July 29, 2020

How To Be Successful In An Online Class

Many students are considering taking online courses through Alachua e-School, FLVS or the Digital Academy for the 2020-2021 school year. During my undergrad time at UF, I have taken at least 20 classes online. I’ve tried and failed and succeeded. It’s a matter of prioritizing and learning what works best for you. Here are some tips and tricks that I use to be successful in an online class:

  1. Have a quiet place to study

Whether it be in your room, outside, or even at the public library (with social distancing, of course!), having a quiet place to watch online instruction/lecture and complete homework allows you to focus on the tasks at hand without getting distracted by background noises at home.

  1. Use headphones

Maybe you’re at home with your siblings or parents who are also working online so it can be hard to find a quiet place. This is where headphones come in handy! They don’t need to be fancy or noise-canceling, just a simple pair of headphones or earphones will help direct sound so that it doesn’t get mixed in with the background noise.

  1. Put your phone on silent mode

Silent mode means that your phone won’t ring or vibrate when you get a notification. Rather than turning off push notifications for all of your apps, silent mode is an easy way to cut back on distractions. You can even go a step further and turn your phone face down on the table!

  1. Find an organizational tool that works for you

There are plenty of apps that can help keep you organized. Google Calendar, myHomework, My Study Life can keep track of due dates and responsibilities for your classes, or you can use a handwritten planner.

sticky notes on a wall calendar
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash
  1. Check your online class management system daily

You might think that you entered the right due date in your planner but it’s better to be safe than sorry! You won’t be seeing your teacher in-person every day so you’ll need to hold yourself accountable for turning in assignments.

  1. Take notes by hand

It’s easy to sit on your bed and listen to online class instruction (lecture) with your headphones, and it’s just as easy to “space out” and not actively listen. Have a notebook and pen with you while you’re watching lecture and write down the key points just like you would for an in-person class. Taking notes by hand can actually help you retain more information compared to typing notes on your computer (, 2014).

  1. Take breaks

Taking breaks will help your brain process the information you just learned in lecture. If you try to watch too many lectures at once, your brain can get overloaded and the information can blur together. Go for a walk, make a snack, or just listen to a couple of your favorite songs! Do not try to watch an entire week’s worth of lectures on Friday night at 8 p.m. (Trust me, I’ve done it and it is not fun!). Use your planner to block out lecture times, homework times and break times.

  1. Don’t submit right before the deadline

Your internet will lag or stop working completely and then your assignment won’t be accepted by the learning management system. Your teacher will give you assignments ahead of time. Use your planner and schedule accordingly.

  1. Cite your sources as you work

Did you notice in #6 how I cited a article? When writing assignments for an online class, search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing are an easy way to collect information quickly. Make sure you keep track of your citations as you work rather than trying to remember where you found all of your information at the end of the assignment. If not, you could be penalized for plagiarism, which in some cases could mean that you automatically fail the class.

  1. Ask for help

You, your classmates and your teacher are in this together. 2020-2021 will be a school year like no other so if you aren’t sure how to do something, ask for help! Try starting a group chat with your classmates where you can ask questions like “What chapters are we supposed to read again?” or “Can someone help me understand what the assignment requirements are?”. Or, you can just send friendly reminders like “Don’t forget that the chapter 1 quiz is due tonight!”.

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

These tips and tricks are not one size fits all. You have to find what works best for you! Maybe you like the background noise in Starbucks while you study or maybe you’ve figured out how to take good notes on the computer. At the end of the class, you want to feel good about the work you’ve produced. If you let yourself fall behind each week or don’t ask for help when you’re struggling, an online class can quickly become too much to handle, but you can do it!