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How to Succeed in an Online Class: Top 3 Best Practices for Students


Learning Bytes Blog - How to Succeed in an Online Class Top 3 Best Practices for StudentsWhen taking computer training, you may be asking how to succeed in an online class if you aren't familiar with a computer to begin with. Not to worry. There are 3 best practices that students can do for themselves to help facilitate career education training online. Mia Gwyn, a fellow New Horizons instructor, helped me expand on these personal practices for your learning environment.

Here are some questions to consider when looking into further career training  programs >>

1. Have a Notebook

I believe that the biggest thing that can make a difference in your learning journey is having a notebook. This is critical to absorbing information. I know it seems rather old-school because everything is online today. But there is something about the process of listening to someone speak and having to sort out the key points and what's really important. Also, the manual dexterity of physically taking pen to paper and writing it down. An ordinary notebook is fine. A composition notebook is fine. There is nothing wrong with taking notes on paper.

Set Aside a Few Blank Pages of Your Notebook

I encourage my students to set aside a few blank pages at the beginning of the notebook. Why?

One of the big challenges that new students have is there's so much new information that they actually get overwhelmed. Remember, you don't have to understand everything the first time. But you may feel like, "I can't remember all of it later."

Write down all the notes you can in the rest of your notebook. But pick 1 thing at the end of a two-hour time frame, or at the first break. Not 4 or 5, maybe 2. But you just pick a couple of things and say, this is something I really want to remember. And maybe it's something as simple as a key-stroke. Sometimes when you have too much information in your notes, you don't remember anything.

Notebook Parking Lot

Mia Gwyn shares that it's beneficial to have a couple of pages that called the "parking lot". Many times you're going to be in the middle of hands-on activity, and you're going to have this question. You definitely want to ask questions sooner than later, but maybe right now is not a good time. But if you wait until the end of the whole activity, you might forget. Jot down a few words to trigger your memory of what you want to ask in the "parking lot" pages. That way, you can remember what you wanted to ask when the time is right.

Also, we have various support systems, like a Help Desk phone number. Having that written down physically can help when, for some reason, you can't get to it digitally. 

Notes for Tests

I know that in traditional schools some teachers are still trying to do the old-fashioned form of testing. They'll say, "Okay, everybody, we're taking a test. Clear your desk. No notes. No books. We're not going to cheat."

Click here to read more about how career education classes are different from traditional schools

But that's not real life. In real life, if your boss asks you to do something, you have Google, you have YouTube, you have your notes. For that reason, I encourage my students to realize that that in real life, you have tools that have answers in them. I want you to know how to use your tools.

In class, I will pause and say "This is something you really need to know. Put a star by this." Mia says "Hint. Hint." And if a teacher says that you need to write it down, there's probably a reason she or he said it. Then, when you have that test or you run into that circumstance on the job, that's the first place you go in your notebook.

2. Create a Learning Environment at Home

You want to actually have an environment conducive to learning. Yes, you can be comfortable, but you also have that formal mindset. For example, if you are using your notebook to write notes, it makes sense to have decent lighting. It's hard to write notes or read your notes if you can't see your notes.

Sit at a Desk

Avoid taking an online class from your couch or your bed because it's harder to stay focused. It's a lot easier nod off to sleep or a nap if you are lounging versus if you're sitting at an official, flat, hard surface, like a table or a desk. You can find small, little foldable desks for $10-$15.

You don't have to go to buy a $300 desk. You can go to your local GoodWill. You could even use a folding table. I've taught many classes on a folding table when I've been traveling.

Have your Screen at Eye Level

If you're working on a laptop, bring your laptop up as close to your eye level as you can. You can put it on top of a stack of books, or a box. But having your laptop lower can hurt your neck and then that makes your back hurt and everything else. This can tire you out while learning.

Click here to read about computer equipment under $100 for online class success.

3. Take Care of Your Body

Your body and mind work together as one. When your mind is learning, your body will feel it. It's important to take care of your body when taking an online career education class. I'm always telling my students that when they go to break, they need to do one minute of squats or jumping Jacks. Your body needs to move and your brain needs that too. 


The number one drink you should have near you during class is water. I know everybody wants to have coffee, but our brains are mostly water. And if you actually stop and think about that, if your brain is feeling foggy and sluggish, it might be because you're dehydrated. And that's the number one thing that you can actually do to wake up is water.

Cold water is going to rehydrate your brain and wake it up better than just regular water.

Best Snacks to Eat During Online Class

It's hard to concentrate and focus when you're hungry. Mia and I can vouch for that ourselves. Have a couple of snacks on hand. Snacks also help some students stay awake. Even just that extra tactile motion and sound can help you stay engaged and focused.

There are certain snacks that are going to be more productive in making your brain engaged. Apple and walnuts are a power mix of foods that are every bit as good as a cup of coffee when you eat them together. Protein bars are great and going to be less likely to make your brain sluggish than chips or crackers. Besides, if you are going to eat Cheetos you might just make the instructor jealous.

Questions to Consider

What can you do going forward? You can rely on what you have learned in your current role and seek a promotion or another job. Or you can acquire new skills that increase your value to your current or future employer.

Education is the key to career advancement, but you don’t need a college degree or MBA to get ahead. IT training and career training are an efficient and proven way to advance your career and acquire new job skills. Ask these questions when considering career training programs.

Looking to further your career? Consider these questions when looking into further career training programs. Download Checklist >>

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