How To Be Successful in Online Classes During COVID-19

By DeVry University

Colleges and Universities around the world are taking important and responsible action to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Actions vary from announcing altered course schedules to moving all classes to an online/remote format. Many teachers, administrators and students - are having to adapt quickly to changes.

For students who are self-directed, self-motivated and who easily embrace new technology, online coursework can offer much welcomed flexibility while also enabling a positive learning experience. For others, however, the adjustment may not be as seamless, and may initially present challenges for new online learners. It’s important to choose a school that can support the needs of an online student. Either way, the following tips can help all students learn how to be successful in online classes – even during these uncertain times.

Set Personal Goals.

Start with the right motivation. Determine that you are going to succeed in your classes, no matter the location, and develop a plan for doing so. Set a goal or benchmark for what success looks like to you. Then, develop a plan to work toward that benchmark. Will you study every morning for one hour? Read for 30 minutes over lunch? Complete a practice exam?

If you’re getting behind with reaching those goals, take a deep breath and relax. Re-focus on your intended accomplishments, and if helpful, call a friend or classmate to share your goals. Or touch base with your professor or student support advisor. Often, verbalizing your goals to others can help keep you motivated and on-track.

Give Yourself Permission to Stumble.

If you’re new to online learning and wondering how to be successful in online classes, it’s important that you give yourself time to learn, grow and permission to stumble. You may need a few attempts to connect your video-conference, you may have trouble with new learning formats, or adhering to a schedule while being at home. This is all normal as you adapt to new ways of doing things. Give yourself the freedom to experience a few bumps along the way, but stay positive and adjust to get back on track.

Create a Space Conducive to Studying.

Wherever you choose to study, setting up a dedicated space and routine will help set you up for success. Look for a spot in your home that’s away from noise and distractions. Of course, having a dedicated office is ideal, however, certainly not required. Get creative if needed. A small table in a bedroom or basement can function as a desk. Have headphones handy to use to block out noise if needed or for participating in group project calls.

Keep coffee, soda or water on hand to keep you awake or hydrated, as well as snacks to keep your mind fueled as you study. If you find your energy waning, take a break. Go for a quick walk around the block or a quick jog up and down your stairs. Getting in some movement, if only for a few minutes, can help you return to your studies feeling refreshed.

Avoid Distractions.

With all of the multi-tasking we do and always connected mind-set, it’s all too easy to get distracted from your studies. Turning off your phone or using airplane mode can big a big help in eliminating these types of outside distractions. If you need be online to conduct research, set aside dedicated blocks of time just for that purpose and turn-off other social notifications.  This will help eliminate disruptions. Although it’s tempting to do a “quick check” of your social feed, it can end up costing you valuable study time.  Some find it helpful to use a timer-based concentration technique, such as Pomodoro.  Techniques like these allow you to concentrate in small blocks of time, with small breaks in between. This is an excellent, structured approach for those just beginning to work and learn from home.

Stay Connected with Your Classmates.

Just because you’re taking your classes online doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy a sense of community with your fellow students and faculty. In fact, staying connected can help reduce stress and keep you motivated. You can create a virtual study group, by using Skype, Google Hangouts or other online chat programs. If you don’t have an integrated webcam, there are many low-cost devices you can purchase to connect to your computer or laptop. Outside of your blocked study time, video conferencing can also serve as an outlet to stay “social” even from a distance. Doing so can help you to feel connected and less isolated.

Reach Out to Professors and Advisors.

Remember that although you are learning remotely, you should still have access to your professors and student support advisors. Find out their office hours and schedule time to meet virtually if and when needed. Your teachers are there to help you succeed, especially in uncertain times like these. Although many faculty members are well versed in teaching online classes, some may not be. They too, may be facing obstacles as they adapt to a new way of teaching. Either way, your teachers and advisors are there to help you along the way. Don’t be shy about reaching out for support when you need it.

Utilize Online Resources.

Many schools, like DeVry University, are experienced in designing online courses and may already have a robust offering of online resources to assist you on your education journey. Resources can vary by school, however, some services to ask about include: online tutoring services, digital library services, online IT support, supplemental learning courses, online communities and career services to name a few.  Some colleges may even offer counseling services to students and their families. Take advantage of what your institution offers.

Keep Calm and Stay Positive.

It's important to keep in mind that your interim situation won't last forever. As you find your footing in a new online learning environment, keep calm, ask for help when needed, celebrate small victories, contribute to your online community and stay focused on your end-goal. You’ve got this.

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