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Syracuse University Libraries

Resources for Online & Distance Students: Online Learning Strategies

Learn how to access SU Libraries resources, services, and support when you're away from campus and make the most of your online learning

Learning Strategies for Online and Distance Learning

Online classes can present new and unexpected challenges, and it's important that students develop learning strategies that work best for their own learning style preferences, for the online technologies, and for the course setup and requirements. Here are a few tips for helping make the most out of your online learning: 

  • Understand the terminology used for online learning. Do you have a grasp, for example, on the difference between synchronous and asynchronous learning? 
  • Get comfortable with the technology. When the course first begins, spend some time exploring the course website to learn how the instructor has organized the course materials and to discover any resources that might be hidden on the course website. 
  • Get to know your faculty member and your classmates. One method could be to introduce yourself and learn about others in an online class discussion board.
  • Ask questions. Often we assume that others know why we did something or can read between the lines. However, that is not always the case. Asking questions helps clarify any concerns, as well as assumptions.
  • ​Learn how you best learn online. You can do this by reflecting on your online experiences and learning style to help develop strategies that will help you get the most out of your online learning experiences. 
  • It's helpful to keep in mind that just as many students are new to online learning, many instructors are also new to online teaching. Sharing suggestions or ideas with your instructors about your online learning experience could help instructors improve their online teaching skills and strategies. 
  • Establish good study habits and stick to them. 
  • Stay engaged with the course and the coursework. You might find it helpful to log into the course website several time a week, if not daily, to keep up with the online instruction and discussions. 
  • Respect others' opinions. Maintaining professionalism and respecting others' opinions as you work with your peers is of utmost importance. Even if you totally disagree, it is important that you respect and tolerate your peers' opinions.

Sources

Bongiovanni, T. (2012, March 9). Five tips for making online study work. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/college-inc/post/five-tips-for-making-online-study-work/2012/03/09/gIQAmGFH1R_blog.html

Cho, M., & Heron, M. L. (2015). Self-regulated learning: The role of motivation, emotion, and use of learning strategies in students' learning experiences in a self-paced online mathematics course. Distance Education, 36(1), 80-99. 10.1080/01587919.2015.1019963

Globokar, J. L. (2010). Introduction to online learning: A guide for students. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

MacDonald, J., & Creanor, L. (2010). Learning with online and mobile technologies: A student survival guide. Burlington, VT: Gower.

Milman, N. B. (2014). Working in groups online: Suggested tips for success. Distance Learning, 11(4), 5.

Simonson, M. (2015). Don't tell them: The top 10 tips for student success in online courses. Distance Learning, 12(1), 17.

Image of people standing on globe, holding hands

What Do We Know about Online Learning?

"Many students initially feel a bit apprehensive as they enter their first term of online classes, experiencing some combination of fear and excitement. Those who are returning after an extended period of time away from formal education, or those who plan to juggle their schooling with other responsibilities, may be particularly nervous. They may have concerns about navigating the online classroom, keeping up with the workload, or dedicating the necessary time to their coursework. The good news is that this initial apprehension is entirely normal" (p.3). 

Globokar, J. L. (2010). Introduction to online learning: A guide for students. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.


"Aside from commuting time, online students have reported that they actually dedicate more time to online courses each week than traditional courses. This may be due to the high expectation for active participation that is common to online courses, or the additional demands of learning course material without the benefit of live meeting times" (p. 8).

Globokar, J. L. (2010). Introduction to online learning: A guide for students. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.


"The purpose of this study was to examine the role of the subcomponents of SRL in students’ learning experiences in remedial self-paced online mathematics courses. We found that motivational and emotional variables significantly predicted students’ achievement and satisfaction; whereas cognitive strategies did not predict achievement and satisfaction. More specifically, our study results demonstrate that only motivation – in particular self-efficacy for learning – significantly contributed to explaining 11.9% of the variance in achievement. The finding supports the social cognitive view of learning that self-efficacy is a strong predictor of student achievement."

Cho, M., & Heron, M. L. (2015). Self-regulated learning: The role of motivation, emotion, and use of learning strategies in students' learning experiences in a self-paced online mathematics course. Distance Education, 36(1), 80-99. 10.1080/01587919.2015.1019963