Online learning has some serious advantages. You’re not limited to programs in your local area, you can study wherever it suits you, and you can prepare for a new career even while juggling a job and other commitments.
But virtual learning has its own set of challenges. The convenience and flexibility are great, but it’s not the same as going to a physical classroom each day.
Many students find it tough to stay focused and motivated when there’s no one telling them where and when to study.
So how can you take control of your studies and get the most out of your online learning experience?
Here are a few tips to help you stay on track.
1. GET THE LOGISTICS SORTED OUT EARLY
Before you start any online classes, you need to work out some key details. Make sure you:☑️ Have a reliable Internet connection—You don’t want to get disconnected during a live workshop or while you’re trying to upload an assignment. For the best experience, use an ethernet cable rather than relying on Wi-Fi (if possible).
☑️ Get familiar with the school’s online learning system—Explore the different tabs so you know where to find assignments, activities, and deadline information. Find out how to access library resources and contact instructors.
☑️ Collect and test the tech you need—Download whatever software or apps are required for your course. If you’ll be doing video calls, test your webcam and microphone.
☑️ Know who to contact—It’s important to find out who you should talk to if you run into technical problems. Keep the support number or email address handy in case you hit a snag.
2. ESTABLISH (AND STICK TO) A STUDY ROUTINE
Many online classes are asynchronous, meaning you don’t have to be online at a certain time. But then it’s up to you to set aside time to watch lectures and complete assignments.
To keep your virtual learning on track, create a schedule.
Commit to a specified time for schoolwork that fits with your learning style and other commitments. If possible, schedule your most challenging tasks for times when you’re most productive.
And when you do sit down to study, eliminate as many distractions as you can. That could mean putting away your phone, closing browser tabs you don’t need, or using headphones to shut out noise.
3. FIND AN ACCOUNTABILITY BUDDY
If you’re constantly putting off studying or missing deadlines, you might benefit from having someone else check in on your progress.
Asking a friend or classmate to be your accountability buddy is a great way to overcome the urge to procrastinate. You’re much more likely to keep up with your goals if you have someone else asking how things are going and providing encouragement along the way.
You can try asking someone in the same course, or even a friend who lives far away. Once you’ve found a partner, set some guidelines for how often you’ll check in with each other and what communication channels you’ll use to do so.
4. STUDY EFFECTIVELY
Start by creating a study space that works for you. Make sure it has adequate lighting and a setup that doesn’t have you sitting on the floor balancing your laptop on your knees. You need to be comfortable.
Many online classes rely on recorded videos, which is great because you can pause them every few minutes and jot down a quick summary of what’s being said. Remember to include the time (02:40) so you can easily refer back to that part of the video if needed.
It’s also important to take regular, short breaks. Instructors in in-person classes do this, and you should too. You’ll be fresher and better able to concentrate.
Don’t just be a casual observer. To get the most from online learning, you should ask questions and participate in class discussions as much as possible.
Messaging other students or posting comments on online forums can help you gain new perspectives and better understand the material. The more you participate, the more you learn.
And if you’re confused about something, email the instructor. Some students take a hit on their grades because they simply don’t ask for the help they need.
6. FOCUS ON THE END GOAL
When your motivation lags, remind yourself why you’re taking the course in the first place. Maybe you’re hoping to upgrade your skills or train for a new career.
Whatever your goal, write it down and post it in an easily visible place.
Visualizing what you want to accomplish can boost your drive and help you focus on your studies.
WANT TO EXPLORE ONLINE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES?
Herzing College offers a variety of convenient online courses that can help you develop the skills to begin a new career or advance in your current one.
You can learn from experienced industry professionals and fit your training around your busy schedule.
Need more info? An Admissions Advisor can take you through all the options and help you determine which program meets your needs and goals.
Click below to explore our online programs and chat live with an Advisor. We’re here to help!