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10 Tips for Taking Online Classes

COVID-19 has forced many students to pursue online high school and college classes to remain safe at home. For most, 2020 is the first year that students have taken classes online. Education Data states that in April of 2020, 98% of institutions had moved the majority of their classes to be online.

The ability to stay focused during an online lecture and manage your time as a student who attends class and completes homework, requires a level of discipline. This is a challenging time for everyone to stay productive, so here are 10 great tips to ace your online classes.

Log in to your online class at least 5 minutes early

Joining your class video chat just a few minutes early, allows you to prepare yourself for lecture. As we have all seen on viral videos and entertaining commercials to reflect the time we live in, some people still do not know that there is a mute button.

Whether you are using Zoom, Google Meet, goToMeeting, or Microsoft Team, every platform has the ability to turn on/off your camera and audio. By showing up early, you can adjust your settings to what you need. Our CEO, Amara’s, favorite setting is deselecting the checkbox to always show your camera when you join a Zoom call.

Bonus Tip: On Zoom you can pin someone’s screen to only view them if too many people are speaking.

How to diffuse technical issues

The pandemic has made the world rely heavily on technology to continue our day-to-day work. Unfortunately, it is not that reliable and you may experience a great deal of issues with the internet, hardware, software, etc.

Technical complications that prevent you from turning in work and not being able to attend class because of a missing or broken link, can be resolved with this three step process.

  1. Contact the students in your class, by emailing the classlist from your course dashboard to ask for assistance.

  2. Email your teacher

  3. Attempt to contact your teacher through other avenues by adding a post in the Ask Your Instructor discussion, call or text if a phone number was included in the syllabus, or include a note in the assignment submission box.

Bonus Tip: Always include screenshots of the problems you are experiencing so others can see from your perspective. You can take screenshots of your screen by using Snip and Sketch or selecting the PrtScr button on your keyboard.

Use multiple devices to for maximum productivity

Amara, shared on her Instagram the power of including two devices in her online college workspace.

She installed Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and her course dashboard on her phone so she can attend class. Then, she freed up space on her computer to be able to take notes, follow code exercises and complete assignments. To address the issue of her screen being too small to view her professor’s screen, she changed the orientation to horizontal and uses an affordable tripod to hold it in a comfortable position.

Bonus Tip: If you are using Zoom on a cellphone or a table, double click the screen to zoom in to the size you need.

This is a perfect example of what you could do to allow you to multitask. Consider using another tablet or laptop, instead of your cell phone.

How to effectively work in groups

Group assignments are definitely an adjustment for every student to collaborate and complete work virtually. Your group can use free applications, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, etc. to message back and forth, schedule video calls, share your screen, and record sessions for members who cannot attend. You can also create documents in those applications for everyone to work on simultaneously.

Find a virtual study buddy

One of the most difficult situations that students faced transitioning to online classes in March of 2020 was not being able to connect with friends or manage interactions outside of school.

It is helpful to schedule video calls to continue hanging out with friends and create study groups. If you can find another student to work with in all of your classes, you can help each other when you have questions that a professor cannot answer at that exact moment.

Key resources to keep track of your homework

During times where you have to keep track of important deadlines, it is crucial to use a planner. Whether it is digital or a paper planner, use the monthly calendar to write the very important days and use the daily planner to include classes you need to attend, homework you are going to complete that day, etc.

A great tool to record every assignment that does or does not have a set due date is Asana. It is a free tool that you can organize by class and filter based on what is due today, tomorrow, or at the end of the semester.

Things you should know about digital textbooks

If you have digital textbooks for some if not all of your classes this school year, there are a few features that can make you consider purchasing digital textbooks all the time.

Ctrl + f or Command + f is a hidden keyboard shortcut to be able to find words or phrases on a page. Some textbooks will have a search bar where you can do the same as if will look through the book. Textbooks through MindTap or Cengage provide the option to highlight text as you skim through your reading. Also, most online books contain a page with need to know words in the front of the chapter, make sure to include those in your notes.

Tips for digital note-taking

If your teacher uploads their presentation slides before class starts, you don’t have to make separate notes. If the slides were made in PowerPoint, just add a new slide where the lecture is taking place and add your notes. If it is a .pdf file and you have a pen, you can make notes directly on the slides.

Bonus Tip: If your professor is showing something important on his screen that you want to add in your notes, take a screenshot and insert it as a picture.

Find a music playlist to help you focus

Here is a fun online tip that can help you knock out school work while you are at home. Listening to instrumental music allows you to be able to read, write, and think without distractions like the Mozart Effect.

Surprisingly, you can find instrumental music for just about every genre, like Instrumental hip-hop, classical music, Japanese classical.

Use your school’s virtual services

If you find that you are struggling with your classes, don’t hesitate to reach out to your professor during their online office hours, or seek help from the online tutoring center at your school.

Keep in mind that you should still attend virtual conferences and career fairs to continue networking and learning.

Online classes are a big adjustment for everyone, so hopefully, these 10 foolproof tactics will help you navigate the virtual world for as long as students are attending Zoom University.

Comment down below what your favorite playlist is to listen to while you are doing homework.


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