Welcome to OLOT - the Online Learning Orientation Tool

OLOT is a freely available self-paced learning tool designed to help students understand what online learning entails and introduce the skills and knowledge that are key to success. Used in conjunction with the Online Learner Readiness Rubric, OLOT can help students better understand what to expect when participating in an online course and their level of preparedness. Content is divided into four modules and covers a broad array of topics, including the nature of online coursework, the technical skills needed for online course participation, the influence of learning skills, interest, and motivation on online course performance, and basic organization and workflow tips for students.

While students, parents, mentors, and others are able to use OLOT however they see fit, OLOT will be more effective if students have someone they are accountable to for the results and someone – their mentor, parent, or guardian for example – directing and supporting their efforts. Michigan Virtual has created a guide to facilitate use to meet specific user needs.

Students can navigate OLOT freely, picking up where they left off or repeating components as they please. Individual student progress is not saved. Each time a user opens OLOT, a new session is begun.

Click here to view the Getting Started Guide

Each module is comprised of a varying number of individual units. Click the tabs below to see the units within each module and read more about the contents of each one. All units include a short post-quiz and the ability to print a certificate of completion upon passing. Click the "Go To Unit" button to view a specific unit.


For an optimal user experience, we recommend that you:

  • Use a computer rather than a mobile device or Chromebook.
  • Enable Flash in your preferred browser before continuing with the Online Learning Orientation Tool.
  • Print your certificate as soon as you complete the module, as OLOT does not save the completion certificate.

OLOT Modules

Before beginning any new endeavor, students should have some level of basic preparation and idea of what they’ll be encountering. When it comes to online learning, students should have an understanding of how the work differs from a face-to-face course, the different types of online courses and what they entail, and how to approach difficult situations like tests and troubleshooting problems. The five units in this module provide a foundational understanding of the online course experience that all students should have prior to participating in an online course.

Online vs. Traditional

Learn the basic differences between an online course and a traditional face-to-face course, including the kind of work that’s involved, the amount of time and effort required, some of the trade-offs of online learning. This introductory unit will help you decide whether online learning is right for you.

Go To Unit ➨  Mobile Version ➨  

Learning Options

This unit covers the different types of online courses, including stand-alone and facilitated courses, and how the experience will differ based upon the type of course a learner is taking. .

Go To Unit ➨  Mobile Version ➨

Costs and Requirements

Learn about the different costs associated with online courses, including course fees, hardware and software costs, and whether you or your school will be responsible for paying them. .

Go To Unit ➨  Mobile Version ➨

Online Tests

This unit explains what it’s like to take a test online and describes some of the situations you may encounter in taking an online test.

Go To Unit ➨  Mobile Version ➨

Dealing with Frustration

Learning in a new way or in a different setting can be challenging. This unit covers productive ways of channeling your frustration to help you solve the problems you encounter and improve your online learning experience.

Go To Unit ➨  Mobile Version ➨

Learning online requires technical knowledge and a specific set of skills because learning and instruction take place in a different setting using many different technology tools. This module provides students with an understanding of the technology needed for participating in an online course, instruction about using a variety of tools for communicating with peers and instructors, and basic information about how to use the Internet use to enhance the online learning experience.

The Right Hardware and Software

Gain a better understanding of what hardware and software you’ll need to get the fullest and most successful experience in your online course. This unit covers what types of applications and software you’ll need.

Go To Unit ➨  Mobile Version ➨

Using a Browser

The web browser is a key tool for navigating all that’s available on the Internet. This unit covers the basics on how to use a web browser and make its use easy for you in your online course.

Go To Unit ➨  Mobile Version ➨

Using a Search Engine

The ability to search the Internet for information and other resources is a key skill needed in taking an online course. This unit provides some basic instruction on how to search engines and some helpful tips for finding the results you’re looking for.

Go To Unit ➨  Mobile Version ➨

Uploading and Downloading Files

This unit covers the basic function of uploading, or sending files to others, and downloading, retrieving files for your own computer, as these two processes are essential functions when taking an online course.

Go To Unit ➨  Mobile Version ➨

Working with E-mail

This unit covers the basics of using e-mail, including sending and receiving messages, attaching files, and strategies for managing your e-mail use in an online course.

Go To Unit ➨  Mobile Version ➨

Discussion Boards

A discussion board is a very prominent feature of many online courses, and allows students to discuss a variety of topics with fellow students and instructors. This unit describes the difference between threaded and non-threaded discussion boards and basic functions like how to post and reply.

Go To Unit ➨  Mobile Version ➨

Chatting and Instant Messages

Communicating in real-time can be very helpful when taking an online course. Using tools like chat rooms and instant messaging clients can help students communicate instantly with fellow students and instructors, and help them achieve success in their online courses.

Go To Unit ➨  Mobile Version ➨

Research shows that a wide variety of factors influence student success in any educational setting. This module focuses on identifying students’ learning styles, interests, and motivations and understanding the impact they have on the learning process. It also provides techniques for effective time management and organization -- two skills that are vital for online learning success.

Learning Styles

Different learning styles affect how quickly and effectively students learn. This unit helps students identify their own learning styles and discover how they influence their education and careers.

Go To Unit ➨  Mobile Version ➨

Interest and Motivation

Research shows that interest and motivation go a long way in determining success in an educational setting. This unit covers the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and demonstrates how each can influence a learner’s success in an online course.

Go To Unit ➨  Mobile Version ➨

Study Skills

This unit provides helpful time management and organization techniques for students who may not be familiar with the differences in an online course.

Go To Unit ➨  Mobile Version ➨

This module deals with specific elements of an online course that students will encounter on a day-to-day basis, including navigation and assignment completion, communicating with peers and instructors, and resolving problems that may arise in an online course. A good understanding of these concepts is crucial to preparing for the learning in an online course environment.

Basic Course Elements

Online courses typically have common features and elements, including announcements, syllabi, assignments, and navigation and communication tools. This unit covers the appearance, purpose and function of these elements to familiarize students.

Go To Unit ➨  Mobile Version ➨

Etiquette Online

A set of ground rules for online communication, called netiquette, helps keep communication civil and productive. This unit covers some aspects of netiquette and demonstrates how to communicate with others politely online.

Go To Unit ➨  Mobile Version ➨

Managing Communications

This unit shows how to ensure you are making meaningful contributions to discussions in online courses, and provides some techniques on “sorting through the weeds” to find the most helpful information from everything you’ll encounter.

Go To Unit ➨  Mobile Version ➨

Problem Resolution

Students may encounter different types of problems in online courses, and should know how to deal with them effectively to resolve them. This unit covers the types of problems you may encounter, the primary contact for each of those types of problems, and strategies for describing them effectively to get them resolved.

Go To Unit ➨  Mobile Version ➨