Starting my college degree in 2020 meant most of my classes shifted from a traditional classroom setting to online. 😫 I had virtually no experience with remote learning and struggled to stay focused and organized. I constantly battled procrastination and distractions at home. The first semester came to an end – my grades and motivation took a nosedive.
After that rocky start, I realized I needed to totally reinvent how I approached online learning to be successful. Through trial and error, I developed online learning tips and strategies that worked for me (and earned me that distinction 😉). Now I can effectively manage my time, create an optimal study environment, and stay engaged with coursework – all from the comfort of home!
In this blog post, I want to shortcut your online learning curve. You don’t need to struggle like I did! I’ll share actionable techniques to help you stay disciplined, accountable, and successful in your online classes from day one.
Let me show you how to master remote learning so you can earn your degree program – even from the comfort of your couch! With the right approach, online classes can be engaging and effective.
1. Setting the Stage for Online Learning Success
Whether you’re diving into a full-fledged online course or just a segment of your learning journey in the virtual realm, one rule reigns supreme: approach online classes with the same diligence as you would an in-person class.
The Power of Mindset: 💡
Establishing the correct mindset from the outset is crucial; it can make or break your online learning success.
Determine Your Intentions:
Start by firmly setting the right intentions. Commit to doing everything necessary for success, not just attempting it. This includes crafting a realistic study schedule, diligently adhering to it, and completing assignments promptly. Remember, using submission postponement should be the last resort, reserved for genuine emergencies.
Your success in the online world begins with your mindset and intentions. Stay disciplined, stay determined, and your journey will be a rewarding one!
2. Mastering Assignment Management
I completely understand the overwhelming feeling that can accompany online classes, especially when it comes to juggling numerous course materials and assignments. I’ve been there too, feeling stressed as I tried to manage and complete assignments on time. So, let me share with you how I dealt with these “unique” challenges.
To combat stress and streamline your mental workload, invest time upfront to clearly understand assignments and create your own schedule filled with minuscule tasks. This way, you’ll avoid that paralyzing anxiety and procrastination. Instead of staring at a mountain of work, you’ll see a series of manageable tasks, allowing you to focus on execution. Compare the overwhelming “OMG, there is SO MUCH to do” with “Read that HBR article on Tuesday.”
Identify Major Assignments: Take a deep dive to understand the key assignments required for your online course success.
Document Assignment Details: Write down the specifics, including requirements and deadlines.
Aim to excel: Note down the success factors that would make your work outstanding. You want to be among the best online students, not the average ones, right?
Now, this one is really important! Break It Down: Divide each assignment into minuscule, actionable tasks. Remember, every task can be broken down further into manageable pieces.
Create Task Lists: Compile these tasks into lists, starting each item with a verb, such as “read,” “review,” “write 100 words a day,” and so on.
Time and Deadline: Estimate the time needed for each task and set a deadline.
Weekly Schedule Integration: Finally, add these tasks to your weekly schedule.
This strategy will help you navigate the online course landscape or any degree program with confidence, turning overwhelming assignments into manageable steps.
3. Track Your Progress: The Key to Accountability
Congratulations! Now that you’ve set all your actionable goals, it’s time to embrace the power of tracking and measuring your progress. Trust me, it’s not only satisfying but also incredibly motivating to witness yourself steadily advancing toward your final goal.
But how do you ensure you stay on track and avoid missing deadlines, especially in the midst of online classes with their unique challenges? Here’s a simple yet effective solution – Create a Reminder System.
Establish a system of reminders to keep you organized and accountable. Whether they’re verbal or visual reminders, having them in place ensures you’ll monitor your progress and spot potential issues well in advance.
With solid time management skills and a reminder system in place, you’ll be well-equipped to conquer your online learning journey!
4. Tech Prep: The Online Learning Lifeline
To ace your online courses, technical readiness is paramount. Allow me to share some wisdom from personal experience.
High-Speed Internet Connection:
First and foremost, a high-speed internet connection is non-negotiable for most online courses. Trust me; you don’t want the stress of sudden disconnections during group presentations, live lectures, webinars, or workshops. 😱
Check Technical Requirements:
Before embarking on your online learning journey, take time to review the technical prerequisites. Ensure your computer meets these requirements, and be aware of any necessary hardware and software. The last thing you want is to discover you’re short on hard disk space while attempting to install that vital program for quantitative analysis. Deal with these details in advance; once your studies commence, you’ll have your hands full!
Auto-Save 💾 and Backups ☁️:
Here’s a pro tip: Make use of auto-save features in software like Microsoft Office. Additionally, consider investing in a cloud-based or physical backup system. Regular backups not only shield you from mishaps but also grant offline access when needed.
Remember, online learning can be seamless with the right preparations. So, gear up and conquer your digital classroom! 🎓🚀
5. Time management
One of the cornerstones of successful online learning is honing solid time management skills. Let’s explore how to make it work.
Effective Study Strategies: Experiment with and employ relevant study strategies that work for your learning style. For instance, block your days into focused work sessions for specific tasks like reading or researching.
Prioritize tasks by tackling the most important assignments first to avoid last-minute panic. Employ the 80/20 rule – 80% of results come from 20% of efforts – on high-impact tasks.
Take advantage of productivity apps like Pomodoro timers and task managers to help you practice time management and boost your efficiency. There are fantastic AI schedule assistants available, both free and paid. Leverage these tools to streamline your work, help you plan, and release your mental load so you can fully focus on learning your online program.
Set a Schedule: Engage in a little self-reflection. Are you a morning person, or do the evening hours work best for you? Create a daily or weekly study schedule tailored to your personal rhythms. Reserve your most productive hours for tasks demanding your full attention while leaving less productive times for minor or less mentally taxing activities.
Think about your ideal learning environment — I once found that some tasks, like watching lectures or attending an online class in a local coffee shop rather than at home, actually helped me maintain focus on these tasks.
Establish a daily or weekly study schedule to stay organized. At the beginning of each week, set clear, measurable goals for what you need to get done each day.
Use a Planner or Calendar: Keep track of assignments, deadlines, and live sessions with a physical or digital planner or calendar. Personally, I use both to keep track of different tasks. I like to have a visual representation of all the online and face-to-face meetings on a table calendar, which helps me grasp my schedule at a glance, but when it comes to assignment’s upcoming due dates, I opt for a digital planner to receive timely notifications, ensuring I never miss a deadline.
Additionally, I suggest keeping several working plans dividing it by what you must do, should do, and could do each day.
6. Design a productive learning environment
One of the critical aspects of successful online learning is creating a dedicated learning environment that fosters concentration, productivity, and motivation. Let me share my insights on this vital topic.
Experiment with your setup to find what works best for you. Dedicate a specific area for learning, whether it’s a corner of your room or a cozy home office. Make it comfortable, but not too cozy, and keep it clutter-free.
Create a study space that is comfortable, well-lit, and free of distractions. Ensure you have all the supplies you need within reach, and keep your study area clean and organized. You can also add some personal touches, such as plants or artwork, to make your study space more inviting.
Don’t limit your study space to the same four walls at home, does the nearby library or a local coffee shop work better? It certainly did for me to perform specific tasks such as watching lectures or writing.
When it comes to taking online classes, I’ve learned the hard way that staring at a screen for hours while watching video lectures or participating in a virtual study group and online discussion board can be tough on your eyes and posture. After one too many headaches and sore backs, I realized I needed to invest in some additional equipment to make my home office more ergonomic. For me, an additional large monitor, monitor riser, standing desk, and supportive chair have been game-changers. Not only do they help me practice time management and employ relevant study strategies more comfortably, but they also diminish eye strain so I can stay focused and productive.
If you’re new to remote learning, I’d suggest looking into ways you can optimize your space. Taking care of your body will make it easier to take in all that course content on the screen!
7. Eliminate distractions
I get it – taking online classes from home makes it way too easy to procrastinate. Between errands, endless social media scrolling, and binge-watching the latest show, it’s tough to stay focused on your online classes. Research shows that organizing academic activities is a common struggle among students, with as many as 90% of students being at least part-time procrastinators!
Personally, I’ve found a few tricks that help me avoid losing focus and eliminate distractions while learning remotely:
Keep your desk pristine. A clutter-free desk equals a clutter-free mind. I remove ANYTHING unrelated to my studies from my desk; it’s like a visual reset button. And don’t forget your laptop desktop – clear out those unnecessary icons and apps. A tidy space = a tidy mind.
Another trick that I do is to have different browser windows. Online classes often mean juggling multiple tabs for research, video lectures, and more. It’s easy to wander off into the internet wilderness. My solution? Different browser windows for different tasks. I’ve got tab groups for studying, managing finances, and entertainment. It allows me to stay organized and out of ‘unauthorized’ browsing territory.
Okay, let’s talk about what’s arguably the most time-draining piece of technology – your phone. The whole armies of software engineers powered by million budgets work to make you stick to this little screen. To battle this, I use ‘Focus’ modes to silence all but essential notifications. But here’s the kicker: I put my phone out of sight, usually in a drawer. Out of sight, out of mind. If you need more firepower, stash it in another room. If all else fails, try app blockers like AppBlock or Freedom. It might feel odd at first, but hey, change isn’t always comfortable.
These little adjustments helped me avoid losing focus, so try implementing these, stick to it, and you’ll reap the benefits too!
8. Team up
When it comes to mastering online courses, here’s a savvy tip: consider enrolling and tackling your virtual studies with a friend. Research shows that having a study buddy, especially in the world of online education that can feel lonely and isolating, can be a game-changer.
Studies reveal a 23% increase in pass rates for university students who study with a buddy compared to those who study alone. Moreover, this collaborative approach offers benefits such as higher motivation, improved learning retention, and increased engagement with assignments. Another study found that adolescents working together took part in more exploratory behavior, learned faster, and completed tasks more effectively than those working alone.
But it’s not just about academic benefits; there are practical advantages too. Friends often share valuable resources such as class notes, time management strategies, and helpful study tools, making the learning journey more efficient and enjoyable.
Taking online classes together lets you complete assignments more effectively, discuss lessons in-depth, and enjoy the camaraderie of a learning companion. It’s a win-win strategy for success in online education. 💡📚👫
9. Peer Connections
If you find yourself embarking on your online learning journey without a study buddy, fear not! There are still numerous avenues to tap into the benefits of connecting with your fellow classmates.
In the digital realm, forming a virtual study group is akin to sitting together in a traditional classroom setting. This connection isn’t just about camaraderie; it’s a valuable resource for academic growth.
Online Discussion Boards: Your course’s online forums and discussion boards are goldmines for interaction. Here, you can actively participate in class discussion threads, share insights, and ask questions to both teachers and other students. Additionally, the foundation of most online courses centers on collaboration with instructors actively encouraging students to work together to complete group assignments and discuss lessons. A 2019 study in Educational Psychologist highlighted that students without friends tend to receive lower grades and are less academically engaged compared to those with even just one friend.
Connecting with others will keep you engaged in the course. So, don’t hesitate to reach out to other students and actively participate in online discussions and your course’s online forum and foster these connections, you might learn a few helpful tips that will make you one of the best online students or lay the ground for a lifelong friendship. It’s a win-win, either way! 🚀
10. Take notes 📝
Whether you’re in a traditional classroom or taking online classes, the golden rule of learning endures – take notes. 📝 It’s your compass to staying focused and retaining crucial information.
Choose Your Tools Wisely: 🛠️
Studies emphasize that handwriting notes enhance memorization and word recognition, while digital notes save time. Personally, I strike a balance by using both. Digital note-takers help you to stay organized by storing everything from audio to handouts in one place. Plus, carrying a single device beats lugging around notebooks and pens.
Tailor Your Approach: 🤔
Start with a little self-reflection. Assess your course materials, study style, your own schedule, and your goals. Then experiment with different tools and adopt what suits you best. 🧭
Remember, note-taking isn’t just a mundane task; it’s definitely one of the most effective tips for online learning. 🚀
11. Put Online Resources to Use
Colleges provide a treasure trove of resources for online students. Your key to success? Knowing how to access and use them effectively. 🗝️
Library & Databases: Explore online libraries and academic databases for research and knowledge.
Open Educational Resources (OERs): Access free, quality course materials to aid you with completing assignments.
Your fellow classmates are a valuable resource on your online learning journey. Don’t hesitate to use virtual study groups, class discussion threads, and your course’s online forum to connect with other students.
If you’re facing difficulties, chances are, these challenges aren’t unique to you. Ask your peers for advice on completing major assignments or for a relevant study strategy. Engaging with others fosters a sense of connection, making you feel more engaged, and you may learn a few universally valuable tips for online learning success.
12. The Power of Breaks ⚡
When you’re taking online classes, it’s easy to get sucked into an endless study session without coming up for air. However, taking regular short breaks is crucial for retaining information and staying sharp.
Set a timer or use visual reminders to remind yourself to take a 5-10 minute break every 45-60 minutes. Breaks help recharge your mental energy.
Get up and move during breaks! Do some stretching or take a quick walk around the house. Light exercise helps reset both your mind and body. Apps like FitOn offer quick (and FREE) “At Work” workouts.
Step away from your dedicated learning environment to fully detach. Grab a healthy snack, hydrate, chat with someone else in your home, or get some fresh air.
Don’t check social media or anything distracting during breaks. The goal is to give your mind an intermission, not lose focus.
Return from breaks feeling refreshed and ready to refocus. You’ll retain so much more and avoid burnout. Short strategic breaks make you far more productive over the long haul.
You’ve got this!
13. Celebrate Progress Along the Way
Pushing through your daily grind of the online course and aiming to get to the finish line can seem like a marathon. But remember, every marathon is made up of individual steps, and each step deserves recognition. 🏆 Celebrating achievements and milestones along the way is key to staying motivated!
After finishing a challenging module or assignment, treat yourself to something special, like your favorite snack or an hour of leisure reading. You’ve earned it!
The next one is my favorite – Share your latest victory with a friend or family member so they can celebrate with you! Social support helps you feel proud.
On Friday afternoons, review your accomplishments from the week, no matter how small. Recognize your effort. 👏
When you’ve completed a major milestone, do something bigger to celebrate – get a massage, have a nice dinner, or buy yourself something fun.
Keep a visible tally or bullet journal tracking key successes. Seeing your progress accumulate boosts morale.
Rewarding yourself makes you feel accomplished, re-energizes you, and gives you an incentive to keep learning. Be your own biggest cheerleader while earning your “online” college degree – you totally deserve it!
Earning your degree online can be an incredibly rewarding experience. But it does present unique challenges compared to traditional classrooms.
By following the tips shared throughout this post, you can set yourself up for remote learning success. Start by cultivating the right mindset and intentions. Then, tackle assignments through careful planning and scheduling. Adopt strategies to stay focused in your dedicated learning space. And don’t forget to celebrate progress and connect with classmates along the way.
Remember, you don’t have to figure everything out alone. This post contains universally valuable online learning tips to help you excel in online courses based on my experience. Put them into practice, stay determined and proactive, and your virtual education journey will be both engaging and effective.
If you take away just one thing, let it be this: you absolutely have what it takes to conquer the online classroom. Now get out there, be your best self, and start learning!