Helpful Tips for Students to Learn Online

Task: This article includes a set of tips for students to be more productive while learning online.
  • Read and make notes of the syllabus, schedule, and other documents to understand course expectations, due dates, and technologies to be used.
  • Dedicate regularly scheduled time and routines for each of your courses. 
  • Test your technology. If you need to attend virtual office hours or submit work online, make sure you know how it works in advance.
  • Participate regularly in course assignments, discussions, and groups as outlined by your instructor.
    • To learn more about viewing and submitting to assignments and discussions or how to participate in a group, visit this student guide.
  • Engage in study strategies 
  • Communicate with your instructor if you any have questions.


Here are 10 practical things you can do to make the transition to online learning. These were synthesized from a number of sources by UNH professor Dr. Karen Collins, Department of Kinesiology, College of Health & Human Services.

  1. Get dressed
  • I recently read an article, and this was the first strategy. It was actually phrased “Put your damn pants on.” It was about avoiding the temptation to stay in PJ’s all day. Students get dressed when they come to class, so the mindset is wearing clothes that you typically wear to school are more amenable to working as opposed to lounging and watching Netflix. See article "A Student's Guide to 'Working From Home'' for strategies. 
  1. Find your productive workspace
  • On-campus and in dorms, students have a “favorite place” (coffee shop, table, spot at library, etc.). Students should think about recreating this in their home or local area. Set the environment that helps you focus.
  1. Activate for the day
  • We often have routines before starting the day on campus. This may include trips to the gym, breakfast, coffee shop. Try and replicate this to get the body moving to start the day. It helps get our mind and body ready to have a “school day”.
  1. Set boundaries
  • There are likely to be more and more distractions at home, especially when a student does not physically have to go to class. It is easier to get off track and harder to say ‘no’ to invitations that take you away from schoolwork. Help students create boundaries and set their schedule so it is clear what is “work time” and what is downtime. For example, tell family members/friends when I am at this desk, it’s work time.
  1. Follow a routine
  • Students who are enrolled in four classes are likely to have four different sets of expectations for their online learning. Encourage students to keep the same “schedule” as they did when classes are face to face. For example, if a class is from 2-3:30 PM, students should use that time block to do their work, even if the work in that class has moved to “asynchronous”.
  1. Use the extra time to your advantage
  • Do take advantage of some of the extra downtime. The commute or walk between classes is eliminated, so plan these times for going for a walk, refocusing, etc.
  1. Ask questions
  • This situation is new for everyone. In this case, it’s better to ask a question than to assume “I’ll figure it out.” Ask your professors questions. While they may not have an immediate answer, they will help you figure it out. There will be support systems in place for Canvas and Zoom as well.
  1. Take a breath
  • It’s going to be okay and we will get through this. Practice patience, adaptability, and understanding.
  1. Turn off electronic apps/remove distractions
  • We know that our computers and devices provide built-in distractions (i.e. IMessage). Consider turning off these distractions during class and work time. There are a number of ways to do this. See article 8 Website Blockers For Studying, Productivity, & Focus for a way to limit distractions.
  1. Recognize it's okay to feel anxious.
  • This is new for all of us. Being organized and taking it day by day (and following some of the above suggestions) will help. Know where your resources are and where you can find extra support. Check often the help pages provided for students: Library TutorialsStudent FAQ, Technical Requirements, Transitioning to Online Learning. Reach out to your instructors and your classmates. You’re not in this alone; we’re all in it together!


Users should have learned new strategies from which to approach online learning.

Further reading:

A Student's Guide to "Working From Home"

8 Website Blockers for Studying, Productivity, & Focus

Library Tutorials

Student FAQ

Technical Requirements

Transitioning to Online Learning

Need additional help?

Please use this link to the Technology Help Desk to locate your local campus contact information.


Article ID: 2195
Mon 3/23/20 9:05 AM
Tue 10/24/23 3:12 PM
Applicable Institution(s):
Keene State College (KSC)
Plymouth State University (PSU)
University of New Hampshire (UNH)