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How to Excel as an Online Learner

March 1, 2021 | Heather Fletcher

student typing on a laptop

Most of us have found ourselves at home more often as we practice social distancing due to COVID-19. If you’ve considered using this extra time to delve into topics that you have always been interested in, you are not alone. Shifting your energy towards investing in yourself through online learning has never been easier. Whether you are new to online learning or are looking to dive right into virtual courses, be sure to practice these simple steps for online learning success.

Set Goals
Start with a vision of what you hope to accomplish after your career training, skill development or personal enrichment course. Where do these new skills fit into your future and what will you do with them? Not only will this allow you to set goals that get you there but it provides motivation to help you succeed. Write your goals and motivations down and refer back to them often. Documenting helps you better define what you hope to achieve and increases your chances of success.

Create a Dedicated Workspace
It can be easy to underestimate the power of your environment. While working on the couch with your laptop may be comfortable, consider if you are truly being most productive that way. Not everyone will have a dedicated office space, but try to designate at least one space in your home that is quiet and conducive to studying. Make the space one that inspires you to do high-quality work and be sure that you have everything you need when preparing to learn. From necessary course materials to a full glass of water, arm yourself with the tools you need to do your best work.

Begin Course Work Early
In an online course, especially if it is self-paced, it can be easy to put off course work. Expect that you will encounter hurdles while learning in a non-traditional environment and leave yourself appropriate time to overcome them. Beginning your work early will keep you from falling behind and will allow your instructors a reasonable timeframe to answer any questions you may have about your work. Plus, technical difficulties like lagging internet or computer troubles will inevitably happen. The last thing you want is technology to fail when trying to submit an assignment at the last minute.

Use Strategies to Stay Productive
The best thing about remote learning is the flexibility and freedom it allows. However, it’s important to be realistic about your time and stick to a consistent schedule that works for you. Structuring routines and healthy habits into your day will increase your productivity and help keep you on track.

Stay Connected and Participate Regularly
Online learning can get boring when approached as a solitary journey, but feeling like a part of a learning community can help. Regular participation is important to cultivating a quality online experience. Reach out to other students on discussion boards, and keep conversations going via email, video call or messaging apps. Use your instructor as a resource and don’t hesitate to ask questions.

Whether you plan to enrich your personal life with new skills or invest in your professional skill set for future advancement, UWF Continuing Education offers professional and personal development courses and programs that make it convenient for you to upskill your life and use this time of isolation productively.


Not sure where to begin?
Our Student Support Center is committed to helping you achieve your goals and available to guide you along the way. Email us at