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The Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center


How to Be a
Good Online Learner

How do I manage my time to study online?

Online learning requires learners to be organized and to manage time wisely.

Develop a Study Plan

In order to be successful in your online studies, it is best to make a study plan.  This study plan will help you to determine when, where, and how you will study.  Below are some of the questions that you may want to answer in your study plan:

Your Learning Space

In advance of enrolling in an online course, it is a good idea to set up a learning space.  Make sure that you have all materials and supplies needed, including your computer.  Keep your papers and documents related to the course in this location.  Make sure that it is a comfortable and well-lit space.

Getting Support

It is important for us all to be supported in our learning endeavors whether face-to-face or online.  Before beginning online learning, it is a good idea to approach your family and employer to let them know that you are planning to take an online course.  Let them know how long you will be involved in the course and what you expect from them.

You'll find that getting their support early in the game makes it that much easier for you to be an effective learner.

Managing Your Time

If you have ever spent any amount of time online, you know that time seems to go much faster.  Before you know it, it's been three hours!

One important skill to learning online is learning to manage your time first.

Here is a list of tips for managing your time effectively so that you have time for all the things you want to do.


It's important that you also don't make too rigid a schedule too far in advance. Making a weekly study schedule is one of the most effective ways to keep on top of your studying.  Look at your commitments for the week and plan your study time in the natural breaks.

In addition to completing your weekly assignments, you also have a requirement to respond to your classmates.  Schedule time for this as well.  Learning doesn't occur in a vacuum and everyone needs to participate if excellent, collaborative learning is to take place. Also in the spirit of collaborative learning, you should adhere to the weekly schedule and follow the pace of the course.

Make time for offline activities.  Some online courses require you to complete assignments outside of the virtual classroom.  Make note of these at the beginning of the course and plan accordingly for them.


When we sign up for online learning, we are excited at the beginning but as the weeks progress, motivation can diminish.  When this occurs, remind yourself of the reason you enrolled in the first place.  Realize that you are doing this to improve your teaching skills and to provide better services for your students.  Remind yourself that you can do this.  We ask our students to juggle the stress of learning and working; experiencing this for yourself will also make you more empathetic towards what your students are going through.


You can read more about how to be a good online learner through Alan R. Roper's article, "How Students Develop Online Learning Skills" found at: