Getting Started with Online Classes

Icon picture of a student at a desk The first step to mastering online classes is to take some time to set up your workspace. You might want to consider doing the following:

  • Find a space where you feel productive and can focus on work. Your couch is comfortable, but it is easy to get distracted there. Think about the kinds of spaces you are used to feeling productive (libraries, coffee shops, study rooms, etc). How can you recreate the sensory experience (sounds, smells, lighting) of those places?
  • Ideally, this space should be free from distractions, have reliable access to the internet and a power outlet.
  • Associate this space with schoolwork, so you can separate the other parts of your life from your classes. It’s easy to get burned out when everything blends together. Lighting a candle or creating another ritual can help mark school time as different from relaxation time.

The next step is to become familiar with the software you’ll be using. This includies getting comfortable with your video conferencing platform (Zoom, WebEx, Google Meet, etc…). The UNC System developed a technology guide to online learning. It’s a great place to start. You may also want to check out these UNC Charlotte Technology Resources courtesy of the Distance Education:

Consider your mindset and motivation.

  • These are far from ideal times, but regardless of your circumstances try to create at least a mental space for schoolwork that is separate from the other demands on your time.
  • Practice curiosity. Research shows students who believe their school work is interesting and important are cognitively engaged in trying to understand the material, so try to find a connection to the material you are learning.
  • If you like studying in groups, find ways to virtually connect to your peers through group chats, video meetings, or discussion boards.
  • Schedule time for self-care.

Enter Icon Log on to synchronous lectures from a stationary location.

It can be tempting to multitask while listening to a lecture, but our brains can’t do two cognitive tasks at once so you won’t get as much out of the experience. You also won’t be able to participate in discussions and activities as easily. In particular, attending class while driving is unsafe.


10 Tips Critical for Online Learning Success by ODU Online

7 Tips for Success when Taking Online Courses by Jason Mock from Illinois Online

8 Strategies for Getting the Most Out of an Online Class from Northeastern University Graduate Programs

4 Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Intrinsic Motivation