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4 keys to staying focused and active during online courses


Following up on my previous post with tips for preparing for online law classes, here are some tips for what to do during a distance education session.

During an online class…

1. Use headphones.  It helps.

2.  Take notes actively.  I see many of my students sitting back with the thinking they can aborb class material without taking notes, as if the class is like a TV show.  It’s not (or course).  The best way to keep your brain active and switched on is to take notes during the class, whether it is a synchronous or asynchronous session.  Consider opening a doc on Google and take collaborative notes during class with a friend!

3.    Cameras on; mics off.  If you are taking a synchronous class, turn on your camera and mute your mic.  If the delivery platform has a “raise hand” function, use it!  Push yourself to participate more than you would in an in-person class.

You may be thinking, “I don’t want to turn on my camera. I don’t look my best.”  No one does; I understand.  But turning on the camera is way we say to each other, “We are all in this together.  I’m here for this!”

4.    Be present physically and cognitively.  Concentration for long class sessions online is hard—for some people harder than concentrating in traditional classes. If you are learning asynchronously and can stop the recording to move around every 20 minutes or so, do that. If the class is synchronous, I completely understand if students need to leave the “classroom” for personal reasons. Take care of whatever needs your attention and come back ready to work.