Tips to succeed for online learning courses

December 15, 2020

John O'Keefe

Tips for taking online classes

More students than ever before are furthering their education via online learning. Studies show that approximately one-third of all students are now taking at least one online course. This is not really so surprising when you consider the many advantages. Online course give you the flexibility to learn at your own pace and balance your work and family commitments while giving you access to top degree programs.


While it’s easy to see why so many students are attracted to virtual classes, online lessons can take some getting used to. Here are some tips for online learning success to make sure you get the most out of your online education.

1. Create a regular study space and stay organized

Set up a dedicated workspace for studying free from distractions. Working regularly from this space on your coursework will help you to create a routine which is key to good study habits. Establish a defined study space that is comfortable and with good lighting. Knowing where all your books, files, syllabi, and assignments are will help you to stay on top of things and on target toward hitting your study goals.

When setting up your study space, make sure you:

Have a high-speed internet connection

Have headphones for listening to lectures or discussions

Have the required books, materials, and software for the course easily at hand

2. Eliminate distractions

So, you have set up a workspace and you’re finally ready to work on that essay, but you cannot start just yet as there are messages and notifications coming in that need to be read, shared and replied to.

Being an online student means you’ll be faced with many interruptions that can easily distract you from your studies. You should consider turning off your cell phone whenever you get down to coursework to avoid losing focus every time a notification or text message pops up.

If you need a little help withstanding the temptation to check your emails or browse the web every 5 minutes, try downloading a website blocker like Freedom or KeepMeOut These help to minimize distractions by blocking the apps or websites that tend to compete for your attention.

3. Optimize your internet and don’t panic when things go wrong

Your internet speed will determine the quality of the video and audio you receive. If you can connect by cable to your router, that will give you the best internet connection.

If you’re using wi-fi, try to get as near to the router as possible. Don’t panic when something goes wrong – and rest assured it will – just know what to do. If you are disconnected from the internet during an online lesson, just log back in and add a note in the forum apologizing and get back on with the lesson.

As a backup, you could use your smartphone, make sure you have downloaded the virtual classroom software vendor’s app. Try and use it with wi-fi because if you use your phone for the data connection you may run up expensive data usage charges. 

4. Plan ahead

Assume that what can go wrong, will go wrong! It is best to familiarize yourself with the virtual classroom software that your school uses. Check out the software company’s website for user guides, videos and tips. Log into your school’s virtual classroom and become acquainted with how the instructional space looks before class begins.

5. Manage your time

One of the great things about taking online classes is the freedom it gives you to create your own schedule. If you don’t have good time management skills, that flexibility can become a liability and you might easily find yourself burning the midnight oil before classes or handing in substandard assignments.

Ultimately, how you manage your time will depend on your school and personal schedules, your personality and your learning style but there are some valuable tips to help you work on and improve your time management skills:

Create a long-term plan

Look at the course program at the start of the semester and make note of when assignments including drafts are due. Mark them on a calendar along with lesson and other activities related to your program. You might want to factor in personal obligations that may interfere with your regular study agenda. Check this calendar regularly so you know what commitments are coming in the weeks ahead and adjust in plenty of time if you see potential scheduling problems.

Create a weekly schedule

A calendar will give you a long view of your commitments, but you also have to designate enough hours each week to reading, watching lectures, completing assignments, studying, and participating in forums to achieve them. Once you have created your weekly routine and things are underway, review it to see if you are on track for your scheduled delivery dates and adjust if necessary.

6. Be aware of what others can see and hear

Every other day it seems a clip from an online meeting goes viral and we can see the unfortunate participant inappropriately dressed or saying something that they instantly regret. If you’re using the camera or audio on your computer, check over your shoulder. Don’t have unsuitable posters or an unmade bed filling the background. Put a sign on the door telling family members, roommates etc., that you are in a live video class and they should stay out.

7. Actively participate

Ask lots of questions. Learning generally is a two-way process, but with online lessons you are more responsible for your own learning and the emphasis is on you to make sure you understand the coursework. If you do feel that you are falling behind, be proactive and speak up. Don’t wait until a deadline is almost upon you to ask your professor for help or to report issues.

Join in your course’s online forum to help you connect with your classmates. You will be able to discuss materials and exchange ideas about coursework and projects. Read what your fellow students and your professor are posting and if something is not clear, ask a question or for clarification. Check in to the forum as often as you can but set a target to check the class discussion board at least once a day.

Online classes can present unique challenges. However, if you develop skills for effective online learning, you’ll find the courses can be an excellent alternative to a traditional classroom setting and help you achieve your study and career goals.

Network

Most online courses are built around the idea of cooperation, with professors actively encouraging students to collaborate to complete assignments and discuss lessons.
Introduce yourself to other students and build relationships by taking part in online discussion boards. Your fellow students can be a valuable asset when preparing for exams or asking for comments on assignments. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them to create a virtual study group.

Reward yourself

You should remember to take some time out and treat yourself when you hit targets during your studies. It’s important to reward yourself to avoid burnout.
So, handed in that assignment you have been working on for months. Great! Celebrate by going out for a meal and a movie. Hit an important milestone in the program. Fantastic! why not go away for the weekend?
Online classes can present unique challenges. However, if you develop skills for effective online learning, you’ll find the courses can be an excellent alternative to a traditional classroom setting and help you achieve your study and career goals.

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