Lately you’ve probably found yourself frantically looking for tips for online classes after the world quickly shifted in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. As countries around the world have shut their borders and locked down non-essential businesses, university and college campuses have closed all of the spaces students regularly use and shifted to online education as quickly as possible.
For some students, the shift to online studying has been so immediate and unexpected that they’re now having trouble adjusting to this new virtual learning space.
There can be many advantages with taking online courses. With your new online setting, you don’t have to get up as early to get to class, you can keep coffee and snacks on hand, you don’t have to squirm around in those hard lecture hall chairs, and you don’t even have to get out of your pajamas.
However, online studying and learning isn’t for everyone. And if you’re out here scouring the Internet for tips for online classes, chances are you’re in this category. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone, and there are plenty of resources that can help you out. Including us!
Get ready to overhaul your online experience and make the most out of an unfortunate situation. Here are 25 helpful tips for online classes you can use to become a successful online learner in no time.
1. Set SMART Goals
Setting goals is important because having something to work toward can keep you on track and focused. SMART goal setting is one of the most effective time management strategies that can be used in just about any aspect of life, including your post-college career. It’s a method designed to make sure you set goals and stay productive to achieve them.
SMART is an acronym that stands for the following:
● S – Specific
● M – Measurable
● A – Achievable
● R – Relevant
● T – Time Bound
Make sure all of your goals fit into each of these categories, as each is designed to ensure you stay on track. Setting a specific goal that has a time frame attached to it like “pass my history course with at least a B+ average” is much easier to track and achieve than a broad, overarching goal like “get a good career.”
2. Treat Your Online Courses Like Your Regular In-Person Courses
If you’re having trouble focusing on your online lectures or classes, you need to start treating them like you would your regular classes. That means getting up and getting dressed, making yourself breakfast, and going about a regular routine.
Even though it’s more tempting to just roll out of bed and attend classes in your pajamas, it’s easier to stay focused if your brain associates your online courses with a regular routine. This puts you in the habit of making your schoolwork a priority, even when it doesn’t feel like one.
Young woman studying in the family kitchen
3. Create a Workspace
You’ll need to make sure you have a dedicated workspace set up where you can do all of your lectures, assignments, and studying online in peace with minimal distractions. Of course, this will be a tough task if you’re in quarantine or self-isolation with a house full of family, roommates, or even pets. Sometimes certain circumstances don’t allow us to be picky about our study spaces. However, it’s important to try to make do with what you have available.
Try not to use your bed for this. Your brain already associates your bed with sleeping, relaxing, and even watching Netflix. If you try to do schoolwork in it, your brain will have trouble breaking out of that pattern and focusing on being productive. Look for a space that requires you to sit up straight and stay organized.
It’s best if you can set up your workspace near your WiFi router so you can stay near a strong Internet connection. However, your workspace should also be somewhere you can be in a quiet environment. Make sure whoever you live with knows not to bother you during your online courses. Give them a copy of your schedule if you need to.
4. Eliminate all Distractions
On that note, it’s important to avoid distractions. Again, this is hard when you’re in quarantine or self-isolation with a house full of other people who are home all the time, but it’s important. Distractions have a very big impact on your ability to focus and be productive.
Put your phone on airplane mode or turn it off completely during your online lectures or study sessions. It’s easy to be tempted to check your Tik Tok page or hop on to Animal Crossing to check on your virtual life. But letting yourself jump on to something else really quickly never ends well, and is rarely ever quick. Social media is a big distraction, so turn it off while you’re focusing on school. In fact, put away everything you’re working on in your downtime so you don’t have to look at it.
Female student sitting on the floor with online classes and study materials
5. Don’t Forget to Take Breaks
You’ll find this advice on just about any list of study tips you come across.
Research has shown that, at peak performance, the human brain can concentrate on one particular task for about 90 minutes at a time before it starts to run out of steam. Once your brain runs out of steam, you need to recharge its cycle so it can start focusing again. That means it’s actually better for your brain to take some breaks between study sessions.
So instead of cramming in a long online studying period and trying to get it all done at once, give your brain a break now and then to recharge. This will actually help you remember more than you would otherwise.
6. Stay Organized
Being organized is about more than just keeping a clean living space. It has a big impact on your online education, too. The tidier your workspace is, the more focused and productive you’ll be.
Staying organized helps you keep track of where everything is so you don’t go and spend 15 minutes looking for something when you need it. When you need to take down a note and can’t find a pen, it’s easy to lose track of what you were doing and get distracted when you have to go and dig around for one. Additionally, when your desk or study space is full of clutter, those items can become distractions that you’ll catch yourself playing with or staring at instead of doing your work.
Student in self-isolation with mask on a Zoom call
7. Make Use of Tried and True Study Strategies
This is not only one of the best tips for online classes that we have, but it’s also one of the best study tips in general, even for in-person classes. Try to adapt some study techniques to help you memorize information properly and efficiently so you can ace your tests and assignments.
Here are a few common study techniques:
● The pomodoro method: Use a kitchen timer and set it to 25 minute intervals. Every time the timer goes off, give yourself a small break (just a few minutes). Once you’ve completed four intervals, give yourself a longer break (15 to 20 minutes).
● Active recall: When you finish reading a section or chapter, close the book and try to repeat what you just read. If you’re blanking on the information, you didn’t absorb it well enough.use different
● Quizzes and flash cards: Make yourself flash cards and have your parents or roommates quiz you to test your knowledge. You can use apps like Quizlet to make yourself mini-quizzes to study with.
● Mnemonic devices: A mnemonic device is a way to remember information using acronyms, songs, or poems. One common example is the acronym ROY G. BIV to remember the colours of the rainbow. Rhythm-based options work best because they trigger the acoustic encoding in our brains and last longer there.
For more helpful study tips, read our blog on how to study effectively.
Male student in striped shirt doing an online class on his computer
8. Set up a Study Plan
Make yourself a study plan and stick to it. This is another way you can keep your life organized and ensure you don’t miss any important due dates, assignments, and more. A study plan is important because it helps you visualize everything you need to do, making your work harder to ignore or brush off.
Your study plan can be as simple as “study for 1 hour per day” or as complex as “study for chemistry on Monday, algebra on Tuesday, and complete my assignment on Wednesday.” Writing everything down in a detailed plan helps you keep yourself accountable and remember everything you need to do so you don’t fall behind in your online courses.
9. Get a Good Sleep
You’ve likely heard this many times before, but it’s important to get a good sleep – about seven to eight hours per night. Getting enough sleep is not only important for your physical and mental health, but also for your cognitive function. That means memory, concentration, learning potential, and more.
While you sleep, your brain essentially resets and recharges so you can power through the next day at peak performance. If you don’t give it the chance to do that, your brain will begin to experience a backlog, making it more difficult to focus on your online lectures, complete your assignments, and memorize information you study.
10. Stay Healthy and Hydrated
Speaking of keeping your brain energized and recharged, you need to do more than snooze to operate at high performance. You also need to make sure you’re eating healthy and getting enough water each day.
Your brain needs good, quality nutrients like vitamins, protein, and fibre in order to function. Just like a car needs fuel, your brain needs nutrients to keep going. If you eat junk food all the time, your brain spends more time dispelling and breaking down that waste than it does on more important things like focusing, remembering information, and learning. Water is also important for making sure nutrients reach the brain, keeping you alert and focused.
Take a look at our recommendations for the best healthy study snacks you can chow down on while you’re taking in a video lecture, doing your assignments, or studying for your next online test.
11. Don’t be Afraid to Ask For Help
Even though you’re completing online college or university classes, your professors are still there for you. If you’re having trouble with something, don’t be afraid to reach out and send them an email asking for help or clarification. No one is going to judge you, especially since so many people are still adjusting to online education as a whole. It’s better to bite the bullet and ask now than to fall behind later on when it’s too late and your finals are around the corner.
12. Connect With Your Classmates
Get in touch with your classmates and organize virtual study groups. You can have a fun Zoom chat and discuss your course material, ask for questions, or even get notes you may have missed from an online lecture. This is a great way to keep up with your emotional and social well-being while making sure you stay on top of your lessons and course materials. Don’t let an online setting deter you from making these valuable connections. You could even end up with a whole new group of friends!
13. Always Back Your Work Up
One of the downfalls of working in an online setting means that you’re relying on technology for almost everything you do. And even the most reliable networks have their flaws from time to time. Be prepared for any potential network connection issues, technology glitches, or computer crashes by backing your work up regularly.
If you can, try to work on your assignments in Google Drive or another cloud-based word processor that will auto-save in the cloud every few minutes. If your computer does crash, you can easily access your document and pick up right where you left off from another device.
College student sitting at a laptop doing classwork
14. Complete Your Assignments Ahead of Schedule
Don’t wait until the last minute to start or submit your assignments. This is one of those study tips that can be beneficial for any type of learning environment, whether you’re online or in person. In fact, once your online courses are over, you should continue this habit for the rest of your academic career.
Since this is a learning curve for many software systems and schools, as well as a higher volume of people completing online education, there’s a higher chance you may run into last minute technical difficulties when you upload your assignments. Additionally, make sure you test out all of the programs and software ahead of time in case you have trouble accessing anything.
15. Take Notes
This is one of the more commonly overlooked tips for online classes because you wouldn’t really think you’d need notes if you’re going to be looking at downloadable slides and materials. But the action of writing out your notes by hand helps you memorize the information better than simply reading the slides.
Here are some quick note-taking tips you can try out:
● Use different coloured pens for your notes. Research shows that colour can have a positive impact on brain stimulation and memory, so you’ll be able to retain information easier.
● When you type up your notes, use Times New Roman font in size 12. Studies have shown this is the fastest to read, so you can absorb information faster when studying later on.
● Never assume you’ll remember something later. Write everything down.
For more advice on effective note-taking strategies, check out this blog, where our top writers share their best secrets.
Young man participating in an online lecture
16. Take Advantage of Online Education Tools
There are so many great online education tools out there, from helpful study apps to online tutoring services. All you have to do is look!
Use websites like YouTube to search for short documentaries about the topics you’re studying. Leverage the power of social media to connect with your classmates so you can learn together. Try out timing websites like Time Doctor, Toggl, or the Pomodoro Tracker for time management. Take a free class from an accredited university and learn a new life skill on Coursera. The options are endless, and no matter what you want to do, there’s a website that can help.
17. Participate in Online Lecture Discussions
It’s important to participate in online courses, whether that means contributing to a discussion or asking questions. Depending on the type of setup your class has, you may not be able to hear other students’ questions like you would in a traditional classroom lecture. That means you have to be proactive and get answers for yourself.
Be sure to mute your microphone during your online lectures unless you’re asking a question or participating in a discussion. Background noise can be really distracting for everyone else in the class.
18. Break Your Tasks Down Into Smaller Ones
When making a to-do list or a daily task list, break down major tasks into smaller tasks so you can check off pieces one by one. For example, if you have to write a research paper, you can create separate tasks for your outline, thesis statement, introduction, and so on.
Doing this makes you feel more productive and accomplished because there’s more to check off, giving you a positive boost. Additionally, it’s a great way to stay organized because you can see exactly what tasks are left to get done.
Female student doing an online course in yoga stretching
19. De-Stress During Your Downtime
No matter how busy your online education gets, it’s important to make sure you focus on yourself, too. Being stuck at home in lockdown or quarantine doesn’t have to be all about being productive or focusing on school. You need to make sure you indulge in some self-care and prioritize your own well-being. There is already enough stress and anxiety to go around right now, so don’t let stress bring you down.
Even though you can’t get out and do some of your go-to activities, there are still plenty of things you can do at home. There are plenty of at-home workout videos, new recipes to try, shows to binge watch on Netflix, and more. If you can’t find something to do, here are some great ideas you can use to de-stress at home.
20. Identify Your Online Learning Style
Everyone is different, and that’s what makes humanity so amazing. However, that also means that there are different types of online learners out there. Some people learn better by reading, while others prefer to listen, and some need visuals to stimulate their mind and make connections.
Understanding what type of learner you are is an important part of being successful in your online courses. Just because your professor chooses a specific way to conduct their online lectures doesn’t mean that’s your only option. For example, if you have a book you need to read but you find that you never absorb information from reading, see if there’s an audiobook version you can listen to instead. Recognize your own needs and you’ll be a lot more productive.
Boyfriend and girlfriend studying together
21. Have Your Roommates or Parents Quiz You
Being quarantined with your roommates or parents can be an advantage – put them to work to help you with your online studying! Make a set of flash cards they can use, or get them to ask you questions from your notes. Anything helps.
If you happen to be in lockdown alone, or without anyone who can help you, see if you have a classmate, family member, or friend who will quiz you over a video chat. It never hurts to ask, and if they happen to be bored they’ll be more than willing to help you out.
22. Log On to The System Frequently
Log in and check your system frequently, even on the days when you don’t have any online lectures. There’s often a lot going on in online courses, from open discussions, due dates, and quizzes to updates from your professors. It’s really easy to miss notifications, and you don’t want to miss the important ones, like a schedule change or extra instructions for your assignments.
Stay on top of things and set a specific time every few days to check up on your courses. It only takes a few minutes and could save you a major headache down the road.
23. Don’t Expect to Cheat on Your Online Exams, Tests, and Quizzes
Sometimes people who take online courses look forward to the tests because they think they can keep all of their notes and tabs open to cheat. However, professors are smarter than that. Some may design the exam to be an open book, while others will put measures in place to prevent cheating.
Depending on which system your class is using, there are a couple things they may do. Firstly, some programs will record you on a webcam while you take the exam to make sure you’re not cheating. Secondly, and more commonly, most quiz systems have a browser lock in place that prevents you from clicking out of the window. To avoid this, just study properly and do the work. You’ll thank yourself later.
Student listening to study materials on the couch
24. Stay Self-Motivated
Above all of the other tips for online classes on this list, this one may be the hardest of all.
Staying self-motivated can be really tricky because there’s no specific thing that works for everyone that can magically make you more motivated. Everyone is different and responds to different things, so it’s important to find a solution that works for you and keeps you going.
That being said, here are a few little things you can do to try to improve your self-motivation and stay inspired for your online courses:
● Think positively. If you catch yourself being negative, try to stop and put a positive spin on it.
● Don’t overthink things.
● Put little motivational triggers in your workspace, like a photo of your dream career.
● Talk to the positive people in your life regularly.
● Start small, and don’t take on too much at once.
● Track your progress so you can visualize how far you’ve come.
● Change up your work environment to give yourself a fresh new outlook.
25. Be Kind and Stay Positive
Here is the key message that you absolutely need to remember if you’re having trouble adjusting to online studying: most of your professors are new to online courses, too. They didn’t have a lot of time to prepare when the universities and colleges announced everything would be going digital immediately. It’s not their fault that this is happening, either. Be kind – the world needs as much kindness as it can get right now.
Get Online Assignment Help When You Need it Most
Now that you’ve read over all of these tips for online classes, you may be wondering how you’re going to get through all of this. It may seem like a lot, and students have found themselves becoming online learners whether they asked for it or not. Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s going to be okay, and we’re ready to help you.
At Homework Help Global, we can help you with online exams or quizzes, essays and research papers, PowerPoint presentations, editing and proofreading, and any other coursework you need. Even if you just need someone to look over your work and help you improve it, we’re here for you.