Advice for Learning Online—from Students Who’ve Been There

2U, Inc. is the parent company of edX.

As more students get acclimated to online learning, they will naturally become more comfortable with the technology, study habits, and resources they need to succeed in the digital classroom. Their newfound confidence notwithstanding, there is still room for guidance on best practices and techniques that can make the online learning experience even better.

Earlier last month, we posted advice from 2U, Inc. employees who graduated or are currently enrolled in our degree programs, short courses, and boot camps. We received so many great responses that we wanted to share more of their tips and tricks for students who are continuing to transition to online learning.

So here are more helpful strategies and suggestions to make learning online as good, if not better, than any in-person classroom experience.

What tools do/did you use to make the learning process more effective?

Microsoft OneNote for note taking for asynchronous and live sessions.

– Elizabeth P., Graduate, DataScience@Berkeley

Zoom is amazing. Breakout rooms and chat features make the classes intimate and engaging.

– Brigette A., Student, MBA@American

I leaned on the learning management system to keep me organized through the learning process.

Katharine G., Graduate, MBA@American

I use a notepad and pen so that my hands feel like they have something to do.

– Christina M., Student, Strategic Communications at Columbian College of Arts and Sciences at the George Washington University

How do/did you remain engaged online?

Close those apps! It is easy to get distracted. I close my phone and all the apps on my laptop and then turn music on while I am studying or doing homework.

– Candice A., Student, MBA@UNC

Actively participate! Staring blankly at a Zoom room for an hour and a half during live class will get really dry.

– TJ S., Student, MBA@Syracuse

The chat functionality was key to stay engaged in between speaking and to drive interesting conversations. I also was sure to connect with my classmates and professors on LinkedIn.

– Katharine G., Graduate, MBA@American

Anything you can do to avoid sitting, do it! A standing desk has made my online experience much more focused.

– Matt B., Student, iSchool@Syracuse

Use your camera when in live classes. Seeing faces increases connection and makes it easier to stay engaged.

– Elizabeth P., Graduate, DataScience@Berkeley

Take part in the discussion forums as much as you can. They are good places to engage and learn from others.

Luke L., Student, Oxford Digital Marketing: Disruptive Strategy Programme

What is one tech tip that saved the day for you during your program?

Having the right setup, lighting, and headphones was important to show my level of professionalism but also comfort through in-person sessions each week.

– Katharine G., Graduate, MBA@American

Store all course materials where you can always see them. Google Drive has been a lifesaver.

– Matt B., Student, iSchool@Syracuse

Take advantage of the ability to rewatch your classes.

– Brigette A., Student, MBA@American

I save all my resources from each module into a folder on my desktop. I categorize it by module, and this includes all videos, notes, and resources.

– Stacey R., Student, Oxford Women’s Leadership Development Programme

Dial in with your phone to live meetings versus using computer audio. If your internet dies, you’ll still be in class.

– Elizabeth P., Graduate, DataScience@Berkeley

Watch asynchronous content in sped-up playback; 1.5x still sounds fairly normal and saves time.

— TJ S., Student, MBA@Syracuse

Download your async to your tablet and ensure it works before you lose internet! – Christa S., Student, MBA@UNC

Noise canceling headphones.

– Candice A., Student, MBA@UNC

How do/did you maintain strong ties to your professor and your peers?

Engage, engage, engage! The class-wide forum and small discussion groups are so valuable for online programmes.

– Stacey R., Student, Oxford Women’s Leadership Development Programme

Texting and email are huge to engage with peers.

– Brigette A., Student, MBA@American

Through the online campus discussion forums.

– Luke L., Student, Oxford Digital Marketing: Disruptive Strategy Programme

The team members from my first group project have a WhatsApp group. We send notes to each other during (and after) the term.

– Christa S., Student, MBA@UNC

We have group chats and Facebook groups, and I actually text with my classmates every day.

– Candice A., Student, MBA@UNC

Take your connection beyond the classroom! Use all the mediums you have available—chats, group projects, study groups, WhatsApp, Facebook—to make the relationship transcend the classroom.

Monica R., Graduate, MBA@UNC

While online learning is still a new phenomenon for many students, it doesn’t have to be difficult.

This article was originally published by 2U, Inc.


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