Ten tips for online learning

By Danny Connolly, Guest Writer

Classes have started up again at SIU, except all students are on laptops and tablets instead of in classrooms.

While some students pursue a degree exclusively in online classes, for many students, this may be their first time being in an online classroom. 

Here are ten tips to succeed in an online classroom. 


Chloe Schobert | @chloscho_art2020

1. Test any new software your teacher is using before the first class period

Just like finding the classroom before the first day, if you can go to class focused on what you will be learning instead of finding which button unmutes your microphone, you’ll understand the material much better. 

 2. Form virtual study groups

Even though you are not allowed to be in the same room, you can use apps like Google Hangouts, Skype and FaceTime and collaborate on Google Drive. Schedule times to meet and keep the conversations focused on the class. 

3. If you haven’t already, start using a planner or a checklist

Your academic rhythm has been thrown off with moving to a different format. Without writing things down, it will be hard to keep track of all the dates. 

 4. Make sure to turn on all notifications for D2L, Outlook and any other software you may use


Lots of deadlines have shifted after Spring Break was extended and some teachers will send you emails or other notifications. It’s important you’re able to see them as soon as you receive them to avoid missing deadlines and schedule changes.

5. Leave distractions in a different room, especially during online lectures

Teachers can’t enforce you being on your phone during lectures, but you still need to pay attention to your learning to grasp the material.

6. Take breaks from the screen

This is for your eyes and your brain.  The American Optometric Association recommends taking a 20 second break for every 20 minutes spent looking at a digital screen by looking at an object 20 feet away to prevent digital eye strain. Additionally, the productivity app DeskTime found the top 10% of most productive workers averaged a 17-minute break after working for 52 minutes, whether working online or in-person.

7. Continue taking notes and making study guides!

Even in online lectures, having a pen and paper to keep notes will help. If your class is not returning to lectures, still regrouping information into an outline or flashcards will help you remember it for later.

8. Find an area where you can work by yourself

It may be hard, as you may be staying in a residency with many people, but even in a corner of a room away from anyone else will help you focus and get your work done. 

9. Stay in contact with your teachers!

Just as much as students, teachers are still figuring how to adjust to non-classroom-based instruction.  Do not be afraid to ask for a short extension because of the stress of the new platform and the virus and give them as much notice as possible to answer any questions you have.

10. Don’t be afraid to use online resources

The YouTube channels Crash Course and Khan Academy host great informative subjects on a vast variety of subjects. Quizlet has many user-generated flashcards found online for all subjects.

Guest writer Danny Connolly is the assignments editor for River Region Evening Edition and can be reached on Twitter at @DConnollyTV. 

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.