Online Learning Tips

Young man sitting at laptop with headphones and writing on a paper
July 27, 2020

Whether you live on campus, commute, or learn from home this semester, you are likely enrolled in some online courses. While most college and high school students have engaged in online learning, these tips and reminders will help you get the most out of your courses this fall.

Make a schedule and stick to it.

Many online classes will meet at specific times this semester (just like traditional classes), there are some that will be delivered asynchronously, which means you can “attend” class when you choose. Asynchronous classes still have due dates and deadlines to meet, so choose a time each day to dedicate to the class—and do not wait until the last minute.

Record all important dates from your classes in an online calendar and set up alarms to give you ample time to complete assignments. If you collaborate on projects with other students, include them in your calendar so that they receive similar alarms. Effective time management is essential for online learning.

Take good notes.

While you will not be physically in a classroom for online courses, many traditional classroom practices still apply, and taking good notes is one of them. If your laptop is being used exclusively for viewing courses, keep a paper notebook for each course so that you can take notes while you learn. If a class is recorded and you are unsure of a certain concept or lesson, be sure to view it a second or third time until you master the content.

Collaborate with classmates.

Study groups have always been outstanding resources for scholars, but often times they have been difficult to arrange. With the advent of online learning and various videoconferencing tools, it has never been easier to meet with classmates to study and collaborate on projects and research.

Location, location, location.

If possible, find a comfortable place where you can focus on your class without any outside distractions. In addition, be sure to leave yourself room to take notes on the material you learn.


Whether you live on campus or study from home, a good set of headphones can help you focus on your classes (without distracting your roommate or family). Noise-canceling headphones have the added benefit of eliminating most unwanted outside noises, too.

Go Big (Screen).

If you get tired of staring at the small screen of your computer, many laptops have an HDMI port that allows you to directly connect to a large-screen TV. This allows you to view your online courses from more than an arm’s length and reduce eye strain from reading small print in certain courses. You can also use your TV as a second monitor, which will allow you to use one screen to view the lesson and the second to take notes.   

Engage with your professors.

Online learning works best when there is dynamic interactivity between students and their professor. If you have a question, ask it. If you have a comment or concern—speak up!

Familiarize yourself with technology.

If you are using the technology associated with a course for the first time, make yourself accustomed to it before classes begin. Reach out to your professor if something is confusing or look for instructional videos or tutorials online. A little preparation up front gives you confidence and prepares you for success once classes begin.

Above all, the most important tip for online learning is to take care of yourself. Schedule regular breaks throughout the day; connect with friends and family; and be sure to step outside when possible to take a walk and get some fresh air.

If you are a St. John’s student and you have questions or concerns about a course, contact your professor or your academic advisor. For technical support, please call the Office of Information Technology Service Desk at 718-990-5000.