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10 Ways to Succeed in Online Courses During COVID-19

10 Ways to Succeed in Online Courses During COVID-19

10 Ways to Succeed in Online Courses During COVID-19

As COVID-19 cases soar across Canada, more students are turning to online courses to reach their higher education goals.

A recent survey of 100,000 college students by Statistics Canada found that 75% of respondents had all of their coursework move online due to COVID-19. Of the students who moved entirely to online courses, one in ten said they couldn’t complete one or more of their courses.

Online courses can be an effective way to learn, but it comes down to having a good plan and keeping yourself organized.

Online Classes: Keys to Success

Here are 10 ways to be succeed in your online courses during COVID-19

1. Get prepared well before class starts.

Begin by writing out a weekly schedule for the next term, blocking off times you know you’ll be in class each day of the week or studying. If you work, take a picture of your schedule and send it to your employer, as well as the dates of your exams and any holiday breaks.

10 Ways to Succeed in Online Courses During COVID-19
10 Ways to Succeed in Online Courses During COVID-19

Then, gather materials you’ll need for your online courses, including supplies to take notes, textbooks, study guides and any software your courses require.

On your computer, set up bookmarks to websites you’ll need access to regularly and create folders on your desktop to save any digital notes or files you create for each course.

5 Online Distance Learning Tips

You can consult your course syllabus or reach out to your instructor if you’re not sure about dates or supplies.

2. Have at least two workspaces.

Designate one area of your home as a workspace, and find another location you can use as a backup plan in case you can’t work from your normal spot for some reason.

Online Working
Working Online

Whether it’s a library or nearby coffee shop, be sure that both of your workspaces have access to the internet, enough electrical outlets to charge your electronics, plenty of lighting and minimal distractions. According to a study published in academic journal Teaching Sociology, one of the biggest barriers to remote student learning during COVID-19 has been technology problems – even among students who did not anticipate having them.

3. Set a routine.

Make it a goal to wake up at the same time every day and give yourself at least an hour to get ready in the morning so you feel prepared for your online courses.

Planning For The Day
Planning For The Day

Keep a copy of your weekly schedule somewhere visible to your usual workspace so you can easily refer to it when making plans.

Be sure to schedule regular breaks to relax and organize your workspace through the day. If you’re feeling bored, consider switching your routine up on some days. Move to a different workspace halfway through the day or do something different during one of your scheduled breaks to spice things up.

4. Track your progress on assignments.

It will be mostly up to you to manage your own time. Set reminders in your phone about upcoming deadlines or write them down in a planner. If you have larger assignments or projects, break them into manageable tasks and gradually chip away them, being sure to note if you complete the entire task, or if you need more time to finish it later.

Online Learning Scheduling and Note Taking

5. Regularly take note of how you’re feeling.

Along with your schedule and daily tasks, take note of how you’re feeling every day. If you notice that you’re starting to feel ill, or if you’re unhappy or unmotivated for more than a couple days, reach out to your professors and loved ones to let them know what’s going on.

Consulting a Doctor
Consulting a Doctor

6. Seek out online counseling if you need it.

COVID-19 has changed quite a bit of things in our lives, but it’s also made it much easier to connect with great counselors online. If you do take advantage of online counseling, share your daily health log with your counselor so they can identify any patterns and understand how long you’ve been feeling down.

Online Counselling Session
Online Counselling Session

7. Keep contact information for instructors and classmates handy.

It’s unfortunate we can’t all be together for class, but that doesn’t mean we can’t stay in touch. Create a list of your instructors and their contact information if you need ask them a question outside of class. Do the same with any classmates you would like to study with and reach out to them periodically to see how they’re doing. Save the file to your computer desktop or keep it somewhere easily accessible. Make it a goal to reach out to at least one or two people on your list every week.

Online Student Collaboration
Online Student Collaboration

8. Ask for help before you get completely overwhelmed.

Don’t feel embarrassed if you’re not understanding something in your online courses, or if your workload is causing you stress. Sit down and identify what’s giving you the most trouble and set up a time with your instructor to go over those things together.

Signs of Stress
Signs of Stress

9. Have a COVID-19 plan.

COVID-19 is still a threat we are all facing, so have a plan in place in case you or someone you live with happens to come down with the virus.

COVID-19 Test Kit
COVID-19 Test Kit

This plan should include information about your instructors’ sick day policies, their contact information, your employer’s contact information and maybe some classmates who could take notes for you. Be sure to alert your instructors as soon as possible if you’re going to have to miss class or an assignment deadline.

10. Find a strategy to stay on track.

Everyone’s attention span is a little different, and it can be really easy to get distracted from your coursework by things at home. Think about ways you’ve found yourself wasting time – don’t worry, we all do it from time to time – and figure out realistic ways to avoid those distractions.

Avoid Distractions During Online Learning
Avoid Distractions During Online Learning

If you live in a noisy household, purchase some earplugs or use headphones to drown out the background noises. If you tend to browse the internet or watch TV, give yourself a time limit to do those things so you don’t spend too much time enjoying that sweet freedom of learning from home.


  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0092055X20954263
  2. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/45-28-0001/2020001/article/00015-eng.htm

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