How to succeed in online classes
Although starting online classes can seem daunting, there are several steps you can take to make sure your online classes, lectures, and courses are as effective as possible. Again, much of the knowledge and many of the skills are things you may apply to your learning already. However, it’s worth knowing how and when to use these skills.
To succeed with online learning, there are four main areas you might want to consider. Paying some attention to each of these can help you learn as efficiently as possible:
Build a routine
Your learning routine is one of the cornerstones of your online studies. If you keep up positive habits, you’ll soon see the results. Although it’s tempting to get complacent when your classes are on the internet (whether live or recorded), it’s vital you stay focused. Here are some ways you can do so:
Treat online classes as you would in person
One of the best ways to succeed with online learning is to treat the experience as you would with an in-person class. This means approaching your studies in the same way you would if you had to attend the class in person. Hold yourself to the same standards, making sure you’re organised, on time, and ready to learn.
As enticing as the prospect of studying from your bed or playing video games during lectures or classes sounds, it’s not conducive to learning. You wouldn’t do it during your regular studies, so avoid doing so when you’re learning online.
Part of treating your online learning as you would with an in-person experience is to keep disciplined. Although your home might not look like a classroom, you still need to have the same self-discipline when it comes to independent learning. Your schedule should match that outlined in your courses, and you also need to dedicate time to your own studies outside of that.
Set aside time and space in your day to study, and stick to your timetable once you have it. Try and account for the time spent at your desk, as well as that for things like lunch, short breaks, and the end of your day. Writing your schedule down can help, as visualising your plans might help you to stay on track with your learning.
Write up your notes
Whether your classes or seminars are pre-recorded or broadcast live, you should aim to make time to write up your notes. It might be tempting to think of the online resources as pre-made study notes. However, making your own notes encourages you to engage with the material and put it into your own words.
For a live video, try and pay attention to what’s going on at the moment rather than writing notes straight away. Hopefully, you’ll be able to revisit the video later. If your class or course is pre-recorded, you can pause and take notes as you go.
Learning is a two-way process. Although turning up to online classes or reviewing the material is important, so is getting involved with the discussion. Ask questions where appropriate, and don’t be afraid to seek help with the material if you need it.
You may also find that there are things like discussion groups, forums, or message boards where you can post questions. Try and contribute to these where you can, whether it’s reading what others have written or asking some questions yourself. At the end of the day, you’re there to learn, so if you don’t understand something, you’ve a right to ask for clarification!
Once your class, lecture, or seminar is over, don’t just forget about it and move on. As well as writing up your notes, spend some time thinking about the subject you covered and any questions that were asked. Make sure that you’ve grasped the details before you conclude your learning.
Skills to succeed in online classes
One of the key assets that can help with your online learning experience is your soft skills. These are the character traits, behaviours, and attitudes that help you deal with challenges. There are all kinds of these that can help you succeed with online learning, and many are those you may use in regular classes:
There is always the danger of procrastination when you’re studying remotely. Depending on several factors, your courses may or may not be taught in real-time. Either way, your study timetable might not be particularly well-defined. As such, it’s up to you to manage your own time and make sure you meet deadlines.
A good place to start is by reviewing the syllabus for each of your courses. You can then identify when your key dates are, such as due assignments and exams. Add these to your diary or planner, so they don’t take you by surprise. Daily to-do lists can also help you keep on track, as well as give you the satisfaction of ticking off your achievements.
We’ve already outlined how important your learning routine is. As well as organising your time, you need to plan how you’re going to complete your work, where you’re going to study, and what type of environment is best for you.
There are all kinds of ways you can organise your efforts. A study diary, filing system, and to-do lists are all useful. Similarly, you’ll want to make sure that you have everything you need for a productive work environment, which we cover in more detail further down.
With so much of our world taking place online already, you’re probably pretty familiar with a lot of the technology you’ll be using. Yet to succeed with online learning, you need to know about how to apply some of the essential digital skills to your studies.
It’s worthwhile knowing how to harness the digital tools and online resources provided by your educators. Equally, understanding how to develop relationships and build a support network is essential.
When you’re learning online, strong communication and collaboration skills are vital. The skills needed are different from those required in the classroom, meaning it’s worthwhile thinking about them too. As well as discussing and sharing your work with tutors, you’ll also need to work with others on some projects.
Understanding where your strengths and weaknesses are in this regard is essential. By working on these skills, you can ensure that you understand course content and that your needs and questions are understood by others.