Strategies for Successful Online Learning
By Gina Bellisario
This past March, students across the United States were introduced to the concept of online learning. Although
high schools and colleges have offered online courses for a number of years, many students found themselves
immersed in a brand-new experience, with every one of their subjects being taught in a completely remote
Online learning, as with any experience, comes with a unique set of challenges. Students do not have a bell
schedule to keep them moving from subject to subject, nor do they have teachers physically present to guide
them through an activity. For the most part, they must work independently, creating their own schedules and
utilizing educational resources. However, by using the following strategies, they can make the experience a
Strategy #1: Write Down the Course Schedule
Every course will have a specific schedule, with certain times and days devoted to virtual class meetings and
independent work. Since the schedule may vary from day to day, it is important for students to write it down on
a calendar or sheet of paper and post it where it can be easily referenced, such as near a desk or on a bulletin
Strategy #2: Create a Workstation
Students may already have a place in their homes where they complete homework. They may work at a desk
in a bedroom or at the kitchen table. In an online learning setting, having a workstation is necessary. It should
include a flat surface that has enough room for a notebook, Chromebook, an iPad, or a textbook. It should also
include supplies needed to complete the assignment at hand, such as a pencil for annotating a novel or a
calculator for solving math problems.
Strategy #3: Remove Distractions
Imagine this: a student is reviewing her study guide to prepare for a test tomorrow. Suddenly, she gets a text
notification. She picks up her phone beside her and notices the text is from a good friend. Without a second
thought, she responds, allowing herself to get pulled into a vortex of back-and-forth messaging. She has
forgotten about the test, which does not go so well the next day.
Distractions (e.g. phones, video games, etc.) can draw a student’s attention away from her coursework,
stunting her academic growth. They should be removed from a workstation so that the student can maximize
her focus and achieve her potential.
Strategy #4: Record Daily Assignments
During online learning, students may receive multiple assignments each day, with each assignment having a
different due date. In order to stay organized, they can record their daily assignments in a notebook. Doing so
will help them avoid late or missing work, which can result in a lower grade. When completing an assignment,
students should cross it out to easily see any remaining homework. This practice also gives them a sense of
Strategy #5: Use School Resources
Although students must work independently online, they do not have to go through the experience alone. If
they have a question about an assignment, help is only an email away. They can email their teachers for
academic support, even set up a virtual appointment. Schools often have resource centers that provide support
as well. These centers may offer one-to-one coaching in a variety of subject areas and specialized instruction for students with learning needs.
There may also be resources that troubleshoot technology-related problems,
in case a student’s Chromebook or other school-issued device is not working. A student can ask her teacher or
check the course syllabus to find out which resources are available through the school.
Online learning can be challenging, but it can also be an opportunity for students to build beneficial academic
habits and take charge of their education. By using these strategies and others, they can lay the groundwork
for a successful school career–behind the screen or in the classroom.