Lesson 4: Successful Study Strategies

As in face-to-face courses, good study habits will help you succeed in online courses. In this lesson, you will learn the necessary strategies to ensure that you are successful online.

Get ready to learn

Before the class even begins, make sure that you are organized. Here are a few things you can do to prepare for your online course:

  • Create a folder on your computer, and label it with the name of the online class. Save all of your work and course documents into this folder. You might also want to create subfolders within your main folder, and label them "Assignments", "Research", "Notes", etc.
  • If you are the type of student who needs hard copies of class materials, purchase folders or binders to hold your printouts. Label your folders or binders, and perhaps even color-code them for specific tasks. If you prefer to take notes with a pencil or pen (as opposed to typing), purchase and label a notebook.
  • Create a folder inside your email program, and label it with the name of the class. Move class emails into this folder so they won't get mixed in with your personal email. If your instructor uses the Messages tool in Blackboard, you can create folders by topics and move emails into them.

Choose the right time and place to study

If you're like many students who learn online, you probably juggle your studies with work, family, or both. In addition, there's your social life, leisure time, exercise, and possibly other things in your life. Therefore, you need to schedule in time for your studies. And since you'll be using a computer, you need to make sure that you and your computer are in the proper location for studying.

Use a calendar to schedule your study time and your discussion posting.  Include logging into the class and completing classwork online as part of your study time. Schedule your study time in one- or two-hour blocks, and try to stick to your schedule.

Of course, only you know when your concentration level is the highest, so schedule your studying during that time. If you typically fall asleep around 11 p.m., don't begin studying at 10:30.

Some other tips:

  • Schedule some of your study time prior to your weekly chat. This way, if you have questions, you can get answers fairly quickly.
  • For midterms, finals, research papers, or any other big project, schedule your study time far enough in advance to avoid a big rush of work close to the due date.
  • For tasks such as those above, break the work up into manageable amounts. Study two chapters a day in the week prior to the midterm, for example, instead of all eight the night before.

Where you study can be equally important as when you study. Obviously, you'll need to pick a place that is quiet and free of distractions. If you're like many online students, that place will be at home.

  • Make sure your study environment has good lighting and ventilation. Try to reduce glare on your computer screen.
  • Have plenty of room for study materials: texts, notes, paper, pencils, dictionary, reference books, etc.
  • If you use a laptop, do not place the computer on your lap while leaning back in a reclining chair. You increase your chances of falling asleep. The same applies with reading a book. Use a chair with a supportive back, and place the laptop on a desk or table. The heat from a laptop can cause discomfort to your lap, as well.