting times.

If you have not taken an online course before you should enroll in and complete the Online Learner's Orientation, a short tutorial about how online learning works. It is expected that anyone who undertakes an online course will have consistent access to a reliable computer with reliable Internet access and will already have developed at least basic reading, word processing, web browsing and e-mail skills. View this link to learn more about the minimum computer skills requirement for students in online courses.

Students who do not have their own computers can have free access to computers and the Internet at MSJC's Learning Resource Centers (LRC), located on the Menifee, San Jacinto and Temecula campuses. As its name suggests, our Learning Resource Centers have lots of learning resources to offer MSJC students. Go to the LRC's Web site for more information about how to gain access to various learning resources and the LRC's hours of operation.

MSJC also offers two finely equipped and staffed computer labs, designed for student use. Plus, several new CIS tutors have recently been hired by the CIS department. You can inquire about Computer Lab hours of operation and CIS tutors by viewing the Career Education Tutoring page.

All of the courses you take online are offered through Canvas which is a learning management system (LMS). To access any of the content for any of your course that are online, just open a Web browser and type If you run into problems using the Canvas LMS you should submit a help request at

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What are the Basic Skills Students Need to be Successful in an Online Course?

In order to succeed in any online course, a person must be able do all of the following things:

  • Work independently and NOT PROCRASTINATE.
  • Follow written directions EXACTLY as they are written.
  • Emulate the format of examples EXACTLY as illustrated.
  • Demonstrate good clear and concise Writing Ability.
  • Comply with CIS Required E-Mail Standards.

By the time the course is completed all students will have demonstrated proficiency in all of the course related basic skills as stated in the syllabus for each online course.

After reviewing all of the information referenced above, anyone able to meet the criteria indicated, who wants to complete an online course, should begin by starting on your first assignments now. Set aside a day and time for yourself when you will be able to work on your assignments on a regular basis. Working at a consistent and steady pace will afford you the best learning opportunities and your best chance of achieving success in your online course.

While all students are expected to be able to read with comprehension and write with clarity, these skills are critical for anyone who hopes to successfully complete an online course.

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Writing Ability

Online students must:

  • Read all of the directions and background material for each/every assignment.
  • Study and emulate the format of any examples provided for each/every assignment.
  • Comply with all of the specified criteria indicated for each/every assignment.

It is expected that students will use a word processing program to prepare all written work, will read through everything they have written before e-mailing it or posting it and will complete all assignments well before due dates so that the stress of "last minute rush" does not diminish the quality of their work.

MSJC has two outstanding Writing Centers designed to assist students with all types of writing projects. There is a Writing Center located on both the San Jacinto and Menifee campuses of MSJC. Go to the Writing Center Web site to find out more information about the services they offer and their hours of operation.

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Minimum Basic Computer Skills

In order to be successful in most of MSJC's computer programming, Internet Authoring, Networking, or computer application classes students are advised that they must already possess certain basic computer skills before enrolling in these classes. Otherwise, students should first enroll in and complete the CSIS 101 Introduction to Computers course before enrolling in any of the MSJC computer courses. In order to be prepared for success when taking CIS or CAPP courses be sure you already posses these Minimum Basic Computer Skills.

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General Tips for Being Successful in an Online Course

It only takes a second to log on to and just a couple of minutes to check for any announcements or e-mails that you may have been sent from one of your online instructors. You should make it a habit of checking both your MSJC email and online announcements at least once per day, Monday through Thursday, and at least once again over the weekend. That way you are always informed of the most recent updates sent to you from your MSJC online instructors. Being an informed student increases your ability to be a successful Online Student.

Don't procrastinate, always work ahead on assignments. You may run into a problem or need to ask a question of your instructor in order to complete an assignment. Most online instructors don't respond until Monday to emails received on the weekend, and by then it may be too late for you to meet your assignment deadline. If you begin assignments early in the week and ask your questions early, then, you should receive a timely response, making it easier for you to complete your assignment on time.

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Instructor Announcements for Students

One of the most common ways for an instructor to communicate with the entire class at once is by posting an announcement. Once you log on to Canvas and open the course shell for the class, click on the Announcements link in the main menu on the left of the screen.

Once you are viewing the Announcements page you will see all the announcments posted by your instrcutor in the order they were posted.

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E-Mail Tips for Being Successful in an Online Course

Email communication between student and instructor is the primary method for asking questions and resolving problems in this online course. With that in mind here are some key things to consider regarding use of email by online students.

  1. Checking for Emails. Always check your email at least once per day, Monday - Thursday, and at least once during the weekend.
  2. Follow the Email Policy. Adhering to the department Email Policy in ALL email correspondence with your instructor is very important as well. Following the policy will help your instructor respond to you quicker.
  3. Always Include Your Name. Always be sure to include your full name, first name + last name, in all email correspondence with your online instructor. By including your full name in each email, your instructor will be able to address you properly in his/her response to you.
  4. Always Include Your Course Number and section Number. In the subject of your emails always include the course number and section number of the class you are inquiring about. Most MSJC instructors are teaching 5 or more classes per semester and MSJC keeps increasing the student enrollment cap (now at 40 students per class) which makes it difficult for your instructor to know which class you are enrolled in unless you provide that information in the subject of your email.
  5. Responding to Emails. When responding to an email you received from your instructor, just click "reply" and start typing. Don't delete the text at the bottom of your response as that is the "thread" or "record" of the previous information exchange between you and your teacher about a particular question or problem. Leaving this "thread" of information helps your instructor to give you a more complete response to your follow-up question or issue with a particular problem.
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