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Online Classes: Tips for Learning Online

Tips for Managing Online Classes

Learn to Learning Online

Learning to Learn Online  

  •  Think back to when you first learned to drive a car or ride a bike, and how unsure and awkward you felt. Then think about how you feeling about that now. You practiced, you got help and support. You don't even think twice about it!
  •    Online learning is similar. You learn a few things, you practice and practice 'til you get it, and like with the car or bike, you'll figure out how to get where you're going!!

Keys to Success - College Student Mindset



  • When you were a high school student, your teachers told you what you needed to know or do, to help you keep on track with your classes.
  • As a college student, whether you attend class in a face-to-face classroom or online, it's your turn to take charge of keeping track of your life as a student.

Instructor role Your role


  • Your instructors are not just teachers but they also have experience and/or advanced degrees in their fields. Their job is to share their knowledge of their subject areas so you can achieve your goals.
  • Keep an eye on that goal as you proceed through your program and think about how what you are learning connects to your goal. It might not be obvious at first, but the connection is there!

  • You are not alone! Yes, college students take charge of their own learning, but all colleges, especially Western, has a team in place you can reach out to you every step of the way.

  • Your job is to understand when you need to consult with someone about how to accomplish a task or assignment.  A good rule of thumb is to give yourself a chance to find the answer or figure things (use the Western website or review your course materials) but when you can't, save your time and energy and reach out to someone on the Western Team.

Make a Plan - After Your Register for Classes


  • Make a plan for your life as a student. Make it flexible enough to accommodate the moments when "life happens," and it will, but you can plan for that, too.
  • Below are some proven strategies to put into practice to get you into the flow of being a college student. Just like learning to ride a bike or drive a car, it will soon become second nature to you.


  • Some simple tools - calendars or planners, notebooks or binders, sticky notes, digital tools, etc. - will help you get organized and stay organized. Writing things down is the best way to remember the things you need to keep track of.
  • Having things written down saves wear and tear on your brain.

Folder and Checklist


  • You had a LOT of information presented to you during the registration process. Who can remember all of that? Once again, write it down or save the links from the Western website. You will want that information at your fingertips when you need it.
  • Use the information to create a checklist of what you need to make happen before classes start.


  • Learn the name of your advisor and remember to reach out if you have more questions after you register at Western. If they can't answer your question, they will know who can!

Make a Plan! - Get Ready Before Classes Start

  • Study SpaceBefore classes start decide where you will study. If you are at home, set up a place that allows you to both be comfortable and stay focused. It can be a desk, sofa, kitchen table, bed, or even the floor. Whatever works best for you!

  • If you do better studying away from home There are a few places on Western campuses (both in La Crosse and at the Regional Learning Centers) where you can study. They are listed on Western's Covid-19 page - Building Access.

Time Management


  • Before classes start, look at your overall schedule. When do you have to work? When do you need to attend to your family? Make a plan to fit your courses and study times into it. 
  • Even setting aside as little as 20-30 minutes each day adds up and will make a huge difference to your success as a student and your stress levels!


  • Your body is a machine. It works better when you fuel it with healthy food, stay hydrated, move it around, and rest and relax it.  A "treat" here and there is no big deal, but on balance, do your body and your brain a favor (as well as your stress levels) and do your best stay healthy.
  • You will thank you!

Make a Plan - When Classes Start!

Calendar and Planner


  • The first week of classes just might be the roughest, SO much to keep track of!!! This is where your organizational tools - calendar, planner, notebooks, etc. - will become your best friend.
  • Don't try to keep everything in your brain. Jot it down!



  • On campus you attend classes in a classroom or lab. Online you attend class in Blackboard.

  • Reach out to the Learning Commons as you are trying to get comfortable with Blackboard. We can help you get through any bumpy roads you might experience.



  • On the first day of classes, the first thing you should do after logging into your course is read the syllabus! Everything you need to know about your class is in the syllabus - readings, homework, due dates. You do not want to be rear-ended by an "unexpected" assignment.

  •  Email your instructor if there is something in the syllabus you don't understand. Get everything cleared up before classes really get going!



  • Create a study plan for yourself. Think about how you learn the best. Note-taking is proven be the most effective way to remember course material. There is no right or wrong way to take notes. They can be messy and words can be misspelled, as long as you know what they say, that's good enough.
  • To jump start your thinking about note-taking, watch one of these videos about how other students take notes.

Building Blocks


  • Each of your courses is a building block for your entire program and your future workplace. For example, if you are in the Nursing program, you may take Anatomy & Physiology your first term and two terms later, in a course called, Complex Health Alterations. 
  • That Intro to Psychology class can be important when you encounter a "difficult' customer in your future workplace.


  • Things are going to go wrong. Plan for it! Your job might drive you nuts, you or your kids get sick, school work takes more time and energy than you planned for or expected. This is normal life and this is the BEST time to reach out. You don't have to do this alone! The first person to reach out to is your instructor, but remember you also have an entire Western Team on your side.
  • Below are a list of Student Support links where you can reach out to members of your Western Team.


Contact Your Learning Commons Team



  Take a Guided Virtual Tour of the Online Learning Commons!                                       


     Reach out early! Don't go it alone!

Western Technical College

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