Woman taking an online course

10 Tips for Taking Online Classes

Whether you’ve chosen to enroll in an online course or required to participate in online schooling or training, you will probably ask yourself at one point if you have what it takes to succeed in this endeavour. You may have wondered if you would be able to develop the right habits that will propel you to success. And if you’ve ever thought of this, you are off to a good start. As Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

So to excel in your online learning, we’ve put together this list of 10 online class tips that you can apply straight away. As you apply these tips for taking online classes, you will be able to form the right habits that will propel you to success.

Let’s get started on how to manage online classes effectively – no matter what level of studies you are in.

1. Set Your Intention (Find Your Why)

The backbone of good habit formation is understanding what motivates you. Therefore, the first and most crucial step to succeeding in your online class is to look within and firmly establish your intentions as to why you are taking this online class or training. This may have been something you already knew at the get-go or it could have started out as a fuzzy vision of what you wanted to achieve. Furthermore, knowing your intention or your WHY will help you to realize what success actually looks like for you.

Here are a few guide questions you can use:

  • How will this online class or training contribute to my personal or professional development?
  • What end results do I want to see? (e.g. earning the certificate/diploma, recommendations from instructors, broadened network, etc.)

Once you have established your intentions and consequently, your idea of success, write it down or pin it to your desktop. You’d want to be able to easily look back at this if the going gets tough.

2. Organize Your Space

Toyota has to be one of the most successful companies in the world. One of the reasons behind their success is their 5S system which stands for Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain.

All of the practices under 5S are geared towards keeping an organized workplace. Why? Because this multi-billion dollar company understood well that there is a strong correlation between a clean, organized workspace and productivity. Applying these same principles, you can achieve more productivity in your online class by making sure that you have a dedicated space to studying that is…

  • Clean and has good lighting
  • Free of unnecessary clutter
  • Has a place for everything you need (where you can easily find them)
  • Maintained consistently to remain organized

Man taking online classes from his laptop

3. Eliminate Distractions

On top of having a clean and organized environment where you can study, you also need to make sure that potential distractions aren’t around. These distractions can take the form of social media notifications, television shows, hobby equipment, and the like. Once you’ve set your study schedule, you could also inform the people in your home when you will be needing time when you shouldn’t be disturbed.

4. Make Sure You Have the Right Equipment

Imagine that you are motivated and ready to take your online class and training. You’ve prepared your space, your schedule, your materials – everything. Then when it’s time to access the resources on the learner’s portal, your device crashes or it hangs. Or maybe your Internet is too slow to load anything. To avoid these frustrating scenarios, here are the minimum requirements to ensure a smoother experience with your online learning:

  • Computer with AT LEAST 100GB hard drive, 3GB RAM, Google Chrome 7.0 or higher, 2.0GHz Intel or AMD processor
  • Wifi connection of at least 5mbps

Here are a few extra devices that can make the learning experience even better:

  • A second monitor in case you’d want a wider screen space
  • Quality headphones that can help minimize background sounds

5. Familiarize Yourself with the Syllabus

If your intentions and vision of success are considered your destination, then you can think of the syllabus as your map to get there. It’s very important to be ahead of what will happen on your online learning journey. The syllabus will not only show you the topics that will be covered but also the activities, quizzes, and/or exams that you need to submit. Knowing what’s expected of you will help you budget your time. This brings us to our next point.

6. Create a Dedicated Calendar

Online classes are often a “go at your own pace” kind of experience. However, the extent of leniency with deadlines varies for each class. Commonly, you can peruse through the learning materials (e.g. videos, eBooks, links) at your own pace, but the outputs will typically have deadlines. Some classes will have only one deadline (i.e. the end of the class term) and some will have separate deadlines for each output. And if the online class is on the stricter side, portals can also be set up to not allow the submission of late outputs.

A dedicated calendar will help you steer clear of missing and late outputs. It will also help you to not cram your work. In an online learning environment where you might not have a professor or teacher to verbally remind you of important deadlines, it’s very important to be able to keep track of these yourself.

7. Schedule Regular Time for Studying

Because online learning materials often have a self-paced aspect, it can be easy to fall into the trap of procrastination. Having a regular schedule will help you get into the habit of studying consistently to beat procrastination. To take it a step further, you can also create a study plan where you will not only set the schedule for studying but also determine the scope of what you need to study each time.

Online learner availing of tutoring services

8. Aim to Submit Outputs Ahead of Time

A great way to reduce the stress of cramming and to add to the sense of accomplishment is to consistently aim to submit outputs way ahead of their deadlines. This also protects you from being in a stressful situation in case of an Internet outage or portal crash. In these aforementioned scenarios, deadlines are typically adjusted but it would still be best to save yourself the trouble and worry.

9. Participate!

Though remote learning may look like a solo, isolated adventure at first glance, this usually isn’t the case. Most online classes will give you the chance to interact with instructors and/or fellow learners. As in a physical classroom setup, this is a great opportunity to start discussions, contribute to each other’s learning experience, and build connections. We recommend a daily check-in for all online learners. This will help you to stay engaged in the learning experience and to also see any changes that may have been made recently by the instructors.

10. Explore the Resources of Your Online School

Online schools usually have more resources than those found immediately in the portal’s to-do stream. These additional resources can include a library, tutoring services, career placement centers, and more.

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