Best Study Habits for Online Education

There are many advantages to online education, convenience being one of the most obvious benefits. Online learning has created a very different learning environment and changed the face of education. However, not everyone has realized how study habits must also be adjusted.

Traditional vs. Online Learning Environments

Students in classrooms expect to experience lectures and take notes for most classes. In that environment, students focus on learning as much as possible from instructors and professors. Dialog in the classroom is usually between instructors and students, with open conversations taking place from time to time.

In contrast, the online learning process includes the student community as they reflect upon course material and share thoughts with others. The online instructor usually takes on the role of a guide or facilitator. In online classes, all students are in the front row and actively participate in every aspect of the class, because it is necessary in this type of environment.

Attendance Requirements

Filmmaker Woody Allen once said “Ninety percent of success is just showing up.” Dedication and accountability are even more important for online classes. Understanding what the attendance and check in requirements are for each online class is very important, as they may differ.

Usually, students are required to connect and submit meaningful notes for at least five days of the week. This requirement is to emphasize the importance of involvement and participation. Since this activity can be done in ten or less minutes, it is easy to adapt to.


To be successful at online learning, students must prepare adequately for classes in order to participate. Student evaluation is based upon involvement on a daily basis, as opposed to single events such as major research papers or final examinations.

Productive online learners must be creatively and actively engaged in this different learning process. This requires a deeper sense of accountability since self-discipline is key, along with a high level of motivation to learn.

Online students must be able to work on their own, while also demonstrating to others excellent thinking, observation and reflection skills. Also, prepare to take notes just as you would in regular classes.

College Level Studies

Online programs are based upon college-level work. Even though much of the newsgroup and email activity can be casual so that grammar and spelling are not big issues, students must spell words correctly and use proper grammar in notes and discussions, as well as assignments.

Prior to submitting any written material, students should re-read them thoroughly and make adjustments as necessary. Using a spell checker religiously can help a great deal. In addition, should formatting be required, consult the MLA or other designated handbook. Employing these techniques will help to catch unclear thoughts and missed words.

Time Management

While online classes offer great flexibility, they still require the same amount of time as traditional classes, less travel time. Normal three semester credit classes require 2100 minutes, which is equal to 35 hours of in-class time.

Students should plan on preparing by reading, studying and completing assignments at least two hours for each one hour class. That amounts to 105 total hours (35 plus 70) for each course. On-campus classes spread the time out over an 11 week period or more, amounting to around 8 to 10 hours weekly for each class.


Students should schedule 4 to 5 hours for two days each week or more, to prepare, research and complete assignments. Additionally, students should also plan on spending an hour or more to respond to notes. Scheduling online learning tasks is critical in order to keep to a schedule and develop the best habits.

To ensure that all deadlines and requirements are met, keep a calendar, both online and off as backup. Routinely check the calendar for upcoming assignments and schedule in the time it will take to complete those, as well.

Maintain the Pace

Intensive online classes generally run for around six weeks. For these classes, it is crucial that students do not fall behind schedule. Reading ahead and turning all assignments in on time is the best strategy.

If it is anticipated that an assignment will be late, focus on getting the next assignment in on schedule, rather than developing a late pattern for the duration. When time is available, return back to the missed assignment, complete and submit it.

Address Issues Immediately

If any issues arise concerning understanding the materials or meeting the requirements, contact instructors and faculty as soon as possible. They can help you devise a strategy to solve any issues that may occur and keep on track to successful completion.