How to study for an online class

This article was co-authored by Jai Flicker. Jai Flicker is an Academic Tutor and the CEO and Founder of Lifeworks Learning Center, a San Francisco Bay Area-based business focused on providing tutoring, parental support, test preparation, college essay writing help, and psychoeducational evaluations to help students transform their attitude toward learning. Jai has over 20 years of experience in the education management industry. He holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of California, San Diego.

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Online courses can be a more convenient, and sometimes cheaper, means of learning. If you signed up for an online class, however, sometimes concentrating on studying can be difficult. As you often absorb the material on your own time, you may struggle to stay focused. To start, create and stick to a strict study schedule. Make sure to find ways to work with online material. You may, for example, need to print out lecture notes on occasion so you can study away from the computer. Make sure to use effective study skills. Study skills that would work in any course are applicable to an online class.

How to study for an online class

Learning is a fundamental part of life; many of us continue studying even when we leave formal education. This means good study skills are vital for all of us. Many, however, lack these skills and struggle to study effectively.

This course aims to change that. Through the course you will learn to become a better student by learning to apply the ‘three-step model’ of studying: previewing, summarising and revising. You will consider your use of time and learn how to make a realistic study plan. You will also learn how to tackle procrastination, deal with stress and keep motivated while studying.

This course for anyone currently studying including full-time students and people studying for professional or personal development. It might also be useful to anyone involved in the learning process, for example teachers, student advisors and family.

Taught by


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4.9 rating, based on 143 reviews

Start your review of Improving Your Study Techniques

This is an excellent course blending hard and soft studying techniques, which makes studying more enjoyable.

The instructors begin by introducing the three-step method for studying. As the videos include interviews to students using the method, I felt like the MOOC was interactive, after sharing my experiences on the platform. Furthermore, the course offered good strategies to prepare and to take open essay and multiple-choice exams.

What is great about this course is that the materials went well beyond the hard studying techniques. The lectures applied psychological theory to reduce stress and procrastination, which would increase your motivation. For example, one of the goals of the three-step method was in fact to reduce stress and to increase your motivation. They also introduced many good practices to avoid procrastination and to reduce stress, which are essential to increase your motivation.

Overall, this course was an eyeopener to me. It was well presented and enjoyable. While the main target appears to be college students, I strongly recommend this course to anyone who wants to study better. I wish I could have taken this course when I had formal education.

Anonymous completed this course.

This is the third course on studying/learning that I’ve taken so far, and by far the best out of the three. It was spread across four weeks and taught me a lot, I don’t know how much someone who already knows a good deal about studying would get from this but these were my most important take-aways: Topic-Comment (TC) method of note-taking, immediately after learning about it I began writing all my notes in this style and it has really helped with absorption; Previewing a book or article; Time-management (weekly, semester, long-term planning); the ‘lecture hacks’ were also really impressive; Revising and in particular planning for it as well doing additional revision in the evening; psychological techniques to deal with procrastination; the Pomodoro Method, the 5-minute plan, personal rewards; dealing with stress using basic psychological techniques; sleep and its effects on academic performance and finally the motivation equation.

Which again, makes up most of the course. Prior to taking this course I had tried some on some site where you could buy bundles, and they were of so low quality that I actually wrote off online courses altogether for years, I just started up again to prepare to have a try at programming, getting a BS in computer science, and knew I’d have to fix any issues prior to starting down that path, I made a list of lectures and relevant books, textbooks, etc. to try in my free-time prior to my plan, and again the two first one’s really didn’t give me anything – it was fairly vague, almost pseudo-self-help like the equivalent to a motivational talk and again I considered writing off online courses, but then I started this course and it completely blew me away, I finished it in 6 days, each day I’d dedicate more time to it because of how useful the lessons were and also how well produced it was. The students they interview are great as are the teachers, the quality is fantastic across the board and this will exist as a memory of my preparatory steps towards my goal.

How to study for an online class

With online classes becoming more popular than ever, here are ten suggestions to help you adjust with confidence and ace your courses from home.

Online classes are super convenient, with seemingly endless resources and options for learning at your own pace. Plus, you only have to dress nicely from the waist up for lecture calls! But it can be a struggle, too.

Online classes require a lot of self-discipline, which is extra hard when you consider the number of online distractions out there. But that doesn’t mean you can’t succeed in — and even enjoy! — online classes.

Here are some suggestions of what you can do to make online schooling work for you.

1. Make Your Own Study Space

Having a separate space for schoolwork helps put you in a mindset that’ll keep you motivated to continue taking classes. It also creates a place where school stress can stay put once you’re finished for the day.

Make your study space exciting. Make it comfortable. Make it a place where you can completely focus on what you’re doing.

2. Participate Early, Participate Often

While participating in online classes is different than in-person, it’s still important for effective learning. If you’re nervous about speaking up in class, comment in the chat or offer to host a study group outside of class. There are probably more students than you think who feel the same as you.

3. Take Handwritten Notes

Research shows that writing notes by hand helps you recall information easier. Try keeping your laptop or computer at a distance while listening to lectures with a notebook in hand. Draw diagrams and charts to help you visualize information, and make sure to rotate highlighter colors so it’s easier to identify important information.

4. Don’t Procrastinate

More time to do homework often means more time not to do homework.

It’s easy to put off assignments until the last minute with online classes. Do yourself a favor and get started on assignments as soon as you get them. Set aside a specific amount of time each day to do homework. Use a planner — digital or analog — to keep organized.

After all, more time doing homework means less time panicking about make-up work.

5. Limit Distractions

Put your phone on silent. Don’t open fifteen more browser tabs. Giving a class your full attention now means you won’t have to scramble to teach yourself important information during the last week of the course.

6. Set Aside a Day to Review Your Notes

Don’t wait until the end of the course to review — make one of your study days a review day. Focus on the material you’ve already learned. You’ll solidify your understanding of class material and eliminate the need for cramming before your next exam.

7. Bring Snacks to Keep You Focused

If you’re dreading attending certain lectures, save some favorite snacks to keep you awake and satisfied. Just make sure to mute the mic before you start snackin’.

8. Take a Break

Working and studying all the time can easily overwhelm you if you don’t schedule out breaks for yourself.

Take a walk, play a game, call your friends, read a book, learn a new hobby! Do whatever you need to do to give yourself time to relax your mind, so you’re ready to go for your next class.

9. Sleep

No, not through your classes.

Taking online classes can wreck your sleep schedule. Before you start mentally prepping yourself for your 2:30 a.m. study sessions, make sleep your #1 priority. You’ll feel better, look better, and work better because of it.

10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you feel like you’re struggling with online classes, that’s okay. Teachers understand this. Email your teachers if you’re having a hard time and ask your classmates about how they handle online classes.

Use these tips to navigate your way through online learning with confidence. You can do this!

Are you ready to find a school that’s aligned with your interests?

Online students can work toward degrees from home through synchronous and asynchronous classes. Synchronous courses include set meeting times through technology, such as videoconferencing, while asynchronous classes allow students to access lectures and other course material at their convenience.

Distance programs often give students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. Online learning also allows students to attend top programs in the country without relocating.

However, online learning presents challenges. Learners uncomfortable with technology may experience difficulty navigating online classrooms, posting on discussion forums, submitting assignments, and taking exams.

Coordinating meeting times with professors and peers may be difficult, particularly in asynchronous classes, and candidates may struggle with managing time and limiting distractions while studying. This page provides online class study tips to help learners overcome these and other challenges.

COVID-19 Impact

The COVID-19 outbreak caused most colleges and universities in the U.S. to switch to all-online coursework. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, COVID-19 has altered learning for more than 90% of students internationally the past two years.

Online accounting classes are similar to on-campus courses, allowing students to communicate with professors, watch lectures, and submit assignments online. However, learners lacking access to technology may still struggle. With hybrid learning seemingly here to stay, we rounded up some tips and tricks for online accounting class help.

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Taking Accounting Courses Online

Online college courses can challenge and educate students as much as in-person classes. However, the success of online learning depends largely on the student’s commitment. The lack of supervision means degree-seekers need discipline and self-motivation when studying. Students may also need to reach out for assistance by contacting professors, advisors, or student services. For example, many schools offer online math tutoring that may help accounting students understand course content.

The following section offers help with accounting class online. These tips can help learners stay focused on coursework, build peer and mentoring relationships, and receive support when needed.

Online Accounting Classes Study Tips

Set Up a Workstation

To stay focused, learners can set up a workstation with all relevant supplies, such as a laptop, pens, notepad, textbooks, and calculator. This space can help candidates study online accounting by providing one location for learning, like a classroom. A workstation also makes studying for online classes more convenient, since degree-seekers do not need to leave the area to find materials.

Ask Questions

Studying accounting online involves technology that varies by program. It is okay to not be immediately familiar with your online accounting course’s chosen hybrid learning software.Degree-seekers can contact professors or fellow students by email or forum posts, and schools usually provide additional support services that can answer technical questions. Learners can also contact their advisors for information on topics such as course selection, graduate school applications, and internships.

Manage Your Time

Online learners benefit from schedule flexibility, but without discipline, this freedom can lead to incomplete assignments and poor preparation for exams. Good time-management skills are critical for success. Learners should set aside the appropriate amount of time for each assignment, and use a check-off system to ensure they do not miss required work.

Virtually Network with Peers

You might be learning alone, but you are not truly alone. Use the virtual tools available to connect with classmates. Students can interact with one another through email, discussion posts, and virtual events. Learners can help each other understand course content and provide feedback on assignments. Some courses may require teamwork for projects.

Take Study Breaks

Study breaks are essential to preventing burnout. Students can take study breaks and re-energize through activities like exercise, family time, or television before refocusing on assignments. Learners should add these breaks into time management schedules to encourage strong academic performance.

Consider Using Noise-Canceling Headphones

Studying outside the classroom often comes with noisy distractions. For anyone who studies in a noisy space, noise-canceling headphones are a great option. They can block out distractions, helping learners concentrate on schoolwork. These headphones are particularly helpful for students completing work at coffee shops or other public places.

Additional Resources

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Are you looking to pick up a new skill, but don’t feel like you have the time? Do you want to go back to school but need to take some prereqs or background courses beforehand? Or do you want to change careers? We’ve got the answer for all those problems: online classes.

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Udacity focuses on software development, offering free courses in programming, data science, web development, and other areas of tech like product management, marketing, and cybersecurity. The website also offers a nanodegree program for individuals who want to master a skill set or pursue a full-time career in tech—albeit for a higher price.

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As a coding bootcamp and technical education provider, General Assembly offers both online and in-person classes as well as full-time and part-time options. But these options are a bit pricey. What earns General Assembly a spot on this list is its free workshops—that give you an intro to topics like digital marketing, software engineering, data science and analytics, and design—and Dash, a free basic coding class, all of which can give you a taste of new skills before you commit to a longer course.

Skillshare provides “bite-sized” classes so you can learn something new even if you only have 15 minutes a day. It has more than 27,000 free and premium classes to choose from on topics such as film, writing, tech, visual arts, productivity, and entrepreneurship. Skillshare will give you a free seven-day trial (which is long enough to complete several short classes), and then costs about $14 a month.

Codecademy wants to teach you how to, well, code—often for free. It covers all kinds of programming, including JavaScript, Ruby, HTML, CSS, and Python.

After subscribing to Pluralsight (or using its free trial!), you’ll be able to explore classes in software, 3D development, VFX, design, game design, web design, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and CAD software among other topics.

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Regina Borsellino also contributed writing, reporting, and/or advice to this article.

Below, we have outlined differences that often exist in the way instruction is conducted in the face-to-face vs. online classroom. It is important to understand these differences and take them into consideration when deciding whether or not an online course is a good match for you.

Learning Environment

F2F: The face-to-face classroom can be (but not always is the case) a passive learning environment. In a traditional lecture style class, information is sometimes fed to the student and then passed back to the instructor through written proctored assessments. The environment is also physical. Both student and instructor have the ability to see, hear and pick up on physical cues and body language.

Online: The Online classroom is typically a more active learning environment. Students must work to acquire information. Through interaction and participation, students take an active role in course material and delivery. In an asynchronous online course, there is a challenge in not being able to “see” the instructor or fellow students in real-time exchanges.

Reading Requirements

F2F: Students typically have regular reading assignments from the textbook and other resources provided or referred to by the instructor to supplement material covered in the face-to-face classroom.

Online: As in face-to-face courses, there is typically a textbook from which there are assigned readings as well as supplemental resources provided by the instructor. An online course, however, also requires additional extensive reading not necessarily included in the face-to-face course. Lecture documents, discussion postings, student-to-student and student-to-instructor interactions, course announcements and assignments must all be accomplished in writing and acquired by the student through reading.

Course Pace

F2F: Class meetings occur at a specific time in a specific location according to a set schedule. When in class, the instructor typically sets the pace.

Online: It is up to the student to set their own pace for much of the work that needs to be completed in an online course. While there are deadlines and due dates that must be met, students typically have quite a bit of flexibility in determining where and at what time of day they participate.


F2F: Discussion takes place in the restrictive environment of a physical classroom. The instructor often leads and controls the focus of the discussion to reach a conclusion in a limited amount of time. Since time is limited, responses typically must be formulated quickly. There could also be some intimidation of speaking live in a classroom setting, but there is also the benefit of visual cues of fellow students and the instructor.

Online: Students have more of an opportunity to develop well thought out, researched discussion responses. The students often carry the bulk of the discussion interaction with the instructor acting as a facilitator only interjecting when necessary. The online discussion evolves over a period of time longer than that of the face-to-face classroom (often more than one week) which allows all students in the course to contribute and reach conclusions together.

Exams and Quizzes (Assessments)

F2F: Exams and Quizzes are typically delivered in the face-to-face classroom during regularly scheduled class time. Students are usually monitored during the exam period which is limited to the length of the meeting period.
Review of the assessment typically takes place during a class meeting.

Online: Exams and Quizzes are given online (unless other arrangements have been announced by the instructor in advance). Typically there is a window of opportunity during which a student can begin taking an online exam or quiz, but once started the assessment may be timed. For example… a student may have between Monday and Thursday to take a test, but once they select the “Begin” button, they have 40 minutes to complete the test. It is, therefore, important to study for the Online assessment as you would for the face-to-face version and be fully prepared.
Review of the online assessment takes place online, after the instructor has released the grades. It is up to the instructor which fields are displayed in the feedback, but common review fields include, the question, whether the student got the answer correct or incorrect, the correct answer, comments, and the grade.

Assignments (Dropboxes)

F2F: Homework assignments, research papers, labs, etc. are typically submitted to the instructor in person and in hard copy form in the traditional classroom. Given the dramatic increase in the number of face-to-face courses that utilize online technologies, however, students may be required to submit assignments online in certain face-to-face courses.
Review of the graded assignment often takes place within the physical classroom.

Online: Assignments in online courses are typically submitted through an online dropbox. Depending on the settings chosen by the instructor, the student may have the ability to type directly in a message box, attach a file (or number of files), or submit their assignment multiple times. Dropboxes, like assessments have specific opening and closing dates that students must follow.
Review of graded assignments takes place online. When an instructor grades an online assignment there is the opportunity to provide a grade, feedback remarks, and/or a graded file attachment.

Group work

F2F: Since students are physically located in the same place at the same time, a face-to-face course lends itself nicely to group work. Class time can be used for this collaboration and work can be continued among the students after the class is over through scheduled meetings.

Online: Online courses also often include group work. Instructors have the ability to break their online students up into teams to collaboratively work on projects and interact using the discussion tool. Because most online courses are asynchronous, however, the benefit of being in the same place at the same time does not exist in the online classroom. It is therefore up to each student in the group to keep up with the work involved and do their part.

During these uncertain times many universities are pausing face-to-face teaching and university students are having to take online lectures. For some students this might prove quite a challenge.

It may not be easy to regulate your own studying and to utilise online lectures and seminars to their full potential but here are some ways in which you can do so. This is a general overview for all students, but your university may have specific measures in place so be sure to keep checking your emails and online portal for updates.

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1. Engage with your learning

In the same way you would take notes when attending a lecture, it is a good idea to do the same while listening to or watching an online lecture. Sit in a comfortable place, have a notebook and pen handy and try to keep any other distractions to a minimum.

Take some time to look at your timetable and work out a study schedule to ensure you are well-prepared to attend all your seminars and lectures online. Do the relevant reading beforehand and ask questions if there is anything you aren’t sure about.

2. Coordinate group chats

There are a number of online tools such as Skype or Zoom that you can download for free and enable you to coordinate video chats with groups of people. Use these programs to set up study groups with coursemates so you can spend some time discussing ideas, analysing texts together and swapping study tips.


This is a great way to keep in touch with other students in your class, and for making sure you are maintaining the collaborative aspect of your university course. It also helps to add some social contact so you don’t feel too isolated studying alone.

Ensure that you plan what you are discussing beforehand and try to stick to the topic so that the discussion remains productive and you don’t get distracted chatting about other things.

3. Keep in touch with your tutor and lecturers

You may no longer be able see your tutors during their regular office hours, but ensure that you keep in contact with them on a regular basis. Perhaps an email once a week or even every few days to ensure you are of any developments in your courses. Additionally, if you are feeling anxious or stressed, speaking to your tutor could help to alleviate any concerns you might have.

Also remember to keep in touch with lecturers and seminar leaders to ensure that you have up-to-date reading lists and are looking in the correct places for lecture notes and slides. Don’t hesitate to get in contact if you have any concerns about your learning, but be patient when expecting a response. Your tutors are probably under immense pressure to prepare lectures for online delivery so give them time to get back to you.

4. Ensure you have all the right tools to study


Online lectures will require a fairly well-functioning computer and a good internet connection. Some students already own these things but if you don’t, speak to your tutor or your student services office about how this can be facilitated. There may be spare laptop computers you can borrow, or you could join a small group of other students to study together.

Make sure you have enough stationery (pens, highlighters, notebooks etc) and the correct books or articles to study from, whether hard copies or digital editions.

Check your online portal daily for updates on classes and for any study tools that the university is providing to help you.

5. Think about your work space at home

If you’re used to studying in the campus library, you might find it quite difficult to transition to studying at home for the majority of the time, but there a few things that you can do to get yourself in the working mindset.

First, identify an area where you can sit and work. Some students are lucky enough to have a desk but if you don’t, any surface where you can sit comfortably with your laptop and notes is good enough. Then ensure you keep all the things you need nearby so that you don’t have to keep getting up.

Many universities around the world have kept their libraries open, so this could be an option, but try not to get too close to your fellow students. It is also important to stick to the latest guidelines about leaving your house in the country you’re in, so be sure to check whether this is something you are allowed to do.


6. Take regular breaks

This is common advice but it is now more important than ever when you are studying in your living space. You don’t have to stick to a 9-5 schedule if that doesn’t work for you, but identify the hours you are most productive and centre your work day around that.

Taking regular breaks during the day keeps your mind fresh and is one of the easiest ways to ensure you don’t burn out. Step away from your laptop every hour or so and do something you enjoy, whether it’s reading a chapter of your book, watching a little TV or playing a game. Try to get out at least once a day for a walk (if you are able to) and give yourself things to look forward to each day.

It is also important to have a clear cut-off point when you finish studying for the day. Pack up your study materials at the end of the day if you can, so that you can relax properly for the evening without your books staring at you.

Two key advantages of online learning are flexibility and convenience. But online learning is a lot more challenging than it may seem.

Are you considering taking some or all of your courses online? Good for you!

But first, make sure you’re ready to succeed. Online learning can sound so wonderful that some students start with an unrealistic vision. In reality, online courses require just as much, if not more, time and energy as traditional classroom courses. It also requires specific computer skills and learning strategies in order to succeed.

To see if you’re ready, see how many items of the following skills you have:

1. Persistence

Persistence is perhaps the biggest key to success in online learning. Students who succeed are those who are willing to tolerate technical problems, seek help when needed, work daily on every class, and persist through challenges.

  • When you run into a challenge, keep trying and ask for help.
  • Set up a manageable study schedule for yourself and stick to it. Students who succeed are those who log in and make progress every day. This is especially important after the novelty of going to school online starts to wear off!

2. Effective Time-Management Skills

You must be able to manage your time well. Most courses are not taught in real time. There are no set times for classes.

This flexibility is one of the great benefits of online learning. It can also be a drawback for a student who procrastinates, is unable to stick to a routine study schedule, or is not able to complete assignments without daily reminders from a teacher.

Effective time-management skills don’t just happen. They have to be learned. Once you do, they will benefit you throughout your life. Follow the tips below to develop yours:

  • Review the syllabus for each of your courses. Develop a long-term plan for completing your major assignments.
  • Make a daily “To Do” list. Have fun checking things off the list as you complete them.

It takes time to develop good habits, but you’ll gain satisfaction from being well-organized and accomplishing your tasks.

3. Effective and Appropriate Communication Skills

Communication skills are vital in online learning because students must seek help when they need it. Teachers are willing to help students, but they are unable to pick up on non-verbal cues, such as a look of confusion on a student’s face. Follow these tips:

Use the tools provided by the school to communicate with your teachers. Many online schools and programs provide several ways for students and/or parents to communicate with teachers and staff. These might include e-mail, discussion groups, chat room office hours, cell phones, and even text messaging. Teachers and staff want to help you to succeed in your classes and will answer your questions. It may feel awkward to talk with your teachers this way, but don’t worry. If your teacher has chat room or cell phone office hours, don’t be shy about using those tools to communicate with your teacher.

Use appropriate style and language for school. When communicating with teachers and other staff, you should write in full, grammatically correct sentences and with a respectful tone. Many students are used to a very informal style of writing in chat rooms, blogs, text messages, and so forth.

Because of the distance, it’s tempting for some students to say things out of anger or frustration that they would never say to a teacher in person. Online teachers are professionals. Treat them with respect and courtesy.

4. Basic Technical Skills

Online learners need basic technical skills to succeed. These include the ability to create new documents, use a word processing program, navigate the Internet, and download software.

Most online schools have new student orientation programs. These teach students how to use the school’s learning management system and other online tools, but they typically don’t cover the basics.

If you lack basic computer skills, you may want to find an online tutorial such as the one available through The Library Network.

You’ll also want to check the online school’s main website for their hardware and software requirements. Make sure your own computer meets those requirements.

5. Reading and Writing Skills

Reading and writing are the main ways you’ll communicate in an online class. Although some hard copies of textbooks might be required, you should be comfortable reading a lot of documents on a computer screen and able to type.

Some tests and quizzes have multiple choice questions, but many of your assignments will involve writing short or long answers.

If you type less than 25-30 words per minute, it may be worth completing a typing software program before beginning online classes.

6. Motivation and Independence

To be successful, an online student has to want to succeed. Online learning requires independence, internal motivation, responsibility, and a certain level of maturity.

Have you given some thought to your own personal reasons for attending school?

Are you determined and self-motivated to succeed in school?

There are many worthwhile reasons to work hard in school. You might want a greater level of personal satisfaction with your future career. Or perhaps it’s personal pride in your accomplishments. Or maybe you are seeking a wider range of opportunities available to you with higher education or a higher income.

7. A Good Study Environment

Another critical component of academic success is a good study environment.

A world-class education has never been so attainable. Our online courses offer the ultimate in flexibility, and are accessible anywhere as long as you have an internet connection. You’ll graduate with the same qualification as an on-campus student, and gain future-proofed skills that will prepare you to excel in the workforce.

Future-focused tools and skills

Studying online gives you the tools and mindset needed to thrive in a digitally connected economy. You’ll be prepared to join a global workforce, ready for the challenges of remote collaboration and problem solving.

Explore New Possibilities

Study in an interactive virtual classroom purpose-built for online learners. Log in at your convenience, and use discussion boards in each of your units to engage with expert tutors and your fellow classmates.

World-class education

Monash is ranked in the top 1 per cent of universities globally, and you’ll learn from the minds that helped us get there. You’ll graduate from a Group of Eight university as a well-rounded professional ready to tackle the big challenges of our time. If you aim to make an impact, Monash will help you do it.

Flexible online study

Courses are delivered 100 per cent online in six, six-week teaching periods, allowing you to focus on one unit at a time. Complete your graduate qualification when and where it suits you with coursework and assessments designed to fit around your busy lifestyle.

Online Student Hub

The Student Hub is the place for you to manage your course and access study resources and support services. The Hub is unique to you, and on your Dashboard you’ll find personalised messaging alerting you to any outstanding tasks and key dates as you progress through your course.

Career support after your study

It’s great to be a Monash graduate, wi th Times Higher Education ranking Monash as one of the top Australian universities for employability in 2019. You’ll have access to advisers, coaches and training to help boost your career and get the most out of your Monash degree.

Online education, also known as distance learning, has risen in popularity over the last two decades. In fact, the number of students taking at least one online college course has increased each consecutive year since 2002 — and at a greater rate than higher education enrollment overall.

Now, amidst a global pandemic, many colleges and universities are ramping up their online course offerings. And as we approach a new academic year, many college students — both existing and new — may be wondering, “Which class structure is best for me?”

Perhaps you’ve gotten a taste of online learning during the COVID-19 quarantine. Maybe you struggled with time management or self-motivation along the way. Or, maybe you excelled in the comfort of your own home, and enjoyed working at your own pace. Perhaps you fell somewhere in the middle, enjoying aspects of online classes while missing the in-person, on-campus experience.

Everyone has different experiences with online and traditional classes, and everyone will have their own preference when it comes to earning a degree. Both paths have pros and cons, and both are valued by modern employers across the industries.

Online vs. Traditional Class Considerations

According to recent research, more than 75 percent of academic leaders feel that online education is equal or superior to on-campus learning. Almost 70 percent of chief academic officers believe online learning is a critical component of long-term educational strategies. It’s no wonder why.

There are many benefits of taking classes online. Online programs make a college degree more accessible for many students — particularly those who are working full-time, who have family obligations, and/or who live far from the college campus. Online classes also give students more autonomy over their learning, and allow them to work at an individualized pace.

However, are online classes right for everyone? Today, about 1 in every 4 students claim that they learn better via online classes. This means that 3 out of 4 students still feel they perform better in a traditional classroom setting.

When weighing online classes vs. traditional classes, it is most important to consider your own unique learning style and scheduling needs. Below, we break down three of the top considerations for choosing between online classes and traditional classes on-campus.

1. Class Flexibility

One of the obvious benefits of online classes is the level of flexibility you get. You can continue working, running the household, and take classes all at once. While online students receive deadlines, there is more flexibility around what their day — they can choose when will study, complete assignments, listen to lectures, and more.

With a traditional class format, there is often a lack of flexibility. You must attend your classes in person, meaning there is usually a commute and strict scheduling involved. However, there are still flexible class options out there. If you prefer to take classes on-campus, you can find a school that will allow you to create a customized schedule that works around your needs (like Goodwin).

2. Self-Discipline

As noted above, taking college classes online gives students more independence and control over their education. This, in turn, requires great self-discipline and self-motivation. In an online program, you must be able to motivate yourself to complete required reading and assignments. You must hold yourself accountable for these tasks. You must know how to manage and regulate your time. While these skills are required in traditional class settings as well, your success in an online program will be dependent on your ability to self-motivate and get things done.

If you feel as though you work well independently, and can balance your schedule, online classes may be for you. However, if you struggle with keeping pace in an online curriculum, you may benefit from a more traditional setting. Keep in mind, online learning takes time to get used to! There are many strategies you can implement to ease into online classes, such as establishing a routine and setting up a dedicated workspace. Get tips for successful online studies.

3. Social Interactions

Many people crave the traditional college experience, which might involve dorm rooms, smart boards, and exploring campus grounds. Some people enjoy meeting with their professors and peers in person, or learn better in a face-to-face setting. If you are a more social learner, you may benefit from a traditional classroom model. However, you may not want to dismiss your online options.

One misconception around online coursework is that it requires no interaction. In reality, your peers and professors are right at your fingertips! Online college classes often utilize collaborative resources (such as Blackboard and video conferencing tools) to encourage regular communications, discussions, and brainstorms.

Hybrid Online and Traditional Classes: Are they an Option for You?

If you are still unsure whether online classes or traditional classes are right for you, you may consider both. (Yes, this is an option!) Some higher ed institutions, such as Goodwin University, offer a blended or “hybrid” format for students needing flexibility. This means that some college classes are offered on-campus, while others can be taken online. All classes, no matter the format, count towards your degree.

Hybrid degree programs allow students to get the best of both worlds. Online resources are readily available to students, supplementing traditional instruction (rather than replacing it). Students can meet with professors in person, collaborate with peers in class, and still benefit from the flexibility of online classes. And, research shows they work. As reported in one study, students (at nearly all levels of achievement) do just as well in hybrid classes as they do in traditional classrooms.

Goodwin University is a private, accredited, career-focused university offering on-campus, online, and hybrid learning experiences for students. To learn about our flexible degree programs, or to request more information, please call 800-889-3282. You may also contact us online.

Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.