College of Education > COVID-19 Resources > Five Keys to Online Success

5 Keys to Success for Taking Courses Online this Quarter

    • Keep a regular sleep schedule. Wake up at the same time every day, shower, get dressed and eat breakfast. Look at your calendar and prepare for the day. This may sound simple, but it’s easy to get lax and distracted during stressful times.
    • Review all of your courses on D2L and note when you are required to be online. Put these times in the calendar and set reminders on your phone. Our family lives have become so unstructured during this time of social distancing, that time has gotten very elusive.
    • Review all of your syllabi and make a master calendar. Include all due dates: tests, papers, discussion board entries and responses.
    • Make to-do lists for the day. Prioritize your lists using A for most important, B, and C for least important. Focus on finishing the items on your A list first.
    • Time your breaks. Set a timer. For every hour, give yourself 10-15 minutes to get up and stretch, change a load in the laundry, etc. Timing these breaks is important so that 10 minutes doesn’t turn in to the rest of your designated study period.
    • Be realistic about reading. Not all text books are the same. For some texts, you may be able to read 40 pages in an hour and for other more difficult reading, 4 pages of text an hour. Time yourself while reading for 20 minutes and in the front cover of each text, note how many pages can be realistically read in 20 minutes. This will help you structure the time needed for each reading assignment.
    • Carve out chunks of time. Think about what time of day you have the most energy and sufficient privacy and schedule at least 4-6 hours a day to work on your online courses. If possible, try to be consistent with this time as the structure will help with motivation and productivity.
    • Find a space that is yours. Stay at your desk or workstation. Wherever you have decided to do your work, make that YOUR SPOT for working and stay put while working. Stock your spot with what you need.
    • Avoid multitasking. If you’re doing more work on your own and your time is less structured, you might be more tempted to multitask. Many people think they can do multiple things at once but research shows that only about 2% of the population can multitask. Even if you feel like you’re multitasking, you’re probably not… really, you’re switching between tasks very quickly (some call this “micro-tasking”). When you multi-task, assignments take longer, you are more likely to make mistakes and you remember less.
    • Limit your availability. Let family and friends know that you are not available during study times. Put “Do not Disturb” on your phone. Shut off social media.
    • Eliminate other online distractions. There are many apps that can help you focus by preventing browsing. If you tend to get distracted easily online, check out Self Control, Cold Turkey, Stay Focusd and Strict Work Flow.
    • Take notes. Taking notes not only helps you to stay focused but also increases your memory of the material. Research has proven that hand written notes are better for learning material than are typed notes. But if you cannot read your handwriting, typing your notes is still effective.
    • Watch recordings at normal speed. Research shows that playback speed of 1.5x can lower your retention and can result in lower scores on assessments.
    • Buffering. Some people (not all) focus better while doing another activity such as doodling or using a fidget spinner. Many people find that listening to music is the best way to boost their focus. In a noisy household, music or another background noise may actually quiet other more compelling distractions.
    • Stay connected to other people. With social distancing limiting our ability to gather, connecting with family and friends might be more important than ever. Plan time to remotely connect with friends through FaceTime, Zoom, or other apps.
    • Be in contact with your professors and fellow students. Attend virtual office hours. Get to know your classmates through the discussion board, group projects and the class list. Set up chat rooms or a Zoom meeting for group study.
    • Make a virtual appointment with your academic advisor.
    • Accept imperfection. This is a difficult time for all of us. We are experiencing significant stress, juggling many demands, and working in a format that is unfamiliar. Be gentle on yourself, with your family, classmates and instructors. Do your best, and know your best is enough.
    • Get enough sleep. We are more positive and less reactive when we’ve gotten enough shut-eye.
    • Exercise regularly. Physical activity is a great stress reliever. It doesn’t matter how you exercise, as long as you do it regularly. Even doing a set of push-ups or going for a quick walk around the block can clear your head and put things in perspective. Just remember social distancing.
    • Make time for yourself. It’s important to set some aside time for you to do something for your own pleasure. If you don’t recharge the batteries, you will burn out.
    • Treat anxiety and depression. Untreated, these conditions may make your emotional control worse, so it is smart to address these professionally. If needed, contact DePaul’s Counseling Center for an assessment and an appointment with a therapist.
    • Practice mindfulness. Remind yourself that, no matter how strong the emotion you are feeling, it will pass. Pause, take a deep breath, acknowledge your thoughts, and return to the task at hand. There are many free meditation apps you may want to try such as: Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer and more.
    • Don’t take things personally. Covid-19 is impacting everyone. We react to people we are closest to. As much as we like to think that we’re justified in our feelings, there are times when we react to someone for reasons that have little to do with that person.