• Jennifer Keller

10 Rules to Succeed in Online Classes

We hear from a lot of students that say that virtual learning is so different from the traditional classroom. In fact they say that navigating this new learning environment is so different that they don’t know how to be successful while doing it. So, we thought we would put together a guide to help students to just this.

  1. Get a planner and stick to it. The key to being successful in an online class is to keep yourself accountable. Write everything - EVERYTHING - down in your planner. Having a planner filled with quiz and test dates and assignment due dates is the only way to have everything you need to do all in one place. Your planner can be on your phone, on paper, or online. The important thing is to look at it every week and make a to-do list to make sure everything gets done.

  2. Attend all class meetings, even if you think they are a waste of time. Important updates are often given during class meetings that can get lost in the shuffle of emails and classroom postings/announcements.

  3. Read the class materials before watching or attending lectures. At least skim the material that the class lecture will cover so that you are familiar with terms or concepts. You do not have to understand everything you are reading at first. The idea is to get the words in your brain so when the teacher says them your brain thinks, “I’ve heard that word before,” and starts to pay attention during key parts of the lecture.

  4. Do all the homework. Repeat: do all the homework. Do not leave the ones you don’t understand blank – at least attempt to do them. Teachers cannot gauge where their students are at if they are not getting feedback. In an online environment, sometimes the only way to get feedback from students is via homework.

  5. Keep a running list of question to ask the teacher. Do this as you are reading so you don’t forget your questions later. When the teacher asks if there are any questions, ask them. You will not look dumb.  If you have that question, chances are very high at least one other student also has that exact question.

  6. Study like you would for a traditional class. Just because your class is taught remotely does not mean it will be easier or that the teacher will leave anything out of the lesson plans. If anything, this semester will have more challenges because you are expected to do a bigger part of the learning on your own.

  7. Look for online resources. There are great free online resources to go to if you get stuck on a concept or homework problem. Khan Academy has video tutorials for all grade levels in all subjects – even for college courses. You can also search YouTube for videos about the specific topic you are confused about. Crash Course is a great YouTube channel that has videos covering a lot of topics. There are a lot of others too.

  8. Learn how to annotate notes. If your teacher posts PowerPoint slides or some other form of notes, then annotating them is a great way to isolate what is important. We have a simple guide to help students get started annotating their notes here.

  9. Communicate with your teacher. If you do not understand something tell your teacher. If you have to miss class because of something, tell your teacher. If you have trouble finding an assignment or resource, tell your teacher.

  10. Find a study buddy. Find at least one other person in class that you can exchange phone numbers and/or emails with. The two of you can meet online over Zoom or Google Meet and study together. It is great to have more than one other person. Study groups are amazing.

Most of these rules apply to traditional classrooms too. This list is going to turn into a blog series, so look out for new going in depth about some of the rules as well as useful resources that can help along the way.

Here is a condensed version of these rules. Enjoy!

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