7 Tips from JMU Students to Make the Most of Online Classes

Posted on: September 6, 2020

We know that moving from in-person to online classes can be an adjustment. To help you through this transition, we’ve built a guide to online learning—and collected advice from current JMU students on how to make the most of your online class experience:

Create a space to focus

The top piece of advice from students who’ve been through this before is: find or create a space where you can focus, whether it’s a space where you live, on campus, or somewhere else:

computer and mug

“Find a space where you can concentrate well! When taking classes and doing work online, it is important to have this dedicated space.”

“Make sure to create a space within your home that is for learning and being productive, this really helped me to focus rather than doing work in my bed or around my family.”

“The hardest part of the transition from in person to online classes was finding a designated study space, and once I did, I was more focused and more motivated to complete my work.”

“I won’t sit in my bed for class. It’s either go to my desk or go to another space in my apartment so that I can have that separation and motivation.”

Put away your phone

clean desk with no phone

“Put your phone away!!! Keeping your attention span on a computer is hard but scrolling through Instagram instead of listening will not help when it’s thinking time and you have no notes to reflect on.”

“Being able to watch a virtual lecture from the comfort of your own space is nice, however, you should still treat it as if you were there in person by sitting at a desk, looking presentable, taking notes, and paying attention.”

Make a schedule

person planning their day on paper

“Set a schedule (i.e. shower, get dress, class, workout, homework, etc.) and start work early.”

“By establishing a set study area and study schedule, you are more inclined to focus and get your work done quicker so that you can hang out and do other things.”

“Set out time each day dedicated to that class, just as if you were taking it in person. It keeps you organized and on schedule!”

“Invest money into an agenda and/or use online calendars to have deadlines laid out and prioritize work. I like to make a daily schedule for myself to keep myself on track and sane while taking classes online.”

Put in the time

“Like anything else, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.”

“It may seem easier in theory, but it may require more time.”

person on video chat with three others

Take care of yourself

“Make sure to prioritize your mental and physical health, which really affects your motivation.”

“Take breaks, go off of social media for a while, and make sure to communicate with your professors and classmates/friends.”

Connect with your classmates

“Make video study groups! Don’t be afraid to message someone over Canvas. That’s how I met one of my best friends in college.”

“Make friends in your classes! Yes, it is a little bit more difficult since you are online, however, it’s always good to have a buddy that you can share notes with, discuss content, and study with.”

Ask for help

“After taking some classes online, I have learned how important any sort of meeting with the professor is, whether that me over Zoom call or email.”

“Make sure to reach out if you need help. Your professors are there to help you whether you are in person or online. Most will respond rather quickly through email and some even have virtual office hours.”

“Don’t be afraid to email professors or set up video calls with them because they are there to help you.”

“Any other advice?”

“Check the libraries website first before buying a textbook.”

“Professors are also getting used to the online platform, so there will be times of technical difficulties, or missing links, just be patient with your professors, and email them if a problem occurs.”

“Utilize the learning centers online to help with classes.”

“Don’t be afraid to communicate with your professors, even if you have never met them.”

We’re here for you, Dukes. Ask the Library if you want support with online learning, connecting to library resources from off-campus, finding a space for online learning in the Libraries, or searching for sources for a research assignment.

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