Skip to main content
Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

Online learning

Transitioning from the traditional classroom to online learning is no easy task – especially if students have never taken an online course. Many university students are accustomed to working independently, but online courses take self-directed learning to a whole new level. Although it may be a newer method of learning, taking courses online can actually benefit the average student in many ways. For one, it can be less intensive because students have the choice to work at their own pace. It also helps improve self-discipline, which is sure to translate to other areas of life. Plus, students can work from the comfort of their couch!

 

These helpful tips for success can help you prepare for an online learning environment:

Create a routine 

Try to wake up at the same time each day, regardless if a class is scheduled that day. Take the time to eat a healthily breakfast, get some exercise, and take a shower. Doing these things will help with a healthy state of mind and provide the ability to focus on schoolwork.  Always prioritize sleep; get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.     

Create daily to-do lists  

One option to stay organized is to create to-do lists. Many students love to use virtual sticky notes on their electronic devices.  Each sticky note can be a different colour to represent a different course. Once a task is completed, cross it off or delete it. Update your to-do lists each day.    

Take breaks

Taking breaks is important for the mind and body. Taking a break from studying allows the information to digest and process into the long term memory.  When the break is over, try testing yourself using retrieval practice from the "Study Strategies" page. Retrieval practice allows students to know if they really understand the information that was being studied.  When taking a break, be intentional with the time.  Get a drink, go the bathroom, grab a snack, stretch and get back to work.  Try not to turn on the TV or play video games. Breaks should be short, and it is hard to turn off the TV during a show.  A general rule is for every hour spent studying, take a 10-15 minute break.  After studying for 2 hours, take a longer break, around 30 minutes.  Another great timed method of studying is the Pomodoro Technique.   
  

Find your learning community 

Working from home can feel a bit lonely at times., but remember that there is still a strong sense of community at Ontario Tech University.  Reach out to your professor and/or TA when you need help during their virtual office hours (times will be listed on the course syllabus), have online meet-ups with peers, and create study groups using Google Meet or Zoom.  In addition, the Student Learning Centre has workshops and PASS sessions available to learn course content while providing an opportunity to meet new friends.  Remember to turn on your webcam and microphone to help build a stronger connection with peers and staff.

Use tech tools 

Embrace technology. If a course requires special applications or software, download them during the first week of classes. Watch online tutorials when you are unfamiliar with certain software.  Practice using Canvas prior to the first day of classes and check Canvas daily. If you need technical support, visit the Canvas support page or call IT services at 905-721-8668, ext. 3333.

Test your technology  

Before each lecture, ensure your laptop or device is fully charged, or have it plugged in to an electrical outlet.  Don't always rely on Wi-Fi, plug your laptop into an ethernet cable if possible. Turn off the webcam if the internet connection is unstable.

Use your syllabus  

Course syllabi are full of great information. Take the time to read through every course syllabus.  The course syllabus contains professor and TA contact information, course outlines, and the weight of each assignment/test/exam. It also contains the learning outcomes for the course that can be turned into questions for students to test themselves on the content.

Record your lectures 

Record lectures with permission of the course professor. Take notes of important information.  If a recorded video is available at a later time, try to work through the problems during the live lecture and participate by asking questions or solving problems. At a later point, watch the recorded lecture, create summary notes, flash cards or concept maps, or test your knowledge of the content.

Back up your work 

Using the cloud, Google Drive or an external hard drive, back up your work so nothing will be lost. There is nothing worse than working hard on a huge assignment and losing it due to a computer virus or glitch.  There is no guarantee a professor will give an extension.

Practice lab work when possible 

If you are watching a lab live, ask to record the session.  Even if students do not have all the equipment, try to follow along by doing the hand motions for the lab. Doing the hand motions helps with muscle memory.  At the end of the lab, write out procedural steps or summary notes of processes learned.  Another option is to draw out a process.

 

References: 

Pappas, Christopher (2015).  Getting The Most Out Of Your eLearning Course: 10 Study Tips for Online Learners. Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/10-study-tips-for-online-learners-getting-the-most-out-of-your-elearning-course

Northeastern University (2020). Tips For Taking Online Classes: 8 Strategies For Success. Retrieved from https://www.northeastern.edu/graduate/blog/tips-for-taking-online-classes/

Joyce, Liz (2020). Tips For Successful Online Learning. Retrieved from https://blog.edx.org/tips-for-successful-online-learning/

Self-awareness and Online Learning

These are some traits that differentiate in-person learning from online learning environments: 

In-person

  • Structured  
  • Face-to-face interaction  
  • Networking opportunities with professors and other students 
  • Strong sense of belonging and community  

Online

  • Synchronous (live) and asynchronous (self-directed)  
  • Flexible study schedule
  • Log in from anywhere 
  • No commute 
  • Work more while attending school 
  • Better work/school/home/life balance  

 

When it comes to managing your classes online, here are some helpful tips to be self-aware of your time and motivation: 

All online classes are different   

Not all online classes are the same. Attend every class, and follow the instructions of each professor for their particular class.  

Self-care  

Integrate self-care into your daily and/or weekly routine.  Many students practice mindfulness meditation, exercise, bake, take a bath or watch a TV show to relax. Taking care of the mind is just as important as taking care of the body.  Taking breaks and practicing self-care is important to help manage stress and anxiety.   

Stay motivated  

Take the time to reward yourself.  After a long week of studying and submitting labs or assignments, treat yourself. Do something that makes you happy and feel positive. After a midterm or final exam, always take some time to reward your hard work.  Reward yourself after challenging or stressful times, such as a midterm, to ensure your mind associates these times with positivity.

 

 

References:

Pappas, Christopher (2015).  Getting The Most Out Of Your eLearning Course: 10 Study Tips for Online Learners. Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/10-study-tips-for-online-learners-getting-the-most-out-of-your-elearning-course

Managing Online Learning

Here are some tips to help you to manage your time in an online environment: 

Treat online courses the same as in-person courses   

If a professor has pre-recorded lectures and students find themselves falling behind, they can take back control of the situation and set up a schedule. Plan blocks of time to watch lecture videos and review the textbook. Once students know what needs to be done, they should start each day with a daily task list. If students need accountability, they should find a partner and email their to-do lists to each other every day.  


Create a designated study space
  

Create a clean, organized, and quiet study space.  When living with family or roommates, let them know a study session is about to begin and you would appreciate if there were no disruptions during the scheduled time.  Hanging a note on your bedroom door that says "studying in progress" is one great suggestion.   You can hang your calendar and/or study plans in your designated study space to keep you motivated and on track.


Set goals

Raise your hand if you are a procrastinator!

Most people procrastinate in some way.  Setting intentional SMART goals can help avoid procrastination. A goal without a deadline can be put off indefinitely. It is important to break down goals into small, manageable tasks. Always write goals down on paper or create an electronic to-do list. Build accountability by creating deadlines and consequences. If the deadline was not met, enforce a consequence such as not being able to go out with friends until the work is completed.  Always reward progress. Rewards can be big or small.  If you have studied for two hours, take a break, make a tea and grab a small treat!  If a 10-page final paper has been submitted, go out with friends, see a movie, or play video games with friends.  


Participate on the discussion board  

Introduce yourself to your classmates. Try to participate in the discussion board as much as possible.  It can be difficult to process the tone of voice in written text, so please be kind to your peers.  

 

 

References:

Pappas, Christopher (2015).  Getting The Most Out Of Your eLearning Course: 10 Study Tips for Online Learners. Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/10-study-tips-for-online-learners-getting-the-most-out-of-your-elearning-course

Northeastern University (2020). Tips For Taking Online Classes: 8 Strategies For Success. Retrieved from https://www.northeastern.edu/graduate/blog/tips-for-taking-online-classes/

Ontario Tech: Learning with Canvas
Check out Ontario Tech’s support page for Canvas, our course management system. At this link you will find video tutorials for using Canvas.

Online Classes: A Survival Guide
Practical tips for being just as successful in your online classes as you are in your in-person ones. Thomas Frank, College Info Geek.

Working from Home: How to Set Up Your Workspace
How to effectively work (and learn) from home. Thomas Frank, College Info Geek.

Working from Home: How to Plan Your Day
How to make useful plans, both on a daily basis and over the longer term working from home. Thomas Frank, College Info Geek.

Working from Home: How to Stay Focused
How to stop procrastinating, pick a task, and stay focused on it while working from home. Thomas Frank, College Info Geek.

3 habits for better work-life balance
How to achieve work/life balance while working from home. Thomas Frank, College Info Geek.

Study Tips to Succeed as an Online Student
This two-minute video from the Centre for Innovation at Leiden University has some helpful tips on how to succeed in an online environment at university.

COVID-19 Tips from Teddy - Innovative Educators
This one-minute video provides tips for how to stay safe.

Online Classes: A Survival Guide
This 12-minute video provides great tips for preparing for and navigating online classes.

Planning for Online Learning and Work - worksheet
This open educational resource from Flynn Research Group can help you organize your time and plan for success when online learning.