Campus News, The Survival Issue

Learning Online: 5 Tips for Success

Learning Online
Graphic by Emily Slater

by Caleb Ford, Reporter  

It happens – the anxiety of online learning like due dates, internet searches, and discussion board posts. Online learning is difficult for some students and in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, students have to focus more on things like retaining information and communicating with professors and other students.
We interviewed three professors, John Barr, Ph.D, history and humanities professor, Loris Zucca, math professor, and Stephanie Kelly, Ph.D, associate history professor and director of the Kingwood Honors College. Here are five tips from them to make students’ online schooling more productive and successful.


  • Key to Success: Communication


Teacher-student communication is extremely important, even if it’s just through an email or a message.  Online programs such as WebAssign offer simple integrated message programs built to facilitate this teacher-student communication. “The students who do well ask a lot of questions online,”  Zucca said. Face to face meetings also help to put a face to your name and get more personal individual help. “I actually had a student today come in and talk to me about the class. I think if you can do that, then there is no reason not to” said Barr.


  • Don’t Procrastinate. Seriously, Don’t.


A positive to online learning can mean freedom to do your work when you want or avoid interaction with your professor. But online classes can also offer greater freedom to procrastinate.  “I think with online classes there is this perception that if I don’t do it at this set time I’ll find a time to do it.” Kelly said.  Procrastination is nothing new to most students; however, it can quickly become a serious epidemic among those students who are online,” the professors said. “Never ever wait until you have an hour to take the exam,” she said. Waiting until the last hour to take that online test can lead to rushed answers, lower grades, and doesn’t leave time for technical issues should they arise. Time management and sticking to a schedule can lead to success, Zucca said. Students who are successful have a set schedule for homework. “The main problem is discipline, [for students] to actually do the work without somebody on them,” he said.


  • Check Your Class Everyday


When in doubt, check D2L. Taking at least 30 minutes a day to work on each class can save you stress. Barr offers a comparison. “I often compare things to a meal, that if you were asked to eat all the food you consume in a year in one sitting, that food would fill a room and you could never do it,” Barr said. “But if you divide it up into three meals a day, it’s very manageable.”

  • Work When Alert

“To the extent that you can, do your work when you’re going to be alert and not exhausted,” Barr said. Nobody wants to read the nonsensical discussion post you wrote at 3 in the morning half asleep – especially not your professor. Figure out when you do your best work, and structure your schedule with that in mind.   


  • Know What You’re Getting Into


Zucca said knowing your strengths and weaknesses is important to online learning. “The worst thing you could possibly do is take the class if you’re not ready for it,” he said.  If you know you don’t know your algebra, review it before you dive headfirst into that online Calculus I class. “If you are taking Calculus I, and you don’t know your algebra, then you’re really stuck in the algebra, not the calculus.” Students “really need to honest with themselves about if they know the previous course.”

Harvey has made a mess of many people’s college preconceptions but at the end of the day, online learning is just an adjustment. So, consider this advice from our knowledgeable staff and you can make it through that online class scratch free, with better grades, and hopefully with a bit more sleep. “I think consistency of effort is the key, that and communication with the professor,” Barr said.  



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