10 Tips to ACE Your Online Classes

The summer has rolled around and although it may be summer vacations for some, for students many take summer courses. There really is no rest for the wicked! Now taking summer courses is not the same as being in class and they require different approaches. Classes are often condensed into 6 weeks, which needs you to be more discipline and a study smarter (not harder) mentality.

I have been guilty of falling behind in online courses because they aren’t as structured and trust me…catching up is not fun. So put together this post to help students like myself ACE their online courses with a few tips and tricks to studying successfully!

I recently posted 6 Ways to Prepare for Online Courses  and it was a really popular post, so if you want to check out the first post like this; just click the link.

Create A Designated Environment To Take The Course

Don’t do all your work on your bed or at the kitchen table if you know you will get distracted. I try to do all my work at a desk or an area where I can avoid distraction. Remember to keep this area clean and organized so that it will motivate you to do the work. I clean my desk everyday after using it so that the next day I don’t feel overwhelmed. Sometimes, I light candles and put on music when you study in order to create a focus friendly atmosphere.

Keep Track of The Deadlines

 It is important to write down all the due dates, timelines, assignments and quizzes in a calendar, on your phone or in a notebook. I also write the timelines of when I think i could start or get them done, that way I have structured out a rough idea of how much time I need to dedicate to everything.

Learn the Online System

Each school has a different system of online course work (and they are not all user friendly) so take the time to learn and explore all the tabs, the online test portal, the grades sheets and discussion groups. It is also really important that you are familiar with how to access the lecture and upload assignments. Your professor may want you to access content on a different webpage, download only, or on youtube. Taking the time to can save you the head ache in the future 

Stay Up To Date With Your Emails

Unlike an in person class, you won’t have a weekly in person reminder that something is due or has been changed so the only way you will communicate with your instructor is via email or discussion board. Try to check your emails everyday, I schedule to check on it right when I wake up and it helps create a routine.

Email Your Professor

 Just because you are not physically in class doesn’t mean you can’t meet with profs. Sending an email if you are unclear about the goal, due date, or concept is important and I encourage it. It’s your learning and your grade so be involved! The best way to do that is build a relationship with the professor, even if it is just over email.

Set Up Schedule 

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Here is my weekly set up regarding school and study time. I block these out in order to create routine so that I can stay on top of content and not fall behind. I try my best to do quizzes and discussion groups after the final lecture because the info is fresh in my brain. However, I have been guilty of being lazy after class, so I schedule another time before the due date to anticipate my procrastination. If you want to know how and why I block my weeks in google calendar, let me know and I will do a post about it. 

Read The Readings

After taking a few online classes, I have learned the hard way that a lot of the things you are tested on are in your readings, a lot more compared to in person classes. This is because your professors usually cut down their videotaped lecture time and have a lack of in person discussion, thus they make up for that content in readings. Now, every class is different so make sure you ask around from those who have previously taken the course. Most online summer courses are compacted into just 6 weeks so the content that is not covered in class will be in your readings.

Create a Summary and Questions After Class or Readings

This is a tip that I found helped my revision for exams. Having pre-written questions and review of important topics allowed me to remember and revisit the most important concepts. Sometimes I would go back and re-watch the lecture if I missed something

Pause Your Lectures To Take Notes

This is a luxury you don’t get when you’re in person and scrambling to get all the talking points down. This has to be my favourite part of online courses! I get to make the most detailed notes and revisit the lectures if something is unclear. I usually pause every 10 minutes just to make sure I did not miss anything and that my notes are clear. I recommend taking advantage of your pause button. 

Anticipate The Examination Style

You may think that online exams are easier but sometimes the testing style is different than what the traditional setup is. There will most likely be anti-cheating software, more multiple choice than essay or it could be a take home exam. Structure you study habits based on the exam style. If it is multiple choice, try content heavy revision, or if it is a take home essay, then application based questions are important to have.

Aceing your course is definitely possible and I hope these tips help you navigate online learning in order for you to be successful.

~Ciao, Donatella

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