5 Tips for Online Learning

Taliah Richards

Houston Community College recently released its learning plans for the Fall 2020 semester. The NextLearning options include online anytime, online at a scheduled class time, flex campus (you can either attend class on campus or log in online at the specified time of the class), and lab-based courses on campus.  

What that means for many students is online classes will be a big part of learning for at least the remainder of the year. 

Online learning is quite different from in-person learning. Some students say it’s more difficult to stay on task and they don’t learn as well with online classes.

As someone who has taken most of my classes at HCC online, I’d like to share some tips that have helped me. Hopefully, they will allow you to have a better experience with online learning.

Make a study schedule. In one of my first online classes, all assignments were due at the end of the semester. I procrastinated big time. Near the due date, I lost tons of sleep and stressed myself out trying to get everything completed on time. Don’t be like me. It’s better to create a schedule for all your classes and then have a routine for when you study and complete classwork. For instance, you might do biology and philosophy work on Mondays and Wednesdays and history and algebra assignments on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Manage your time. After that first semester, I picked up some time-management tips. At the beginning of the semester, I write down all assignments, required readings, discussion posts and projects for each class, along with the due dates. I check the list at the beginning of the week so I know which tasks I need to tend to that week. In addition to managing my time spent on school activities, I make sure to take breaks, take care of my household responsibilities, get enough sleep and have fun. Spending all your time focusing only on school is a quick way to lead to burnout. 

Limit distractions. If possible, choose a study time and area that is free of distractions. I know it can be difficult with most people staying at home and social distancing. If a library or coffee shop isn’t an option, you may have to get creative. There have been plenty of times in which I studied in my closet or garage because my family was too noisy. I also have no problem driving to the park and sitting in my vehicle while I complete assignments.

Treat it like an in-person class. It’s totally fine to do your online classwork in your pajamas. Outside of your attire though, treat your online classes like you would if you were face-to-face with your professor and classmates. That means show up on time if the professor has scheduled a meeting through Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Do your part on any group projects. Also, be respectful of others. Don’t say anything by email or on a discussion board that could be deemed as rude or offensive.

Reach out for help. One complaint I’ve heard about online classes (and even had myself) is it feels like you’re teaching yourself. If you’re having trouble understanding something in your coursework or are unable to complete an assignment, reach out to your instructor. The professors at HCC want you to succeed. Also, take advantage of tutoring. HCC provides online tutoring and real-time tutoring through video conferencing.