How to Succeed as a Remote Learner

1. Confirm technical requirements: Online classes can benefit students with busy schedules, but only if they can access the materials. Explore four technology must haves for online students.

2. Connect with instructors early: While instructors are available to help throughout the courses, try to also find answers to class questions independently, if possible. CU Online is also here to help. Look for our contact info in the "Resources" module of this course. Consider six questions to ask an online instructor.

3. Accept that you’ll have to motivate yourself and take responsibility for your learning. It’s actually harder for some people to sit down at the computer on their own than to show up at a set time. Be sure you have enough time in your week for all course activities and try to schedule regular times online and for assignments. Evaluate the course requirements carefully before signing up.

4. Work on your writing skills. If you are not comfortable writing, you may want to defer taking online courses until you have had more experience with college-level writing.

5. Use critical thinking skills. Most online courses involve assignments requiring problem solving and critical thinking. It’s not as simple as watching video lectures and taking multiple-choice tests. You need to actively engage with the course material.

6. Take the initiative to ask questions and seek help. Remember, your instructor can’t see you to know if you’re confused or feeling frustrated understanding a lecture or reading. You must take the first step to communicate your questions.

7. Be patient. When you ask a question or seek help with an assignment, you have to wait for a reply from your instructor. You may need to continue with a reading or writing assignment before you receive a reply. If the instructor is online at scheduled times for direct contact, take advantage of those times for immediate feedback and answers.

8. Use any opportunity to interact with other students in the course. If you can interact with other students online, do it. Ask questions of other students and monitor their communications. If you know another person taking the same course, try to synchronize your schedules so that you can study together and talk over assignments. Students who feel they are part of a learning community always do better than those who feel isolated and on their own.

What it means to be “online”

If this is your first online course, there are a few things to be aware of:

  • It truly can take a little while to get used to “doing school” online! Be patient with yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your instructor is here to help you. There is also 24/7 Canvas support for technical issues should they arise.
  • Online learning requires self-discipline. You must be fairly self-directed! This is good, but can also be frustrating if it is new to you. Try your best not to fall behind, and stick with it.
  • Follow the assignment directions. If you don't understand what is being asked, get in touch with your instructor.

Tips for Success Online

If you find yourself falling behind or struggling to focus in your online class, try these tricks!

  • Find a Dedicated Time: It may help to think of your online course in the same way you view a typical face-to-face course. Block out days and times each week to work on this course. Block off the time in your calendar, and add assignments and reminders to your calendar as well.
  • Choose a Dedicated Space: During your selected time for work, find an environment that works best for you to be productive (office, library, quiet coffee shop, etc.)
  • Limit Distractions: When working on course material, put away your phone and "turn off" social media. Turn off the TV. Work alone in your chosen space, or use headphones to deter conversations.
  • Communication is key! Open and active communication with your instructor is key! Don't be afraid to reach out for clarification on confusing content or assignments.
  • Be an Active Team Member: Online teamwork can be both rewarding and challenging. Maintain open and active communication with team members, and remember that they, too, have busy schedules. Try to stay flexible, yet organized.

Time Management

Managing your online course load may be difficult, especially if you work, have various extracurricular activities, have a family, or any other obligations that keep you busy! There are many resources and tips online related to time management and it is important that you find an approach that works for you, your lifestyle, and your goals. Take inventory each semester, as life constantly changes which will affect the way you manage your time.

Laura Vanderkam gave a TED talk in 2016 about time management and priorities which is worth a watch!

Time Management for Online Students Handout

Now that you have watched the TED talk above, download the Time Management for Online Students document for tips and advice on how to maximize your time effectively.

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Strategies to Optimize Learning