A few weeks ago I asked you guys what answers you needed before you head back to school. Maddi, a sweet reader of mine, requested some help with online classes. Being that I have been an online student for the last year and a half, I figured I could help. Taking online classes is a major adjustment. It is also not for the faint of heart. Through my journey as an online student I have picked up on some great tricks to succeed. There are a few different aspects to managing online classes as a hands-on learner that we are going to focus on today.
How To Stay Focused With Online Classes
Learning how to stay focused was one of the hardest parts of becoming an online student. Being that you are most likely working from home, it is easy to become distracted. There is not a single formula on how to stay focused so let’s walk through a few different options.
Find The Right Space
The most effective strategy for me has been to work in a quiet space. I find that I become easily distracted when other people are around me or there is a lot of background noise. Personally, working at the kitchen table is the perfect space for me. This way I don’t get too comfortable like I would siting on the couch or my bed. It is easier to get work done because I am not tempted to lay back and relax.
SIDE NOTE: Having a space to work besides your bed is a great idea so your body doesn’t confuse your work and relax times.
Know Your Productive Times
Keep track of when you are the most motivated/productive and try to schedule your school time around these times. If you are most productive in the morning, set aside an hour or two to work on school. If you also have a job, request these times off or change your availability. If you act as if you have an actual class scheduled it will be easier to get work done.
Turn Off Technology
Obviously you can’t turn off your computer as an online student, but all other technology is a major distraction. Keep your phone away from you (if possible) and keep the TV off until you are done with everything you want to complete. Sometimes I like to think that I am capable of multitasking while doing homework. However, trying to watch TV and work on school typically takes me three times as long.
TIP: If you have a Mac, turn it on “do not disturb” while working on school work.
Create A “Class” Schedule
I mentioned above that you should figure out your productive times. This will be a life changer. If you work during your most productive hours, you will be able to get more done in less time. I know that the beauty of online classes is that you can literally work on them whenever you want. However, when you plan specific times, it becomes a lot easier to show up. Add the times you pick as events in your phone so you know you can’t plan anything during that time.
How To Learn The Material For Online Classes
The thing with online classes is that there is no one to teach you the material. You are responsible for learning everything. You will only get out what you put into online classes. I will be the first to admit that I skimp on the reading more often than not. However, when I put in maximum effort, I end up learning a lot more and enjoying the class as a whole.
Taking notes will help you keep track of important information you are learning throughout the class. I have had online classes where I have extremely difficult exams and detailed notes have been my saving grace. Take your time going through the textbooks. Use a pen and paper so you can organize your thoughts in a variety of ways. Some strategies I have used are color coding important information, defining key terms, and answering the learning outcome questions at the end of chapters. Let me know if you want a hole post on note taking 😉
As I said before, reading the text is not my favorite thing to do. If there are every any topics I don’t understand I try to find related videos. Sometimes professors also share materials that further explain the content of the chapter. Make sure the sources you are looking at are credible! I typically watch Ted Talks and some informational YouTube videos.
Quizlett has been my best friend in both online and traditional classes. There are many options for sets that have already been created OR you can make your own. There are also some awesome features including a matching game that helps me a lot.
If you are in an online class, I can almost guarantee that you will have a discussion board at some point. Take these seriously and really interact with your classmates. This is a great way to gain understanding of the subject as well as see other point of views. I have found I learn the most from working with my classmates.
RELATED: Get Organized As An Online Student
I hope these tips help you succeed with your online classes. If you have any others, feel free to share them in the comments below! As always, if you have any questions or need more help please shoot me an email!