Studying online: Student Jennifer Skurka shares her five top tips

Laptop und Schreibutensilien auf einem Tisch
Coronavirus: University life is currently taking place at home. Student Jennifer Skurka has given us her top tips for the online semester. (Image:

Tips for studying successfully during the online semester.

Jennifer Skurka is studying for a teaching degree at FAU. She also has an exciting part-time job at the University, as a research assistant at the Innovation in Learning Institute (ILI). Through her job, she has become an expert in online learning. In this article she shares her five most important tips for studying online.

1. The right attitude counts

Take your online courses as seriously as your normal face-to-face courses. You still have to work as hard as you would for a normal course to gain credits for your degree.

Take responsibility. In normal courses, lecturers, tutors or other students usually remind you about examination dates or deadlines for submitting work. No-one will do this for you in an online course. Make a note of all important dates and information.

2. Preparation is everything

Set up your workspace in a quiet, light and relaxing place. Make sure you have the following:

  • If possible, ensure you have a reliable and fast internet connection.
  • If you need certain software or a specific app for your online course, make sure you download it before the course starts.
  • Know your way around your online learning environment before the course starts. Take a look at which tools and functions it has and learn to use them.
  • Make sure you have all the materials you need such as a notepad and pen within reach.

3. Time management

How can I manage my time effectively?

Plan ahead

Make a note of all the most important deadlines and examination dates: Plan in advance how much time you need for which tasks, depending on the amount of work required. Be sure to include non-university related appointments during which you won’t have time for your online courses and add a small buffer for those days where you lack motivation.

Create a weekly timetable: Write down what you will be working on when and on which day. Put some reminders in your calendar or mobile phone.

Use a countdown timer: Define a certain timeframe for a task and start the next task only when the time is up.

Think about your time management. Ask yourself again and again how much time you devote to courses and tasks. Do I underestimate the time I need for my work? What can I do to prevent myself from panicking in the nights before an exam?

Organise your tasks

Focus on one task at at time. Avoid trying to work on more than one task at a time. The quality of your work improves if you focus on one task at a time.

Create a to-do list that contains your most important tasks so you don’t forget anything. You can use apps like Todoist or Evernote for this.

Avoid procrastination

Put your mobile phone somewhere that is far away from your desk or switch it off until you have finished your work. Nothing is more tempting than checking your WhatsApp messages or Instagram account on your phone. You can quickly lose your focus on the task you should be working on.

Try using the Pomodoro technique while working.

  • Set a timer for 25 minutes and work uninterruptedly on your task during this time.
  • Then take a short five minute break to have something to drink or stretch. My tip – leave your mobile phone alone!
  • Repeat this process four times and take a 15-minute break afterwards.
  • If all this doesn’t help, set up a website blocker on your computer that prevents you from accessing sites such as Facebook. Search for the following apps: Freedom, KeepMeOut or Switcheroo.
  • Make sure you reward yourself after a long session of hard work. Make yourself a snack, go for a walk or call one of your friends.

4. Communication is important

Online courses don’t mean you have to study alone and become lonely.

Get talking to other students, for example during the FAU Learning Lab’s Zoom chat.

Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself when the tutor asks and strike up a conversation.

Make sure you regularly take part in discussions in chatrooms, forums or in video chats. Check regularly for new posts so that you’re always up to date. You can even do this with your mobile phone thanks to the great flexibility of online courses. Use the StudOn app for iOS and Android while waiting for the bus, for example. Create posts, comment and ask questions if something is unclear.

5. Study online at FAU with StudOn:

Use StudOn. Students can use online tools on StudOn that can help them with learning processes. You can use the tools by yourself or in groups for a wide range of learning aspects. A list of the tools available as well as a short explanation can be found here: