Tips for tackling your online courses during COVID-19

By Madi Wong

Transitioning from in-person classes to online or alternative formats has been a challenge for us all, especially for those who have never taken an online course. 

We spoke to some students as well as did our own research to provide you with some tips on how to tackle your courses for the remainder of the semester. 

Here are some of our tips. 

Treat it like an in-person class as much as possible

Try to get ready for the day even though you’re staying at home. You may not have to wake up at the break of dawn to commute anymore but you can still change out of your sleeping clothes and do things you usually would as if you were heading down to Ryerson for class. 

When it comes to disciplining yourself, each person will be different. It’s understandable that being at home will come with extra obstacles in comparison to being on campus. 

For this, try and find a spot in your home where you can have your own thinking space to settle down, take out any laptop, textbooks and notepads and focus on your school work. Additionally, and if possible, tell your family or friends when you need to focus and hopefully, they’ll be able to be a bit quieter and mindful of what you need to get done. 

Also, make sure to have some snacks and water on the side as you would in class. This transition can be hard on both our mental and physical state, meaning it’s even more important to take extra care of ourselves.

Connect with your classmates

Not being able to sit beside your friends and whisper during lecture or study together in a coffee shop are probably interactions that the majority of us are missing. 

Luckily, with the power of the internet, we have options like social media, video conferencing and more to help us be connected with classmates for any questions we may have on assignments. 

If you didn’t have one already, make a group chat with people in your class and help each other out with any miscommunication there may have been from your professors or if you need someone to look over your essay. 

Texting might be difficult for certain topics, so hop on a video app like Zoom, FaceTime or Google Hangouts to have a virtual meeting. 

Create or modify an organization system 

Though everyone has different approaches to learning and retaining information, there’s a couple of practices you can try to stay organized until the end of the semester!


  • Use that planner


Do you have an untouched planner you thought you were going to use in the fall semester and gave up on? Now is your time to fill it in properly and see if it helps you sort out your day-to-day schedule.

You can even create your own planner by printing or drawing out what your days will look like each week and keep it handy on your laptop, phone or wall. 


  • Watch those deadlines


If D2L notifications don’t work for you, find another way to write down all of your deadlines in a place where you are bound to see it—because let’s be honest, it’s easy to forget about deadlines, especially if you’re juggling multiple courses at once. 

Whether it be on a whiteboard, some post-it notes, on your phone using a reminders or notes app—make sure you double check all deadlines! Perhaps some got pushed back, maybe you mixed up the days, whatever it may be, make sure you know what’s happening ahead of time. 


  • Set some kind of schedule for yourself


Has anyone else been feeling bored despite knowing they have a ton of work to do? Me too. 

We’re in a strange situation and as another reminder, it is critical to take care of yourself during this. By setting up some kind of schedule that works for you, you can try and allocate an hour-by-hour schedule to allocate any lectures, studying, breaks and workouts into your day. And you’re not an hour-by-hour person, you can always dedicate blocks of time for you to have to yourself—or whatever works for you. 

When you are typing up that essay or trying to get through a reading, try to eliminate any distractions around you: If you don’t want to turn your phone off fully, at least turn off notifications, if there’s noise outside plug in some earphones and crank some low-fi chill beats.For Ryerson specifically, if you are having any trouble accessing D2L, logging on to an online lecture or completing an online quiz or exam, there’s information available on the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching site. 

Additionally, we’ve created an ongoing list of online learning resources for students here

Do you have any fun resources you are exploring? Working on a piece of art, poetry, collage, personal essay or story? Learn more and submit here! We’re creating a digital gallery of responses to COVID-19 on our platforms called (Dis)Connection Stories.