Treat an online course like a “real” course.
When it comes to online classes, you need to have the discipline to sit down and say, “I am going to work on this,” as well as the dedication to follow through. Though you can be flexible as to when you choose to complete your work during the week, you can’t put it off indefinitely.
Hold yourself accountable.
Set goals at the beginning of your classes and hold yourself accountable. It is easy in an online class to let due dates slip by or get dangerously close before starting an assignment. Set aside time to check in each day and keep a calendar in plain view to keep due dates fresh in your mind. To help hold yourself accountable reach out to a classmate to be your accountability partner; you can check in with them periodically to stay motivated.
Practice time management.
Mark due dates on a calendar that you place in plain sight. Create a weekly schedule that you stick to, designate certain hours each week to read, watch lectures, complete assignments, study, and participate in discussions. Commit to making your online classwork part of your weekly routine and set reminders for yourself to complete assignments. Check in periodically throughout the term and look at how you’re spending your time.
• How much time am I dedicating to the course reading and assignments?
• Am I regularly underestimating the time it’s taking me to get things done, forcing me to cram the nights before the exams?
A little self-reflection and adjustment can go a long way.
Create a designated study space.
Find a place where you can be comfortable enough to work/study, but not so comfortable that you’re tempted to take a nap. Whether it be a desk/table in your home, a coffee shop, or your kitchen counter, it doesn’t matter as long as it works for you!
When setting up your study space, make sure you:
• Have a high-speed internet connection
• Have the required books, materials, and software for the class
• Have headphones for listening to lectures or discussions (especially important in shared spaces)
Keep your files separated on your computer by class and assignment. That way you won’t have to waste time searching for the right file to work on or turn in. If you have paper notes or files get folders or binders to keep them in. Easy access to all of your study materials will easy frustration and anxiety when it comes to studying or working. Also, if you’re a visual person consider color-coding notes or documents to differentiate them.
Get rid of distractions.
From Netflix to social media, you’ll be faced with many distractions that can easily derail your studies. Some might find that they can tune out a noisy home by listening to music, while others will choose to work in silence with earplugs. Ultimately, you will need to find a strategy that works best for you. Regardless of where you choose to work, consider turning your cell phone on airplane mode to avoid incoming notifications being a distraction.
If you’re still having trouble resisting the temptation to check your email or surf the web, try downloading a website blocker. Using applications like Cold Turkey and Freedom can help eliminate distractions by blocking the apps or websites that tend to compete for your attention, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Check in often to see what’s due!
The flexibility of online learning means that if you have a free moment, you can squeeze in a discussion response around your schedule. Set a goal to check in on that class several times throughout the day to be sure you don’t miss anything. If you do feel yourself falling behind, speak up. Don’t wait until an assignment is almost due to ask questions or report difficulties. Email your professor and be proactive in asking for help. They are here to support you and help you through this time of transition.
We’re all in this together!
You are not alone! Online classes may make you feel like you are learning on your own, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Your professors and peers are in this with you and we will all figure out this transition together. Your peers can be a valuable resource when preparing for exams or asking for feedback on assignments. Don’t be afraid to turn to them to create a virtual study group. Chances are good that they will appreciate it just as much as you will.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your professors any time you find yourself getting stuck, confused, or overwhelmed during this process. Even though classes are no longer face to face they are still here to help you.