Study Tips for Online Classes

By Celeste Stewart

Students attending online classes enjoy greater flexibility than their traditional counterparts, but without a solid game plan, that flexibility could turn into procrastination and last-minute study sessions. To get the most out of your experience, follow these study tips for online classes.

Online Study Environment

While your classes may take place in a virtual environment, you’ll need a calm physical environment free of distractions wherever you log on. Whether you’re using a desktop computer, laptop or tablet to access your classes, designate a specific area for your online studies that is Bright, Quiet and Free of clutter

In addition, you might want to create a “do not disturb” sign or use some other method to signal that you are participating in class.

Organized is Essential

Once you’ve designated study space, it’s time to get organized. Buy a file box or cabinet and create separate sections and folders for each online class. You’ll use these folders to store printouts, reading material, notes, clippings, study guides and miscellaneous paperwork. While most of your class materials will be electronic, you may be surprised at the amount of paper you accumulate per class.

Next, create a folder and sub-folder system on your computer for storing your electronic class documents. For example, create a primary folder called “Online College” and then create sub-folders for each class such as “Biology,” “Calculus,” and “Art History.” From there, create subfolders within each class folder for assignments, research, notes and downloaded materials.

If you do not currently have a file backup system in place, invest in one. A crashed hard disk could set your studies back significantly.

Study Schedule

Online classes allow for greater flexibility, but you will still need to participate in classes, turn in assignments and take exams within a given time period. You may have all week to view a lecture, read a study guide and turn in an essay, but if you don’t designate the time to accomplish these tasks, you could fall behind. Invest in a good student planner and use it faithfully.

Designate a time at the beginning or end of each week to plan the upcoming week’s activities. In some cases, you may find it’s best to perform routine tasks at the same time each week. In others, you may need to work around your work schedule. Plan for unexpected meetings and build time into your schedule for alternative study sessions. By planning your online study sessions in advance, you’ll be more likely to complete your tasks.

Consider these study tips when planning your week:

  • Use different colored highlighters for each class.
  • Create a master list of weekly tasks for each class and check items off as they’re accomplished.
  • Set up electronic alerts to remind you that it’s time to study.
  • Schedule a series of frequent but relatively short study sessions rather than a single long study session.

Getting the Most Out of Your Online Study Sessions

You have a calm, organized environment – now it’s time to study. For a productive study session make sure that you’re well rested and ready to focus, and then follow these study tips:

  • Review what you need to accomplish during your online study session. What do you need to learn and why? Instructors often leave clues in the class’s online study guide or even in the assignment’s description or lecture title.
  • Write down questions before you begin in your notebook and then articulate the answers afterward.
  • Participate in the course’s discussion board.

The flexibility of online classes opens up possibilities for people who may not otherwise have the chance to pursue a higher education. Use this flexibility to your advantage by creating a good study environment, getting organized and managing your time wisely.

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