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Online learning offers students the opportunity to work from the comfort of their bedrooms, on their couches, and in their living rooms. The rise of online learning classrooms and attending lectures virtually has only increased during this unprecedented time — one of the main effects of COVID-19 for students in colleges and universities around the world. As classrooms shift to virtual platforms you might be tempted to stay in your pajamas all day, to never turn on your shower again. However, as students still enrolled in classes, which are still meeting online, you’ll need to show up and demonstrate to your professors that you are present, paying attention, and participating. There are some definite do’s and don’ts for students in the virtual classroom. Here are some reminders of how to be the best online student you can be.

The do’s for online learning

  1. Be punctual, log in on time

As a student enrolled in online classes, attendance still matters. You’ll want to log into whatever online platform your professor is using. Make sure your computer is charged and be ready to appear on screen in a timely fashion. Being late is not acceptable, especially as your commute is (probably) from your bedroom to the couch in your living room!

  1. Read the syllabus

This might sound silly, but read the syllabus ahead of time. Make sure you’ve read the required reading, or are prepared to participate based on the syllabus provided by your instructor. The syllabus is still your road map to successfully passing and excelling in the courses you’re enrolled in so don’t forget to look at it beforehand.

  1. Introduce yourself and respect your peers

Make sure you introduce yourself and talk slowly. Sound quality will differ depending on each student’s home office set up. You’ll want to make sure people can hear you and that you can hear them. Discussion sessions — even in person — can become contentious if you strongly disagree with one of your peer’s opinions. However, make sure you respect your fellow students and allow them the microphone floor when they are speaking.

  1. Set up your space, make sure it’s quiet and uninterrupted

Logistically, to make sure you can participate fully as an online student, you will want to set up a space that is, as much as possible, free of distractions as possible and that will be uninterrupted for the full duration of your class session. It’s also recommended that you set up a clear background behind you — cover up your favorite band poster, don’t let them see your dirty laundry all over the floor. Lock your door for privacy and to be sure your roommate won’t walk in, and if you have family members politely ask them not to disturb you during the call/meeting, lest you face a situation like this…

  1. Test your tech

Glitches in your technology mean you could miss some vital part of your professor’s lecture. Make sure the camera is stable and that your audio or microphone works. Use headphones to make sure you can hear everyone. Plug in your computer and make sure it’s charged ahead of time.

  1. Embrace being flexible

As an online learner, you’ll likely be familiar with the appeal of this type of learning — setting your own schedule, working from home, and more. Being flexible is essential to being a successful online learner. It’s important that you manage your time effectively, make sure you allow enough time and space in your day to log on.

The don’ts for online learning

  1. Don’t be a wallflower, don’t be afraid to speak up

Even in-person classes require students to be active participants — so don’t be a wallflower. Professors will be expecting you to participate even in an online class. Lean into the microphone and make sure you offer your opinions and thoughts in a discussion session. Don’t be afraid to speak up. In some ways there is less stress associated with talking into a microphone than in-person.

  1. No excuses for bad tech

As a student enrolled in an online class the professor will expect you to be able to set up your technology accordingly to log in on time and to participate fully. And just like you can’t blame your dog for eating your homework, you can’t really blame your performance in your online class on technical problems.

  1. Ignore additional online resources

Don’t get distracted by other online resources or websites while you’re participating in your online class or lecture. It’s easy to always be continually surfing the internet, but you’ll want to pay attention and not stray from the content your professor or instructor is providing you. Block pop-ups and make sure you turn off notifications while you’re logged on and “in class.”

  1. Don’t think you’re doing it all alone

Online learning can feel very isolated and lonely at times. Change this feeling by collaborating with a classmate. Set up an in-person meeting and study date. Your professor might also assign group projects which will make you feel more connected to your fellow students. Don’t think you’re in it all alone. In fact, there’s an entire group of other students in the same boat as you. Connect with them in our online forum discussions.

  1. Don’t get discouraged

A positive attitude will help get you through your online classes. Make sure you give yourself breaks. Take walks, have a cup of coffee or tea break, commiserate with a friend who is also taking an online class, take a yoga break, and schedule some time in your day, every day, that is screen-free. Most of all, if you feel discouraged, honor that for 10 minutes. Then get back to work.

Hopefully those who are new to online learning find it is, at the very least, a workable temporary solution — and possibly even something you want and personally preferable to on-campus learning. It’s a fast-paced and dynamic way to accelerate your learning and it will help you achieve your goals, both academically and personally. Online learning gets you closer to degree completion and can give you the skills and knowledge needed to excel in your career. So log on today!