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8 Tips for Succeeding in Your Online Classes

[Last updated: Monday, March 16, 2020, 1:15pm CDT]

While the online classroom shares many similarities with the face-to-face classroom, success in online education requires certain skills and knowledge that any dedicated student can learn. Read on for 8 tips for successful online learning.

  • 1. Practice Effective & Consistent Online Communication

    In the absence of nonverbal communication, effective online communication requires clear communication and due to the asynchronous nature of most online communication, it also requires deliberate follow-up. Fortunately, Canvas offers tools and features that can help. First, ensure that your notification settings match your communication preferences. We recommend making sure that announcements are sent to an email address that you regularly check. Next, download the Canvas app and enable notifications so you can quickly check announcements, updates, and grades on your mobile device. Finally, keep in mind the differences between face-to-face and online communication.

  • 2. Manage Your Time Intentionally

    Online classes require strong time management skills. You will need to ensure that you regularly sign in to Canvas for class updates. We recommend making it a part of a daily and weekly routine to log in and check for the latest announcements and updates. Good Colleges recommends treating studying like a job, making a study plan, and blocking out study time in your schedule. Consider using a time management app or similar tool to help you stick to your study schedule.

  • 3. Know Your Tech

    Most instructors are sympathetic to technology difficulties with online courses, but it is your responsibility as an online student to follow correct procedures for reporting technical difficulties. Take the following steps to ensure you are familiar with your technology:

    • Confirm that your computer(s) meet the minimum technical requirements for using the university learning management system: Canvas technical requirements.
    • Know the contact information for the University Information Technology Student Helpdesk (UIT). UIT is a student’s first point of contact for any technical difficulties with UNT information technology. UIT provides assistance via telephone, email, and walk-ins. After contacting UIT, email your instructor to let them know you are experiencing technical difficulties and include the UIT service ticket number in your email.
    • Bookmark the online student guides for the university learning management system: Canvas Student Guide and Canvas: Getting Started as a Student. You can use these like any search engine to find solutions to specific questions and problems.
  • 4. Always Have a Back-Up Plan

    After knowing your tech, you need to ensure you have a back-up plan in the event of an internet outage or other digital disruption. In preparation for submitting assignments and taking exams, we recommend the following:

    • Make sure you have a secure internet connection when submitting assignments and taking online exams.
    • Have the UIT Helpdesk’s phone number on hand in the event of an internet outage. For example, stored on your mobile device or written on a sticky note near your computer.
    • Know how to take a screenshot of your computer screen. Screenshots provide evidence in the event of technical difficulties and/or internet outages. You can capture notifications and messages, as well as time and date stamps on your computer with screenshots.
    • Save copies of all of your assignments in your assigned course folder on your computer or cloud-based system.
  • 5. Get Organized

    The Canvas dashboard includes a “global view” of all of your classes where you can see a to-do list and a calendar. We recommend printing out the calendar and placing it somewhere you regularly see for a visual reminder for upcoming assignments and other events Second, we also recommend creating a folder system on your computer or cloud-based system. Dedicate a folder to each class and save all your assignments for that class in the corresponding folder. Use file names that will be clear to you. If you have to email a file to your instructor, include your course ID and last name in the file name. Example: grimaldi_COMM1010_speechoutline.doc

  • 6. Know & Use Your Resources

    UNT offers a variety of resources to online students. The Learning Centers offers online tutoring, academic coaching, and virtual workshops, and the Writing Center offers online tutoring, as well. If you need assistance from a UNT department, don’t be afraid to request a virtual meeting. We are here to meet the needs of our students!

  • 7. Create a Study Space

    Without the structure of a face-to-face environment and the presence of others, you may experience new challenges to studying. Establish a space for yourself that eliminates distractions and limits social media. There are a variety of apps that minimize distractions by limiting your access to certain tempting websites.

  • 8. Maintain Social Contacts

    Seek out your fellow students in order to avoid the social isolation that can happen in the online classroom. Create study groups and find alternative ways to meet up online such as through Zoom, Google Hangouts, or similar tools. Approach class discussion boards as not just a way to demonstrate learning to your instructor(s), but also as a way to connect with, learn from, and network with your peers.