Learning to Learn Online

According to the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES), there were 19 million students attending college in the United States in the fall of 2019. So many students, every year, whether doing school part time or full time, embark on their journey for higher education. This school year started like any other, but ended unlike any other. This spring, colleges all over the country are struggling to move their education primarily online to keep staff and students safe from the coronavirus. Whether you are a student who previously enjoyed online classes, or purposefully avoided them, this article aims to give helpful tips to help students navigate online classes now, for the rest of this social distancing period, and in the future. 

One of the best ways to prepare and become successful while taking online classes is to have a routine. For me, sitting down monday morning to go through and writing down zoom sessions, an assignment to-do list, and assignment due dates for each class is extremely helpful. After writing this all down in my spiral notebooks, I put the due dates in my planner and schedule out what day I am going to complete which assignment. With online classes, most of my assignments are due on Saturday and Sunday so making myself “deadlines” that allow me to split up the work amongst the entire week is helpful. This won’t work for everyone, so find your own routine and stick to it!

Time management is extremely important when working with online classes. Especially if you have a whole week to do assignments if your assignments are all due on Sunday, it’s easy to put it off. Having a routine for when you do homework everyday, and planning it out is helpful but it is also helpful to get assignments done ahead of time. EDX Blog says, “Be planful and dedicate time to learn as you would to exercise or spending time with friends.” This doesn’t mean that you can only do homework during a four hour window you set aside. You can also watch a lecture while cooking dinner, or send a few emails in between taking a walk and cleaning your room. Be mindful with your time. 

Once you get a routine, also work on limiting distractions. An article titled “9 Tips for People Taking Online Classes” on Forbes website says to “Close your chat windows, other Internet tabs, and online games while working on your online class work.” I often have to put my phone in another room so that I don’t get in the habit of picking it up and scrolling through instagram when I am trying to get some work done. Distractions can also be clutter, so keeping your space, whether that means your bedroom, your living room, or your kitchen table, clean will help you stay focused. 

Limiting your distractions goes hand in hand with keeping your environment positive and being prepared. Wherever you are working from, make sure to have your laptop charger, your headphones, your notebook, pencils, and your planner handy so you don’t have to continuously get up when you need something. I even go as far as having a snack and water handy! 

Plan ahead. No one wants to be turning in an essay 5 minutes before the deadline only to have their internet crash right as they press submit. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to expect internet failures and delays. 

“Be your own boss” says thebestschools.org. We all know the feeling of having accountability when you are in class with a professor, but when you are at home working, it is easy to get distracted while on zoom meetings, listening to lectures, or even just trying to complete an assignment. Professors hold us accountable in class, but it is our job to hold ourselves accountable online.

All of this is great for helping students become successful while doing school online. COVID-19 has changed so much and everyone is going through something, so the best advice is to take it easy. Be kind to yourself as you sort through your school work in this new normal. It’s okay to take time for yourself and it’s good to take breaks! Be kind to yourself and also get work done so that you don’t have to deal with that stress. 

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