Foster Resilient Learners

Being an online student isn’t easy; it doesn’t matter if it’s synchronous, asynchronous or hybrid. It requires you (the student) to take much more ownership of your learning and responsibility for your success.  This page contains resources for you and your students to create more flexible and resilient students. 

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Student Tips for Online Learning

Being an online student isn’t easy; it doesn’t matter if it’s synchronous, asynchronous or hybrid. It requires you (the student) to take much more ownership of your learning and responsibility for your success. It’s also important that you accept critical thinking and decision making as part of the learning process. You may think that you are teaching yourself but that’s actually not the case. The faculty member is still providing you with readings, content and lectures, it’s your responsibility to participate in the course and do the work in order to learn. Below are some tips to help you with that.

1. Treat an online course or online time like a “real” course.

Set aside time (50 min every MWF or 75 min every TTh) to “attend” each class. This is the time to watch any online lectures that are required for your non-f2f or non-synchronous class meeting and are critical in an asynchronous class. Add this time to your schedule and don’t “skip” class.

2. Know the expectations for each class

Take a minute and jot down all the expectations in each class syllabus. It’s important that you know what each class requires of you and what each professor expects of you. Most professors will spell out how you can be successful in their classes.

3. Get organized and set a schedule

While you’re looking at your syllabi, create a schedule with ALL of the due dates in ALL of the classes in ONE calendar. This allows you to spot times of heavy workload and plan accordingly. Sticking to this schedule is critical to success.

4. Practice Time Management

Once you have the schedule created set aside time, in addition to your “class” time, to do your homework. You should be willing and able to commit a minimum of 4-10 hours per week per class on homework, just like you would in a traditional face-to-face class. Add that time to your schedule.

When scheduling your work, don’t do it all at once. If you can’t still or concentrate for more than 30 minutes then break these up into 30 min chunks. Likewise, if an hour is best for you then go with an hour. It’s better to do it in small chunks over time and success than try to cram it all in one large chunk and not retain information or do your best work. Try dividing your work into manageable chunks and rewarding yourself when you finish each chunk. I will make doing the work (more) fun.

5. Hold Yourself Accountable

This is probably the most difficult skill. In an online class you are much more responsible for your own motivation and for being self-disciplined. You may not be given a specific class time to attend so you have to follow that schedule you create. You have to be disciplined enough to watch your online lectures. You have to be responsible for completing assignments on time. Don’t let yourself get behind on assignments and, if you do, contact your professor immediately and come up with a plan. Don’t let things pile up or it will overwhelm you.

6. Participate fully in class

Whether you meet synchronously in Zoom or asynchronously in discussion boards, participate fully. This is where you can make connections with your other classmates and start to form a community. This community can help you study or just be there if things are becoming overwhelming.

7. Ask questions

There is no shame in not understanding something. You’re at CofC to learn, so don’t be afraid to do just that! Asking for help or clarification is a way to make sure you understand and helps you form a relationship with your professor. You can go to online office hours (highly recommended), ask in a discussion board, or in a synchronous class. Whatever the method, ASK! You also have the people in the Center for Student Learning that are available to help you as well. And for tech issues you have the Student Instructional Technologist that can help.

8. Take notes

Just as in a traditional face-to-face class, taking notes will not only keep you more engaged during class, but will also help you narrow down what you need to study when exam time rolls around. Take notes in synchronous classes, when watching online lectures and of your reading. This is good practice whether you are online or in a face-to-face class.

9. Study Smart

Studies show that cramming doesn’t work, not in the long run at least. Don’t just reread your notes to study. Take time to quiz yourself on your notes multiple times a week to help move your learning from short to long-term memory. Consistent recall (through self-quizzing or flash cards) is the best way to study.

10. Take good care of yourself

First and foremost, get enough sleep. Sleep is the most critical thing to learning. Work in some time to get out of the house and move around, even if that means just walking outside for a little bit. Getting some fresh air and a little bit of exercise sounds hokie but studies show that decreases stress and enhances relaxation.

11. Don’t multitask

Studies have shown that multitasking is physically impossible.

12. Create a regular study space and keep it organized

Look for places away from TV and other distractions. Make it comfortable and nice. A place you want to spend time in. Make sure it’s not in the kitchen or dining room where there is a lot of household foot traffic. If it’s in your room, make it somewhere other than your bed, like a small desk. You need to create that separation between being “at school” and being at home for your own sanity, so working in this study space will help with that.

13. Utilize your resources

CofC offers resources to help students in a multitude of ways. Look below for the resource that may best fit your needs.


Resources Used:

Zoom Netiquette
Encourage Students to Come to Office Hours

Tips for Online Office Hours

“Frequent student-faculty contact in and out of classes is the most important factor in student motivation and involvement” (Chickering & Gamson, 1986, p. 3)

Tip 1 – Explain Office Hours and their Purpose

For us in the university mindset, office hours are ingrained in our vocabulary.  However, for your students, especially freshmen, they may not know what office hours are and how or why to use them to be more successful.  

Here is a way to explain office hours that you may want to include in your class:

Office hours are times when you can meet with me to discuss the material being presented in class or other related interests you have.  Think of office hours as an opportunity to 

  • discuss or get feedback about assignments and tests.
  • discuss course material or concepts you don’t understand.
  • share any information about extenuating personal circumstances that may be affecting your learning and class performance. 
  • discuss academic and/or career goals. 
  • discuss potential research or internship opportunities.
  • get to know me and for me to get to know you better.

(adapted from William and Mary’s Hidden Rules for Office Hours)

I highly encourage you to come to office hours and look forward to seeing you there.  


Tip 2 – Ask Them Questions Before They Leave

Asking a student a question about themselves, before they leave the breakout room, creates a personal connection that will help all students.  These connections can prevent students from leaving CofC and let’s them know that you are there for them and that you care about them as people.  That they aren’t just a number.  Here are some sample questions to get you started:

  • What are your biggest barriers to learning in this semester?
  • What is your favorite class you are taking and why?
  • How do you like to contribute to class?
  • What is the most important challenge you currently face?
  • What do you see as your greatest challenge for the future? end of semester, next year, next 90 days?
  • What activities do you seem to pick up quickly? What activities bring you the greatest satisfaction?
  • What do you think is your greatest strength? or skill?

The important thing is to get them to talk and to open up.  Some students who are experiencing problems, not just in class, but in life, may have no one to open up to.  Questions like these may prompt them to open up to you.

Help Students Learn OAKS




Download a printable PDF of the OAKS Quicksheet for Students

Students can also take a course how all the OAKS tools and get tutorials on OAKS and other applications at the Student Instructional Technology Site