8 Tips To Succeed With An Online Class
Whether you are feeling unsure about taking an online class or would like to improve your current experience.
Making the decision to enroll in an online class for the first time can be a big step. Online learning, while becoming more and more common and accessible, can be tricky to navigate when we are not prepared properly or have the wrong expectations. Set yourself up for success in your online class with these 8 tips!
1. Establish a designated study space
Set up a comfortable area for your online class, both during the class itself and anytime you need to study. Keep textbooks, workbooks, pencils and paper nearby so you don’t have to go searching in the middle of class. Make sure it is in a space that is quiet and free from distraction. If necessary, put your phone away or set it on don’t disturb/airplane mode to avoid any interruption. Also consider investing in good headphones with a microphone so that your attention will be focused during class and to facilitate communication with your teacher.
2. Ensure your technology is working and up to date
First of all, an online class will require steady access to a reliable computer and Internet connection. Be sure that computers/laptops/tablets are charged and ready to use. Turn on your device at least a few minutes before class – there is nothing more frustrating than having that 10-minute system update right when class is about to start! Also connect the webcam and microphone, and test them before class to make sure they work. Ideally, you will want your webcam to be clean and to show you in good lighting with a neutral background.
3. Dress as if you are going to an in-person class
It can be tempting to stay in your pajamas for an early morning class or wear your super laid back outfit for a midday class. However, you will be able to focus better if you put on clothes that will set your mind and brain into learning mode, similar to what we hear about dressing appropriately when working from home. Try to find a good compromise between comfort and rigor. That being said, if you would normally go to an in-person class in your pajamas or joggers, that’s a different story! :)
4. Make sure your basic needs are fulfilled
This is a no-brainer when we take in-person classes that involve leaving our home and commuting, but easy to overlook with virtual learning: your class time should be for learning only, therefore there is usually no bathroom or snack break during class, especially if you are taking a one-on-one class. Give yourself enough time before class to take care of those needs so that you can stay focused during class.
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5. Establish a routine
Contrary to an in-person class that takes place away from your home and implies commuting, there is no physical transition with online learning apart from turning on a computer or putting on headphones (which could already be on). Because of that, it can be difficult to dive right into the class as our brain and mind haven’t been able to adjust to the switch. To help with this, it is important to build mental associations that will signal to your brain that class is about to start, similar to what we do for our bedtime routine for instance. Examples include: dedicate some time before class to review the previous lessons(s), have a bathroom/snack break, exercise to allow yourself physical and mental relief (this is especially helpful if you are not used to sitting down at a computer for a long time, or if you already do that the whole day!).
6. Communicate with your teacher
Be sure to regularly check in with your teacher on your progress with the class, and don’t be afraid to let them know what challenges or concerns you might have about your learning. Teachers often appreciate the feedback because it helps them better tailor the class to your needs.
7. Develop your self-motivation
Being able to persevere and not give up when things get hard will be key to your online class success. Discipline and self-motivation are like muscles – if you don’t work them out enough they will lose strength, but if you activate them regularly, they will make you strive through your learning challenges. Before you enroll in a class, it is essential for you to be clear on your goals – your “why” – and then to do your planning based on your schedule and other life responsibilities. Whenever you struggle, go back to your goals for the class: sometimes all we need is a reminder of why we do what we do.
8. Pair up with a study buddy
For some of us, taking an online class is too overwhelming to take up on our own. If that is your case, try to find someone who already is or is considering taking an online class as well – and it doesn’t have to be the same class. It can really help to feel like you are not alone in this. If you can’t find anyone to take a class at the same time as you are, then ask your best friend or a family member to check up on and your progress in the class, and to cheer you up when you feel at a stall in your learning. This will also help you feel accountable for the class and study time, which sometimes is all we need to carry on.
There are so many opportunities now to learn online, to enroll in a class that wouldn’t be available in our area and acquire knowledge that we are really passionate about.