Study Skills for Online Education

Completing an online education with the results you want is challenging. Make the most of this experience by learning how to use your online tools and develop strong study habits. Try the following tips for reading, scheduling, investigating details, checking for updates, and evaluating web resources.

Study Skills


Read all of the materials your teacher posts on the e-learning system. Does this advice seem too obvious? Your teacher posts things you need to know and should not ignore. A thorough review of course materials does not mean skimming the syllabus and assignment sheets and then skipping to the links for submitting your work. Sloppy reading means you might miss something important.

Study Schedule

Create a detailed study schedule for completing various communications and assignments in the online course. This is the part where you highlight the syllabus and note each assignment's due date on your schedule. Your syllabus should include tentative deadlines and general expectations for the course. On the schedule, block out specific times for each activity, i.e. time for reading, time for posting to online discussions, and time for researching and writing assignments. Just like a regular job, use the calendar's specific entries as a guide for completing all course expectations in a timely manner.

The Devil is in the Details

Do you know the detailed requirements for each assignment? Beyond the syllabus, your teacher might post separate descriptions of major assignments. For example, reports and presentations have different deadlines, and each document has unique grading criteria. Print assignment descriptions and save them in a binder with your syllabus, or store assignment details on a separate folder on your computer. Upon finishing an assignment, check it off your schedule or move the assignment description file to a completed folder on your computer.

Check for Regular Updates

Log onto the e-learning system a few times a week: even if your assignments are only due once a week. If your course meets entirely online, the e-learning system is how your teacher will communicate changes in the schedule. Checking in also helps you to catch a note from your teacher if you missed a deadline or need to redo an assignment. Read course emails, look for new discussion posts, and for new documents and assignments that have been added to the main page or specific learning modules.

Evaluating Web Resources

How do you know when to trust information you find on the web? The type of organization that sponsors the web page is your first clue. For example, a website with a URL suffix such as .edu or .org helps you to investigate what kind of educational institution or organization posted the online information. For a report published online (i.e. by, use critical thinking to determine if the information constitutes an official publication or perhaps is the result of a student or faculty project. Complete publication information from a reliable source can be cross-referenced with a Google search for the same information. You can decide if another reliable organization cited the same website. As you use the Internet more for web research, you will start to trust certain sites (i.e. - the website of the U.S. Department of Education).

Online learning systems can create the illusion that e-learning is easier than regular college courses. In the traditional college classroom, students benefit from regular meetings with professors and frequent reminders about due dates. Professors might also explain assignment details in depth. When you work on your degree online, your careful study habits make all of the difference. Make a plan and stick to it. When you focus on the fact that the devil is in the details, you can accomplish everything and earn a solid grade in the course!



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