First, welcome to online learning! Online learning is a great way to expand your knowledge and skills in an innovative, flexible environment that offers unique strengths and opportunities.
Online classes can be daunting for anyone, so it is important to know what to do to ensure your success.
This collection of tips and best practices for online learning from industry experts and learners is shared by our team of learning designers and learners. We share strategies to help students succeed on their learning journey.
- Make the most of your learning
- Keep your body and mind healthy
- Manage your time effectively and reduce distractions
- Make connections with your virtual learning community
- Conquer logistics
There is a lot of information available online about almost any topic. However, knowing is not the same as doing. Online learning is best if you are able to retain and apply your knowledge in new situations.
- Use the learning science principles of application, reflection, and practice to make your learning stick. It is important to practice new skills and knowledge, as well as apply it in other contexts. You should also reflect on the lessons you have learned and how they can be applied in your everyday life. You can practice, apply and reflect in a well-designed learning environment. However, you can also reinforce what you have learned by connecting it to your daily life and work.
- Video strategies: If you are recording video, take a few seconds to jot down a summary of what was said. Avoid taking notes when you are watching live video, especially if it is not available for later viewing. To keep your attention, pay close attention to what you hear and take part in the discussion. Ask a question or raise your virtual hand in the chat.
- Use video break-outs to gain new perspectives and review difficult material.
Your learning experience will be successful if you take care of yourself. A happy mind and body is the best foundation for learning.
- Advocate for your learning requirements: Find flexible ways to participate in class that suit you. This is especially important for learners who need special accommodations (e.g., a note-taker or an extended test time), but it is equally important for all learners.
- Schedule breaks: Get up, get outside, and schedule your distractions. Don’t forget about moving. There are many apps that can help you stay on track and distract you from distractions. They also remind you to take breaks and get up.
- Keep healthy habits. Your brain needs to be active and rest. Get enough sleep, stay hydrated, exercise, and eat well.
Flexibility is one of the greatest benefits of online learning. However, too much freedom can lead to new challenges. You can organize and optimize your time so that you can learn the most and keep your learning on track.
Keep track of deadlines: Add important due dates to your calendar to make sure you don’t miss any deadlines.
Reduce distractions: Try to minimize distractions in both your digital and physical environments. You can close any web browser window that is not relevant to your learning.
You don’t have to set aside four hours a day for learning. Online learning is modular and flexible. It may take you 15 minutes to view a video lecture and then write a three-sentence reflection. Other learning activities may take longer. Plan ahead and make time for learning, just as you would exercise or spend time with friends.
Community and Social Learning
Online learning offers connections to world-class professors as well as a global network of like-minded classmates. These rich learning communities can be connected through forums and networking with other peers.
- Keep your instructor updated: Let your instructor know if you have any questions or need assistance.
- Meet and interact virtually with your peers in learning: You’re not the only one! You can introduce yourself, respond to the posts of your peers, and answer the questions posted by the instructor through the discussion forums.
- Create social networks groups: You can create forums and a separate space like a Facebook group, or Whatsapp chat for your fellow students. This will allow them to share their interests and help each other.
- Make virtual study groups: Connect with your peers and learn from them in small study groups. This is possible with video chat apps.
- Respect is expected and given. Your peers are just like you. Do your part to create a supportive, respectful community.
Logistics is the last thing to mention. It can be a great way to reap the benefits of your learning experience.
- You can make relevant information easy to find: Make sure you have all the contact numbers, emails addresses and support links for your institution together so that you don’t have go searching for them. How do you get in touch with them? What department should you contact if you have technical problems?
- Get your tech ready: If you are required to use video conferencing software in the course, download it and test it before the live lecture. You must have access to the account details and access information required for assignments uploaded to cloud services (e.g. Google Drive, Dropbox) before the deadline.
- Reduce your dependence on WiFi. If you can, use an Ethernet cable to download course materials offline. Some online courses can be used on mobile devices, while others are not. Plan for Internet access.
- Always save your work. Save it locally on your computer, and/or in the cloud so you can quickly access it. To submit your assignment, you can draft your essays in word processing software or by email. Then copy and paste the work into your course LMS (learning management systems).