Online learning has its obvious advantages: learning at your own pace, choosing a learning environment best suited for you, and developing lifelong skills, like time management and being proactive. But sometimes, it can also be a little bit intimidating, especially to students who have yet to try it. Here are some tips on how to be successful in your online courses.

Plan ahead

Create a schedule that includes important deadlines and stick to it! Dr. Jennifer Bachner from Johns Hopkins University suggests allocating chunks of time for each course. Allocating time ensures that you have sufficient time for watching lectures, completing coursework, and reviewing for exams. Here are some tips to manage your time properly.

Practice makes perfect

Usually, if you schedule specific times of the day and designate it as your “class” – much like you would if you were attending classes on-campus – you will get into a routine. If you just “fit it in” during your day, chances are that there will never be any time to finish viewing a three-hour lecture. Pay attention to what works for you and repeat this routine each time you study. If it works and you are learning, make it a habit.

Familiarize yourself with cuLearn

Familiarizing yourself with the course content and resources helps you to plan in advance and know what you need for the course. Here are some tips and tricks for getting the most out of cuLearn.

Communication is key

Just because you are not seeing your professors and TAs in a traditional classroom does not mean you should refrain from communicating with them. Be sure to reach out to your professors and TAs if you have course-related questions or concerns. Before you do, read our guidelines for emailing your professor or TA. Consider also connecting with fellow students by contributing to online discussion boards on cuLearn. Actively discussing material is a great way to expand on it, remember it and get new perspectives. Just be sure to follow basic “netiquette” when you do.

Location! Location! Location!

A consistent study space is ideal. Treat your study space like a regular classroom. That means no chatting with friends and family or watching Netflix while watching lectures or studying. Avoid eating or using your phone if possible. We know, it can be difficult, so if you find yourself getting distracted, try these tools to cut out disruptions.

To multitask or not to multitask?

Simply put, multitasking means doing multiple things at the same time or rapidly switching between tasks.

Multitasking is counterproductive in many cognitive tasks. This article explains that switching between tasks comes at the cost of wasted time and increased error.

On another hand, some forms of multitasking, such as doodling while listening to a “boring” lecture, can be beneficial to staying alert, according this article by Dr. Jim Davies of the Institute of Cognitive Science. On this episode of Minding the Brain, Dr. Kim Hellemans and Dr. Jim Davies discuss scientific evidence surrounding multitasking.

Do not neglect self-care

Eat healthily, get enough sleep, maintain a hobby, and connect with friends, family, a pet, nature or whatever pleases you most. Do not neglect these important things. You need a well-functioning you to succeed. Need support in any of these areas? Contact Health and Counselling Services. Their resource library has plenty to offer. Be sure to check it out.