Quick Tips For New Online Learners


Monday, July 27, 2020

Are you new to online learning? Check out these quick tips to get a good head start on your exciting online education experience.



Online education provides a unique, flexible environment where students can focus on their own strengths and work with their own schedules. If you are new to online learning, be sure to check out the quick tips we offer in this article.


Tip #1: Self Care

Self-care is an absolute must for any learning experience. A health mind and body is necessary for successful online learning.

Remember to:

  • Communicate any learning needs you may have. Ask for ways to participate in class that will work for you. Learners who require specific accommodations, such as a note taker or extended test time, will want to communicate this with their online professors.
  • Schedule regular breaks. Make sure to get up and walk around. Schedule breaks that allow you to physically move as well as distract yourself a little bit. There are apps that exist to help keep you on task and turn off distractions. They can also help remind you when you need to get up and take a break.
  • Maintain healthy habits. Get sleep, exercise, stay hydrated, go outside, eat well. Doing so will help you stay healthy and happy which will increase your success in an online learning program.


Tip #2: Manage Your Time

Time management can be one of the biggest challenges in an online learning program. Online learning programs require that students be quite independent when it comes to completing their online college program. Click here to learn about the top time management mistakes that online learners make.

  • Set time aside for learning. Your online learning does not have to be completed in four-hour blocks, three days a week. Online learning is modular on purpose so that students can complete their work based on their flexible schedule.
  • Track deadlines. Add any important due dates to a calendar so you do not miss any important deadlines.
  • Minimize distractions. Minimize distractions in your physical and digital environment by closing web browser windows that are not relevant to your learning.


Tip #3: Community and Social Learning

Online learning and online college programs give you the chance to make connections to world-class professors and a global community of peers. You can find ways to connect with these rich learning communities by participating in forums and networking with your peers.

  • Keep your online instructor informed. Ask your instructor for help if and when you need it. Let them know if you are ill, unable to log on, etc.
  • Virtually meet and interact with your online classmates. Remember that you are not alone! Remember to introduce yourself, answer questions posted by the instructor in the discussion forums and respond to your peers’ posts.
  • Create a social networking group. In addition to the forums, create a distinct space such as a Facebook group or a WhatsApp chat group where you and your classmates can connect, share interests and support each other.
  • Create virtual study groups. Online study groups can keep the line open and help people find ways to connect with their online peers. Video chat apps are another great way to do this.
  • Give and expect respect. Respect is important in all online learning sessions. While you may be interacting with your professors and peers through a screen, do not let yourself forget that there are real people on the other end of the line.


Tip #4: Learning Strategies

Develop new knowledge and skills in a way that helps you retain, apply and adapt to new contexts. Remember that knowing is different than doing.

  • Make your learning stick. Use established learning science principles of practice, application and reflection. Practice  your new skills, apply your knowledge in different contexts, and reflect on what you have learned.
  • Video strategies. Anytime you watch a recorded video, pause and write a brief summary of what you have heard in notes every few minutes. If the video is live, avoid taking too many notes. Use key phrases and key words rather than trying to write down every single word shared. Pay attention to what you are hearing and participate in the discussion to stay focused.
  • Take advantage of video break-out groups. If these are offered, make sure you take advantage of them so that you can discuss perspectives or review challenging material as a group.


Tip #5: Logistics

Nail the details of your online learning experience down and reap the rewards. 

  • Make any relevant information easily accessible. Collect phone numbers, email addresses and any support links for your institution in one place. Who are your online class TAs? How can you contact them? Who can you contact if you have technical issues?
  • Gather tech. If the online course requires video conferencing software, make sure you download the app and test it before a live lecture. If assignments are uploaded to some kind of cloud service such as Google Drive or Dropbox, make sure to have the required accounts so you can access them.
  • Try to minimize WiFi reliance. If possible, use an ethernet cable and download any materials to work offline.
  • Always save your work. Remember to save your work locally on your computer/laptop or in the cloud where you can easily access it.




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