Distance learning has become an essential component of education. Many students who previously attended traditional classroom-based programs are now taking some or all of their courses online. Nevertheless, students who have spent years refining themselves in conventional classroom settings are concerned about making a switch to this mode of instruction. So, how do you prepare to excel in an online classroom? We have asked teachers and students to share steps they took and habits they’ve developed to be successful in virtual or online classrooms.

Six best practises for students to be successful in online classes

Do you want to excel in your studies but are new to online education? Consider the following strategies employed by successful online students to help you achieve your academic goals.

1) Create an efficient working environment

Your computer is a conduit that connects you to the rest of the world. Though this allows you to take an online class, it’s also possible that you’ll waste three hours scrolling through social media or looking up funny dog videos. The way you set up your virtual learning environment will significantly impact your ability to focus on your studies within a specific time frame.

“I believe you can improve your online learning experience outside of the computer more effectively than within it,” says Alex Beene, an online educator. “I would recommend finding a single location where you can complete all of your online coursework throughout the semester. It could be a room in your apartment or house or a quiet public place with Wi-Fi, such as a park or library.”

Take your time and then select a final appropriate location to set yourself up for success in online classes. Remove potential distractions as much as possible and create a space where you can consistently hunker down for deeper concentration. 

Research studies found that students who use this strategy can complete their tasks more comfortably and quickly than those who do not.

2) Have a backup plan in place

In a traditional classroom setting, forgetting your pen or notebook in a class isn’t great. But chances are pretty high that someone will help you with a spare. A faulty internet connection, a computer virus, or a pet who chews on your laptop’s charger can all be significant hindrances during an online class. While technical support can help resolve many of these issues, it’s always an excellent idea to have an emergency backup plan for misfortunes that occur during critical times.

“Technical issues are unavoidable,” says Aaron Simmons, CEO of Prep Test Genie. “Even if you are unable to connect to the internet, you must get your work done in a given time frame”. 

Note: Take steps to resolve technical issues as you progress through your course. If possible, save or download class notes for future reference. Also, keep a hard copy of contact details for professors and helpdesks, and consider who you can turn to for temporary internet and computer access in an emergency.

3) Make a concerted effort to ask questions & stay involved 

In online classes, you may feel as if there is a connection barrier between you and your professor. But don’t let that get in the way of your education. Make an effort to be a diligent and active student in your online courses.

Don’t do it on the spur of the moment and hope that what you turn in meets your instructor’s expectations”, suggests online educator Amanda Page. “While students may be hesitant to discuss their concerns with professors, doing so can help them build professional connections’. When in doubt, inquire. And make it a habit. “Asking for confirmation is a useful skill to have in online classes as well as in everyday life.” 

It’s a good habit to keep the lines of communication open. If you’re having difficulty understanding a topic based on the resources provided, your professor can explain it differently to help it sink in. Seek assistance from your professors if you believe your assignment instructions are ambiguous or difficult to understand. Doing this will benefit you in the mid-term and can help improve the overall class experience—feedback drives changes and adjustments.

4) Make a clear line between social time and school time

You might have developed the habit of allocating specific time each week to work on online class assignments and projects. Inform your family and friends about these exact times to avoid distractions and stay focused on your routine. 

“Make time for both online study and family time,” says Dr. Linda K. Kimble, a former school superintendent. “Your family needs to know when you will be concentrating on your studies and when you will be free to spend time with them”. Attempting to do both simultaneously will lead to frustration for you and your family members. Making appointments with your family to spend quality time together may appear strange at first, but it will pay off in terms of productivity.

This can be a significant adjustment if you tend to do things at the right moment. But setting aside a specific time on the weekly timetable for your work can be very beneficial. Make time for yourself every day— if you have fewer classes for the day, the extra free time may feel like a treat.

5) Plan ahead of time

This practice represents the students’ ability to balance their schoolwork and social life. One of the most crucial skills to develop as an online student is time management. Developing constant time management strategies will help you stay on top of your academic tasks and avoid becoming overwhelmed by assignments.

Time management is a highly valued skill that online students need in virtual classrooms, says Karen Southall Watts, an online educator. Southall Watts recommends creating a master schedule, figuring out the best time of the day to address the challenging tasks, and probably employing a work-break strategy such as the Pomodoro Technique for extended coursework sessions. She also suggests assessing the upcoming workload as quickly as possible so that you aren’t scrambling to complete the coursework that will take up an entire week.

“I advise students to thoroughly review all course materials as soon as they become available,” Southall Watts says. “They can then figure out how to efficiently break down the coursework for the allotted time.”

6) Examine your study habits

One of the most effective ways to develop good study habits is to pay close attention to strategies that work best for you as a student. For example, materials that a classmate finds helpful may not be the best advice for your specific educational needs. If you find a strategy that works best for you, you can use it in your online classes.

“Everyone has unique habits and different levels of self-control,” explains Crosby Caitlin, a music student at Kansas University. “Analyze what makes it difficult for you to concentrate by asking questions like: Is background music helpful or harmful? Is it necessary to limit the number of snacks or water breaks I take? “What aspects of my surroundings are stressful?” 

Keep a track record of how things are progressing. And if a particular method isn’t working for you, try a different one. Remember that developing an effective study schedule may require a little experimentation with your study and work habits. 

Do you want to earn your degree online?

Online education allows pupils to study despite physical constraints such as distance or scheduling conflicts. Although it may take some time to adjust to new settings, at the end of the day, the same consistency and hard work that allows you to excel in traditional classrooms will help you earn an online degree. Check out CollegeDegree.Education to explore your options for online degree programs.