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Online Learning

Online Learning during COVID-19

During the pandemic, you may have questions about how to adjust your learning and studying approaches to a completely online environment. We have included some suggestions and resources for getting started with online learning.

You can find additional strategies for learning online on these pages:

Managing Your Time

  • Pick a tool for managing your time (perhaps a paper agenda or an online calendar) and spend at least five minutes each day planning your schedule. Online courses usually are less structured than in-person classes, and you will need to spend time every day on getting organized and making a plan.
  • Check your Courselink sites and email daily for information from your professors as things change. Note all modified due dates on your calendar or agenda.  
  • Schedule specific times in the day to spend on each class. Set aside time to review your notes, complete your assignments and study for exams. You may want to schedule more time than it would usually take to complete tasks as you adjust to potential technical challenges.  
  • Distractions may be more common if you are working from home. Be sure to communicate to the people that you live with when you plan to study and when you plan to take breaks. You may be able to schedule breaks at the same time as your housemates so you won’t feel tempted to distract each other.  
  • Identify rewards that will help you keep motivated, and make sure you take breaks frequently. It can be challenging to stay focused when sitting for hours at your computer. See our webpage Making the Most of Breaks and Rewards for some suggestions.
  • Schedule time to check in with family and friends. It is important to stay connected to the people we care about to help reduce stress and support each other.  

For more information about time management see our Master Time Management Guide

Creating a Productive Study Space

  • Prepare your study space by having all your materials (pens, papers, textbooks, etc.) easily accessible. Make sure you have your charger handy and you are situated close to a power outlet. Sitting at a desk or table instead of on your couch or bed (if possible) will help you stay focused. 

  • Prepare your mind for studying online the same way you would for face-to-face classes. Dress the same way you would for an in-person class, put away your cell phone, turn off all notifications on your computer, and take a few mindful moments before you begin your classwork to get ready to focus.  

  • Share your class schedule with your housemates and family members. You can print out a copy to share or use post-it notes to let others know when you are in a class.  
    • If you can’t ensure a quiet space while you are attending your lectures, remember to mute your microphone so you don’t disturb others. You can turn it on if you need to ask or answer a question.  

This video includes helpful strategies for setting up a productive space for studying

Note-Taking during Live Lectures

  • Note-taking on a computer while in an online class can be challenging. You may want to consider taking hand-written notes while watching and listening to your lectures.  
    • If you have an extra monitor that you can hook up to your computer, or you are able to split your laptop screen, you should be able to view the lecture slides/video and take notes on your computer at the same time.  
  • The Cornell Method is one approach of taking notes that may help you summarize and organize your notes. You can read more about it on the Cornell Method Guide.  
  • Try using diagrams, charts, and concepts maps for taking notes instead of trying to write down everything that your professor says.  
  • Spend some time reviewing your notes right after your online class. The information will still be fresh in your head and you can add to your notes if there is anything you missed, come up with questions you still have, or create a lecture summary.  

Other Strategies to Help with Online Learning

Read our Study Effectively series for information on reading textbooks, improving concentration, managing distractions, and incorporating active study techniques to enhance your learning.

Helpful Links from other Universities: 

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