5 quick tips to make online learning work for you

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About to take an online course? Congratulations! You’ll discover that e-learning is a great choice.

If you’re looking for tips to maximize online learning, here are some that have been tested to work:

  1. Have the tools and materials ready before you begin

    Know the technical specifications your computer should have. This will determine the speed and efficiency that you’ll be able to access and participate in your class. You may be also required to have:

    • apps or software for instruction or projects
    • email or social media accounts
    • other tools that are compatible with the learning platform.

    For example, you will need an internet-connected computer, tablet or mobile device to study with English Online. You must have an email address to receive registration information. You’ll also need a Skype account to access the links to classes and announcements. We recommend using the Google Chrome browser for compatibility. Lastly, having a headset with microphone will help you screen out noise during online classes, but this is optional.

    Contact your instructor immediately if you have questions or if you need technical help.

  2. Create a timetable and stick to it

    Time management is necessary when learning online. You may feel like you have so much time because you’re allowed to study at your own pace. This can lead to procrastination. It’s better to follow a schedule so you can develop good study habits. Have regular times for lectures (or synchronous sessions), reading course materials, and working on assignments or projects. This will make studying easier for you.

  3. Set learning goals and track them

    Having a list of learning goals is important to help maintain focus and motivation. It will also help you decide which activities you need do right away. Follow the SMART method when you make your goals. SMART means specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

    How to set SMART goals, Goal-setting for students, 2 minute classroom

    Check your progress, review your goals and time commitments for the course every now and then. Adjust when necessary. It can motivate you to keep studying when you see that you are about to reach your learning goals.

  4. Stay organized and keep distractions to a minimum

    Studying at home has many advantages, but there are also disadvantages. You may have kids or pets that need attention. Others might be distracted by household chores, TV or their warm bed.

    This is why it’s important to have a quiet study area. You can also use tools to boost your productivity like:

    • Pomodoro – It’s a simple technique to help you with time management. You break up your study time into chunks with short breaks in between. Pomodoro instills a sense of urgency and keeps you away from distractions. Downloading a timer on your phone can help you stay on track. Try Focus Keeper (iPhone) or Pomodoro Timer Lite (Android).
    • Evernote – This is an app that will organize all your notes, projects and tasks. It also syncs your devices so you can access them wherever you are. Evernote is free but you have to sign-up and create an account. Paid plans have more features for sharing and collaboration.
    • MyStudyLife – This is similar to a digital planner. This will help you keep track of schedules, assignments, exams, and projects. The app is free.
  5. Participate actively

    Participating in discussions, reading suggested materials, accomplishing assignments and projects, and asking questions will keep you engaged and learning fully.

    Don’t isolate yourself. Connecting with others can enrich your learning experience. Collaborate on projects, discuss lessons, and if you’re learning a language, get a conversation buddy. Use Zoom, Skype or similar platforms to meet virtually. You can also use forums, email, and social media. Of course, you can always meet in person, but video conferencing is always an option.

Article updated February 14, 2023.
Sources: Take it from someone who hates productivity hacks – The Pomodoro technique actually works, Kat Boogaard, The Muse; and Tips for Taking Online Classes: 8 Strategies for Success, Northeastern University Graduate Program. Accessed October 8, 2021.

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