College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Manage time on task

It is a common misconception that online classes are easy or “self-paced,” but the opposite is typically true. As with all learning, how successful you are online and how much you get out of it depends on what you put into it. Make your class time a priority, and make time for organization.

Here are a few ways class time looks different when online:

Replace time spent in class with new learning tools

The time you would have spent sitting in a classroom is not just replaced with more study time. Instead online courses use other learning assessment tools such as low-stakes quizzes or discussion posts to make sure you are engaging with the class, picking up on the right information, and generally understanding the course content.

Learn more about common online learning activities and how faculty have designed them for optimal learning and engagement. Check out:

The college lecture lives online

Don’t forget about time spent watching videos or video lectures. You are getting your education from a research university which means your professors are often making the very discoveries you are learning about. Video lectures are a great way for professors to speak to you directly as an online learner.

Get the most out of video content and recorded lecturers with these tips. Check out:

Follow your own clock

Night owl or early riser? Online classes are flexible. If you find you’re sleepy or overly distracted when trying to work on your classes, try to find another time in the day that works better for concentration.

Speaking of sleep. Don’t forget to do that, too.


Create your learning space

When you’re in online courses or working on course assignments online, your living space is now your learning space too.

Be consistent

Where possible, find a quiet or less used corner of your home or room and make that your designated classroom. Return to that same space as consistently as possible when you have coursework to do. Eventually you’ll train yourself that sitting in that space means class and/or study time.

Another benefit of using a consistent space? It’ll help you find the most reliable internet connection.

Put away distractions

DO NOT DISTURB. That's your new class time motto. Use the do not disturb function on your phone, or tuck it away somewhere out of reach. And don't forget to close apps and shut down your social media when you're in class online or studying. 

Consider your ambiance

Whether you can create a consistent space in your home or not, it is important to consider the spaces you use for class and study time.

  • Organize and tidy your space after you use it and before you begin working
  • Make sure you have enough light to read, but also the right lighting to be seen during online video sessions
  • Create a space for your supplies. Keep your books and notebooks together in one place along with the basics like pen, paper, calculator
  • Mark your computer charger so you can identify the right one, and then try to keep it plugged in at your learning space so it is always handy

Check out examples of great learning spaces and how to make your own space effective:


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