Top tips for mastering online courses

By Diane VanDyke
To be successful with online learning, create a comfortable workspace in your home where you can participate in your classes and do your assignments.

To be successful with online learning, create a comfortable workspace in your home where you can participate in your classes and do your assignments.

Transitioning from on-campus to online classes can be a smooth, simple process by following some basic steps as you get started!

  1. Learn the technology first. Before starting online classes, take the time to sign up for training and learn the technology you will be using to avoid frustration later. Review the tutorials, take notes and even create some cheat sheets. This is a good time to become familiar with chat boards, library portals, file-sharing programs and video-conferencing software (just think how tech-savvy you’ll become!). Remember, you are not alone! Montco is here to support you throughout this process!
    • If you need technology or Wi-Fi for your classes, have questions about Blackboard and/or want to review tutorials, visit the Current Students section.
    • If you are having technical problems, contact the Help Desk at 
  2. Create your special workspace. Yes, you will need a quiet (or at least semi-quiet), distraction-free space to participate in your classes, study and complete assignments.
    • Try to find a place in your home that is both comfortable and functional, where you can keep the supplies and materials you will need.
    • Working in a designated area will not only help you to stay focused and concentrate, but it will let your family members know you working on your online classes.
    • If you don’t have a quiet space, try using earphones to participate in your classes or listen to music when studying.
  3. Manage your time. Taking online classes gives you the flexibility to be in the comfort of your home, but it also presents a host of distractions, including that never-ending pile of laundry, attention-seeking children or those beckoning snacks. Managing your time and minimizing distractions will depend upon your schedule, learning style and personality.
    • Everybody has his/her best time to work. Are you an early bird, night owl or somewhere in between? Whatever time you prefer to study and learn, create a weekly schedule and stick to it. In your schedule, allow time for completing chores, playing with your kids and relaxing.
    • With your online classes, it’s important to note on your calendar when assignments are due and tests are scheduled. Set reminders and allow some extra time for emergencies or unexpected events that may interfere with completing your work.
    • When working on your assignments, try setting a block of time to complete each task before working on the next one.
    • Eliminate other distractions, including social media, texting and emails, by turning off your notifications and cell phone.
  4. Communicate with your professors. While your instructors are not physically present, they still want to connect with and hear from you. Engage with them early and often, asking questions and letting them know how you are doing. In addition to your professors, Montco has several available resources, including 24/7 online tutoring, online library resources, disability services, academic advising, and health and wellness services.
  5. Network with your classmates. Reach out and connect with your classmates who, just like you, are transitioning to online learning. You can help each other when studying for exams or asking for feedback on assignments.
  6. Share responsibilities. With schools being closed, many of you are studying, working at home and taking care of your children. It’s not easy, but here are a few helpful things to try:
    • Coordinate learning schedules. When it’s your time to log in for your class or work on your homework, make it your children’s time to learn, too. They can watch educational TV shows, read books, make crafts or work on puzzles.
    • Divide and conquer. If you can, share the parenting time with your spouse or others in your household.
    • Be flexible, but stick with your commitment. If you need to spend time with your children, go ahead, but reschedule the time for yourself to finish your assignments, too.

Above all, keep a positive attitude! You CAN do this and your Montco Family is here to help you along your journey. Your college experience is a time of learning, exploration and personal growth, and you will gain new knowledge and skills as you master online learning.


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