11 Techniques to Be Successful in Online Classes (2023)

Distance learning has come a long way since the correspondence courses of the mid-19th century. These days, it’s possible to take courses on just about anything you can imagine from the comfort of your home.

Whether you’re looking to save money on general education courses, complete a degree while working full-time, or expand your professional prospects with a course on Skillshare, online classes have made education more accessible than ever before.

For all their benefits, however, online classes also offer some unique challenges compared to traditional, in-person classes. Without a plan for managing these challenges, your performance could suffer.

Below, I’ll explore some of the common challenges that online learners face, along with how to overcome them.

Note: This article focuses on online college classes, but there are lessons you can apply to any kind of distance learning.

If you’d prefer to watch, rather than read, we cover many of the following tips in this video:

Treat It Like an In-Person Class

While video conferencing apps have made it easier to host live virtual classes, most online classes are still taught asynchronously. Your professor may post a lecture video or slides each week, and you may have to turn in assignments every so often. But besides this, it can be easy to forget you’re even taking a class.

Without the regular meetings of in-person classes, it’s easy to fall into bad habits and get behind on your work. To avoid this, treat online classes like in-person classes.

Even if the class doesn’t meet at a particular time each week, set a time on your calendar when you’ll “go to class.” Have a routine just like you would if you were going to class in-person.

(Video) 11 Techniques to Be Successful in Online Classes

Get up at the same time each day, take a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and then “go to class.” It may seem silly, but it will make a big difference in your motivation and productivity.

Form a Virtual Study Group

If you’re used to studying in groups, then online classes can be an adjustment. Sure, you still have classmates, but there isn’t the same connection you’d get sitting next to someone in class. And you can’t just ask a few classmates if they want to go to the library after class to study.

However, you can still get the benefits of studying with other people even in an online class. You just have to be a bit more creative.

If your class has some kind of online discussion forum, post and ask if any classmates want to study together over video conferencing. And once you’ve found some study partners, try to meet with them at the same time(s) each week. This way, you’ll get the learning benefits of studying in a group and have someone to hold you accountable.

If you can’t find study partners from your actual class, you can use an app like Focusmate. Focusmate lets you find an accountability partner with whom you can virtually study/work over a video call. Even though your accountability partner (likely) won’t be studying the same material, knowing that there’s another person working “in the room” will keep you from slacking off.

Use the Resources Your Teacher Provides

Just like with in-person classes, academic success is about more than attending class and reading the textbook. To master the material, you need to take advantage of all the resources available to you.

For instance, if your professor offers virtual office hours, be sure to attend them. Bring any questions you have about homework, lectures, or upcoming exams.

Likewise, if your professor provides additional resources to practice and understand the material, use them. Especially since you can do all of this without leaving your house, you have no excuse.

Have a Dedicated Study Space

If your class were meeting in real life, you’d be in a classroom or lecture hall. While you don’t need to recreate that environment at home, having a dedicated study space will help you stay focused when it’s time to study and disconnect when it isn’t.

Your study space can be anywhere that helps you focus. Whether it’s a nook in your bedroom, a spot at your kitchen table, or even a chair on your balcony, get creative with the space you have.

(Video) 11 Techniques to Be Successful in Online Classes

My only word of warning is to avoid somewhere that’s too comfortable or distracting. Don’t study sitting in bed or next to your game system. Find a place that signals “it’s time to work.”

For more detailed advice on creating a study space, check out this guide.

Eliminate Distractions

Without a professor looking over your shoulder or classmates sitting next to you, it’s easy to get distracted with social media, your roommates, video games, or other things you’d rather be doing than studying.

Do what you can to eliminate or at least minimize these distractions. Having a study space will help, but you can also use apps like Freedom to block digital distractions.

If you’re having trouble focusing on one assignment, use the Pomodoro technique to force yourself to study. Set a timer for 25 minutes, work only on one task, and then take a short break before repeating the process until your work is done.

Take Notes

Without live classes, it’s tempting to skip taking notes. All of the information is available online, so you can just refer back to it when it’s time to do homework or study for an exam…right?

While having all the class info online can be helpful for reviewing material, you should still take notes.

After all, the main value in taking notes isn’t to produce an archive of the material.

The real benefit of taking notes is that it helps you engage with the material and put it in your own words. This boosts both your comprehension and retention.

For more on the benefits of taking notes (and how to take them), check out this guide.

(Video) 11 Tips to Succeed in Online College Courses 2021 #precious kolleena

Beware of Sneaky Deadlines

In an in-person class, the professor probably reminds you of upcoming due dates. But with online classes, you may not get these reminders. Therefore, you need to be extra diligent about monitoring deadlines.

At the start of the class, read through the syllabus and find all deadlines for assignments. Put this information on your calendar, and consult that calendar regularly. Also, look out for changes to deadlines so that you can update your calendar accordingly.

Having a calendar of deadlines won’t guarantee that you’ll turn everything in on time (you still need to do the work). But it will help you avoid damaging your grade just because you forgot an assignment was due.

Check Your Email Regularly

Normally, I wouldn’t advise you to spend more time checking your email. But with online classes, it’s crucial to keep up with messages from your instructor. This way, you’re aware of changes to due dates, new guidelines for assignments, updated study resources, and announcements of office hours.

Depending on how you’re taking online classes, there may also be an online message portal to check in addition to or instead of email. Whatever method the professor uses to communicate, be sure to monitor it regularly. To make sure you don’t forget, create a recurring task on your to-do list called “Check for messages from my professor.”

Don’t Procrastinate

Online classes can invite epic procrastination. Without regular class meetings to keep you engaged and accountable, you can end up leaving all your work until the end of the semester.

This can be fun when the final exam is still months away. But it can turn into a world of pain when you’re trying to cram a whole semester of learning into one night.

To avoid this situation, create your own schedule for completing your work. Set due dates for reading a certain number of pages, completing problem sets, or whatever you need to do to learn the material.

Spreading the work throughout the semester will make it more manageable and help you actually learn it (as opposed to memorizing it once for an exam and then forgetting it).

Avoid Overscheduling

Since online classes don’t require you to meet in person for 3 or 4 hours a week, it’s easy to underestimate how much work they can be. If you aren’t careful, you could end up with a crushing workload.

(Video) HOW TO SUCCEED IN ONLINE COLLEGE CLASSES | 10+ TIPS & TRICKS | alexia martin

To avoid this, assume that each online class will require the same amount of time as an in-person class. Even if this isn’t true in practice, it will prevent you from overscheduling yourself and getting overwhelmed.

Additionally, speak to an advisor if possible. They can help you decide how many online classes are realistic for your schedule.

Get Help If You’re Falling Behind

When you aren’t physically in the classroom, it can be harder to ask your professor for help. You can’t just walk up to them after class or find them in their office around campus. You’ll need to take more initiative.

However, don’t let this difficulty prevent you from getting help. If you aren’t understanding the material or you’re falling behind on assignments, talk to the instructor ASAP. The longer you wait to get help, the further behind you’ll fall and the more likely you are to perform poorly on exams.

If the assistance your professor offers isn’t enough, look into additional resources.

Chegg Study offers affordable help with homework from subject experts, as well as solutions to problem sets from many textbooks.

And free resources like Khan Academy or Crash Course can provide explanations of common concepts across subjects, giving you a different perspective than your professor’s.

Online Classes Are an Opportunity

While this article has mostly focused on the potential pitfalls of online classes, distance learning also has many advantages. It’s a chance to become more productive since there are fewer distractions. And you can work at your own pace, pausing or rewinding lectures that you don’t understand (try doing that in-person).

If you view online classes this way (and follow the tips above), then they can be just as rewarding and educational as in-person classes.

Looking for more help with distance learning and remote work? Check out our full list of resources.

(Video) 3 tips to succeed in online classes

Image Credits: man with headphones studying

FAQs

What are the 10 benefits of online classes? ›

What are the Benefits of Online Classes for Students?
  • The “Home” Advantage. Digital learning has made learning interesting and fun for students. ...
  • Escape the Traffic. ...
  • Saves your Time and Money. ...
  • Best Online Guidance. ...
  • Instant Doubt Resolution. ...
  • Increased Convenience and Flexibility. ...
  • Enhances Self-Discipline. ...
  • Optimises focus.

What are the keys to successful online learning? ›

Eight Tips for Successful Online Learning
  1. Set clear expectations. ...
  2. Check all technical requirements. ...
  3. Have a stable, reliable internet connection. ...
  4. Designate a study area. ...
  5. Get organized. ...
  6. Schedule regular study breaks. ...
  7. Reward yourself. ...
  8. Participate in online discussions.
16 Sept 2020

What factors could contribute to the success of online classes? ›

Five Factors for Successful Online Learning
  • Use a systems approach to course design. ...
  • Provide professional development. ...
  • Set student expectations. ...
  • Create community. ...
  • Take advantage of the online environment.
29 Mar 2018

How can I be successful in study? ›

10 Habits of Successful Students
  1. Get Organized. Making a plan for what you're going to do and when you're going to do it will make sure you're always ahead of the curve - literally.
  2. Don't multitask. ...
  3. Divide it up. ...
  4. Sleep. ...
  5. Set a schedule. ...
  6. Take notes. ...
  7. Study. ...
  8. Manage your study space.

How can students improve online learning? ›

Embracing digital communication through emails, student chat rooms, social media channels, online forums, and more, is the key to increasing the effectiveness of online learning. Students can interact with classmates and raise doubts relevant to the course and assignments.

What are the top 20 advantages of online learning and digital courses? ›

20 advantages of online learning

Comfort of learning from your own home. Ability to work a job while you study. They offer ultimate convenience and flexibility. Earn bonus points for your resumé

What are 5 advantages of online learning? ›

Ten Advantages of Online Courses
  • Online courses are convenient. ...
  • Online courses offer flexibility. ...
  • Online courses bring education right to your home. ...
  • Online courses offer more individual attention. ...
  • Online courses help you meet interesting people. ...
  • Online courses give you real world skills.

How important is online learning? ›

Online education enables you to study or teach from anywhere in the world. This means there's no need to commute from one place to another, or follow a rigid schedule. On top of that, not only do you save time, but you also save money, which can be spent on other priorities.

What skill is critical to success in online learning? ›

Successful online learners need to be motivated in becoming more educated in the class topic. Good time management skills. Every online class is structured differently and will require a different amount of effort and time commitment. Good communication skills.

What are the 7 types of effective study habits? ›

7 Effective Study Habits for School
  • Establish a study area at home. ...
  • Communicate with the teacher. ...
  • Keep assignments organized. ...
  • Avoid procrastination. ...
  • Take notes in class. ...
  • Highlight key concepts in the reading materials. ...
  • Prepare your book-bag before going to bed.

What are the 5 successful study habits? ›

Five good study habits
  • Make a schedule. Number one on any list of study habits has to be making a schedule. ...
  • Create your environment. This one is so important while we're on lockdown. ...
  • Study in bursts. Treat your brain like a muscle. ...
  • Sleep. Of all the tips on this list, this could be the most important. ...
  • Find a study group.
6 Apr 2020

How can I study smart? ›

So to study smarter, exercise at least three times a week for 30 to 45 minutes each time. You'll be healthier and more energetic, and you'll remember information better too.

How can I improve my learning skills? ›

Top 10 Strategies for Learning New Skills
  1. Ditch Your Learning Style. Are you a visual learner? ...
  2. Make It More Meaningful for Yourself. ...
  3. Learn by Doing. ...
  4. Study the Greats, and Then Practice. ...
  5. Teach What You Learn. ...
  6. Spend More Time Practicing Things You Find Difficult. ...
  7. Take Frequent Breaks. ...
  8. Test Yourself.
11 Jul 2017

How can I improve my e learning skills? ›

How To Continually Develop Your eLearning Skills And Knowledge
  1. Create eLearning News Alerts. ...
  2. Get Involved Outside Of The Virtual Classroom. ...
  3. Try Other eLearning Courses. ...
  4. Play With Technology. ...
  5. Stay Engaged With Online Learners. ...
  6. Step Inside Your Online Learners' Shoes. ...
  7. Join An Online Discussion. ...
  8. Attend Webinars.
29 Jun 2017

How can students improve learning? ›

Implementation Ideas:
  1. Ask students to share information about each other's backgrounds and academic interests.
  2. Encourage students to prepare together for classes or exams.
  3. Create study groups within your course.
  4. Ask students to give constructive feedback on each other's work and to explain difficult ideas to each other.
22 Aug 2022

What are the benefits of online learning essay? ›

It reduces nervousness among students, as many are able to communicate more through online education than regular classes. One can learn from merely anyplace as long as they have an available internet device. Online education normally provides a chance to study at our own speed as there is no rush.

What is the impact of online classes on students? ›

The challenges of online learning can impact children to a great extent; loss of motivation, self-discipline, and the need to study are some of the biggest problems children face.

What are the top three things you want to learn online? ›

You can master almost anything using the Internet these days. Some valuable skills to learn online include coding, graphic design, languages, and data analytics.

How do online classes save time? ›

A few ways in which e-learning saves time: With eLearning, learners get to learn at their own pace, rather than moving with the pace of the classroom. So quicker learners are not held back by the group. With eLearning, there is no travel involved, to and from the training venue.

Why do students prefer online classes? ›

It Offers More Flexibility

One of the significant reasons why many students prefer online learning is because of the flexibility it offers. Unlike traditional classes that have a fixed schedule, online classes are typically asynchronous and give you the freedom to organize your classes at your convenience.

Why Is online learning better than face to face learning? ›

Students Gain More Knowledge Than In Standard Classes

Because online courses provide students with full control over their studies, they can work at their own pace. Pupils, on average, work faster and absorb more information in online courses than they would otherwise.

Is online education effective? ›

To conclude this topic, online classes are effective if they are done correctly, and for some students, they can be better than classes at regular school. Flexibility and individual learning are just some of the benefits of online education, there are many others.

Are online students more successful? ›

Some students do as well in online courses as in in-person courses, some may actually do better, but, on average, students do worse in the online setting, and this is particularly true for students with weaker academic backgrounds.

How do students survive online classes? ›

Here are some of their valuable tips to help you make the most out of your online learning experience.
  1. Assess yourself as a student. Not all students are the same when it comes to learning. ...
  2. Stick to a schedule. ...
  3. Take necessary breaks. ...
  4. Make a to-do list that works for you. ...
  5. Make the most of your resources.
10 Sept 2020

How do you overcome challenges in online learning? ›

5 Ways to Overcome the Challenges of Virtual Learning
  1. Create a Schedule and Stick to It. ...
  2. Find a Productive Workplace. ...
  3. Minimize the Technical Issues. ...
  4. Join Virtual Learning Communities. ...
  5. Make Use of Communication Platforms. ...
  6. Virtual Learning Doesn't Have to be Difficult.

How do you stay focused online classes? ›

Study Tips for Online Classes
  1. Establish a dedicated study area. Don't double your kitchen or dining room table as a classroom. ...
  2. Eliminate Distractions. ...
  3. Reward Yourself. ...
  4. Try The Pomodoro Technique. ...
  5. Form a study group. ...
  6. Take handwritten notes. ...
  7. Set Dedicated Study Time. ...
  8. Don't Forget To Sleep.

What are the benefits of online learning? ›

Advantages of Online Learning
  • Flexibility. ...
  • Reduced Costs. ...
  • More Free Time. ...
  • Increased Course Variety. ...
  • Career Advancement Opportunities. ...
  • Increased Collaboration. ...
  • Personalized Education. ...
  • Enhanced Time Management Skills.

Is online learning effective? ›

Online learning is not only more effective for students, but it is also better for the environment. Online courses consume 90% less energy and release 85% less CO2 per student than traditional in-person courses, according to the Open University in the United Kingdom.

How does online learning affect students? ›

Benefits of online learning

Numerous studies reported that online learning could increase student participation, improve discussion quality, and foster online interactions. The discussion forum could support students and improve learning by solving difficult problems.

How can distance learning be effective? ›

As you transition to distance learning, below are several practical recommendations to help you succeed.
  1. Communicate with your Instructor. ...
  2. Explore and Familiarize Yourself with any Technology that is new to You. ...
  3. Identify a Study Space. ...
  4. Keep Your Class Schedule, Even When you are Home.

How can I focus better in class? ›

9 Ways to Stay Focused in Class
  1. Make sure you're hydrated and rested. Not an ideal location, but you get the idea. ...
  2. Eliminate distractions. × ...
  3. Do work at the right level of difficulty. ...
  4. Think of questions. ...
  5. Get involved in discussion. ...
  6. Take detailed notes. ...
  7. Find a source of motivation. ...
  8. Check for medical difficulties.

How can I concentrate in class? ›

Top ways to stay focused in class
  1. Eat Breakfast. It's a cliche but true: It's the most important meal of the day. ...
  2. Use Pocket Points. Pocket Points is a mobile application that gives students rewards for not using their phone during class. ...
  3. Move around. ...
  4. Take notes. ...
  5. Make a friend. ...
  6. Bring a snack. ...
  7. Get sleep. ...
  8. Sit close to the front.
4 Oct 2017

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