Tips for Success When Learning Online

Female student studys at computer

Classes at VCU will be taught remotely for the foreseeable future using digital resources such as Blackboard, videoconferencing, online programs, etc. We know you have a lot on your plate adjusting to the changes of being a distance learner, changing your learning environment, and establishing your new routine.

Below are some suggestions from our Academic Coaches at the Campus Learning Center to help you adjust to this shift.

  • Take time to plan out your days. Create specific times for studying, self-care, and taking breaks. You can download a weekly schedule template with suggestions on how to manage your time.
  • Think long term by utilizing a term-long calendar. This could be a paper-and-pen planner, a calendar or a digital platform
  • Consult updated syllabi, Blackboard, and messages from your professors for possible changes in due dates and expectations
  • Create daily to-do lists. It is motivating to cross things off!
  • Remember to space out larger assignments or projects across multiple days or study sessions
  • To structure your study sessions check out the Study Cycle
  • Avoid passive studying (re-reading your notes, textbook, or Powerpoints)
  • Study actively. Examples of active studying include:
    • Concept mapping
    • Flashcards
    • Summarizing notes in your own words
    • Self-testing
    • Practice questions
    • Teach the material to someone else
    • Study material over the course of a few days, not just all at once; repetition is key - you can download an exam planning sheet here to assist you with creating a personalized study plan for upcoming exams
  • Plan to take breaks from studying
  • Connect with friends and family via FaceTime or Zoom
  • Try a home workout, a walk outside, or mindfulness activity on
  • Do your best to establish healthy sleeping and eating routines
  • Carefully read test instructions before beginning your test
  • Ask your course instructor if you are unsure what resources you can use during your test and only use those specific resources
  • Ensure that you have an quiet environment to take your test and communicate to your housemates that you are taking an test
  • Be aware of time limits and only take your test when you have enough time
  • Don’t leave your test page, open a new window if you need to access another website (if allowed by your instructor)
  • Review group assignment instructions prior to starting the assignment to make sure everyone understands the tasks at hand
  • Set group expectations about communication and deadlines
  • Assign tasks to each member of the group and document these in writing
  • Be helpful and supportive!
  • Review all portions of work submitted prior to submission and/or agreeing that the assignment is ready for submission
  • Let your professor know if you have a concern about how the work is being completed in your group project
  • Use Zoom if you need to meet virtually

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