Having the right work environment for taking an online class is important. As an online student, it’s imperative that you manage your time wisely and keep organized. The educational environment is just as important for an online course as it is for a traditional on-campus class.

Why Your Environment Matters

Many students mistakenly believe that online classes are easier than classes taken in the classroom. While you don’t have to report for class at scheduled times, you still have responsibilities when taking online courses. Because you don’t have close, face-to-face contact with an instructor and are expected to complete your work independently, it can be easier for students to feel isolated and fall behind in online courses, according to The New York Times. That’s why you’ll need to keep organized.

Setting Up Your Environment

Obviously, your work environment must include a computer that can access the Internet. You will also need any textbooks for your online course as well as other required course materials. If possible, work at a desk or table, and keep the clutter on your working surface to a minimum.

If you can, dedicate a separate workspace to completing your online coursework. However, if you can’t do that, you can still create a productive workspace. Keep your space free of distractions by turning off televisions. If some amount of noise helps you work, consider listening to music through headphones. Though your first instinct may be to multitask, remember that completing your coursework successfully requires your full attention.

Keeping Organized

Only you know what methods of organization work best for you. If you prefer printed documents to on-screen ones, print out your assignments and readings, highlight important information, and keep them neatly filed. Color-coding and alphabetizing folders can be helpful. For students who prefer to do all of their work on the computer, take advantage of tools that let you edit and take notes on files. No matter how you work best, make sure that you always back up your assignments in case you experience computer problems.

Procrastination is a major pitfall for students in online courses, so it’s important to keep yourself on schedule. If possible, plan set study times, and stick to them as closely as you would follow required class times in a traditional course. Pay attention to your syllabus and class schedule as well as any communications with your professor. Add course due dates to a printed or digital calendar, and schedule times to complete the coursework in advance whenever possible, so you won’t be rushing to meet deadlines. If you think it will help you, consider keeping track of your schedule in a day planner.
Online courses are often more difficult than students expect them to be. By creating the right work environment for yourself and sticking to a schedule, you are giving yourself every opportunity to avoid common mistakes and succeed in your online college career.