Student working on laptop at home with a lamp-lit desk.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by remote learning, you’re not alone. Here are some tips to help you succeed in your online classes.

Treat your online courses the same as in-person classes

Taking classes from home may feel like a bit of a vacation. However, it’s important to treat your online classes like any other course. One of the easiest ways to succeed in online courses is to show up. When class is in session, stay engaged, participate in activities, ask questions and provide feedback when necessary. 

Familiarize yourself with the technology

Explore the features that are available through Zoom, Canvas and other software your instructors may be using. Sign in to your classes early to testsettings and ask questions if you have issues. If you experience difficulties, reach out to the Office of Information and Technology (OIT) for support.

Hold yourself accountable

Set goals and check in with yourself regularly. In a traditional classroom setting, you may receive l reminders about assignments and due dates. However, your instructors may not actively remind you in an online setting. It’s up to you to make sure you’re keeping track of classwork and allowing yourself enough time to complete assignments and homework.

Find an accountability partner you can check in with, whether it's a friend or classmate. Being proactive and self-aware can help you make the most of online classes, especially as things continue to change. 

Establish a dedicated workspace

Set up a dedicated space for studying and classwork. Consistently working in the same physical space can help you establish a routine. Whether it’s your kitchen table, desk or living room, choose an environment that works best for you. Try different areas to determine which spot allows you to be the most productive.

Setting up a workspace can also help you stay organized. Keep all of your class materials nearby for easy access. This includes syllabi, books, assignments, a planner or other resources. Make sure you have access to reliable high-speed internet. And keep a pair of headphones at your workstation. They will come in handy for online lectures and discussions, especially if you’re working in a shared space. 

Reduce distractions

Technology can be a great resource for learning and organization. But it can also become a distraction and hinder your academic success. Boost your productivity by limiting apps and tools while working on assignments or attending online lectures. Close out of your email, messages and social media accounts before each class. Try putting your phone in ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode, so you’re not tempted when you get a notification.

Living with roommates? Discuss your class schedules and study spaces together. Work together to determine things like where each person will be studying, what times you each have lectures and if there are any important assignments coming up, like tests or exams. Talking through logistics and expectations can help you avoid stress or tension.

Stay organized

It’s important to stay organized in any course, especially those that are online. Organize your files in a way that makes sense to you, so they’re easy to find. Keep a copy of anything you submit online in case a technology issue requires you to resubmit your work. This includes discussion forum posts. As with any other class, take good notes while doing your readings and watching online lectures.

Manage your time

Just as you might attend in-person lectures at regular times throughout the week, you’ll need to schedule time to attend online lectures, study and complete assignments. Treat these blocks of time seriously by sticking to them. Let your family and friends know you’ll be unavailable.

  • Look at your syllabi for assignment due dates. Check in with your professor about syllabus changes.
  • Create a weekly schedule for reading, watching lectures, completing assignments, studying and participating in discussion forums.
  • Set reminders in your planner, calendar or phone about assignment due dates, tests and other important dates.
  • Try out time-blocking.  Give yourself a certain amount of time for each task before moving on to the next one. Use your phone or a timer to keep yourself accountable.
  • Check in with yourself regularly about how you’re spending your time. How much time are you dedicating to reading and assignments? Are you underestimating the time it takes to get things done? Are you cramming the night before for exams and other assignments? Use this self-reflection to make adjustments to your routine.


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