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6 ways to keep up and stay motivated with online learning

If you’re new to online learning, check out these tips to maximize your motivation and energize your engagement. 

1) Own your time and your work

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Learning online often requires more self-discipline and self-direction. Creating a schedule and following a routine can help you battle procrastination and feel more productive, in control and accountable.    

Start your schedule:

  • Mark down your classes and important dates.
  • Record standing commitments.
  • Book study time each day.
  • Block time for each task before moving on to the next. Circle back later if needed.
  • Schedule time to eat and sleep.
  • Carve out time for physical activity.
  • Book time for fun — and don’t forget the “me” time.

And embrace a routine by getting up and getting dressed like you’re actually going to school.

πŸ“Ί Watch this: How to make an effective study timetable

πŸ“– Read more about it: Study smart

πŸ’» πŸ‘ Online upside: One of the best things about learning online is flexibility. A routine is all about harnessing your most productive times to do your most challenging work. Use your added flexibility to schedule your school work when you’re most productive — whether that’s in the morning, afternoon or evening — and schedule more breaks when your energy tends to be lower.

2) Keep on top of your course

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It’s not uncommon for students to feel out of sync with their course when studying online.

In addition to creating a schedule, make sure to check your email regularly. Also, log in to Brightspace and check your courses every weekday — watch for announcements and record any updates in your schedule. Plus, check your Brightspace settings to make sure your course announcements reach your SAIT email box.

Pay attention when your instructor says something like, “By this point in the course you should know, have completed, read or started...” Make sure you’re on track.  

πŸ‘‰ Check this out: Welcome to online learning — find out what to expect from your course and learn more about online learning tools.

πŸ’» πŸ‘ Online upside: You can expect to have frequent contact with your instructor when you’re studying online. Ask questions. Some students actually find it easier to raise their hand in an online class.

Quick tips to effectively communicate with your instructor:

  • Find out your instructor’s preferred contact method. If they contact you in one format, use the same format to respond.
  • Maximize your subject line. Include your course code/title and the topic of your email.
  • Watch your attachments. Name your documents in a way that matches the content and include your name. Use the file type requested to ensure your instructor can open it. If possible, send only one attachment per email.
  • Be direct and to the point. Keep your paragraphs short.
  • Review your email for typos and grammar before sending.
  • Sign your email with your name and SAIT ID number.

3) Check in with your community

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Even online, you’ve got classmates! There are lots of ways to make meetups easy, fun and motivating.

  • Plan an online group study session or get a study buddy — studying with peers can help you stay on track and feel that extra bit of support when it comes to your school work.
  • Start a group chat — get to know people you may never have met on campus.
  • Connect with your program’s student club — or start one if there isn’t one.

βœ‹ Looking for ways to get involved? Check out student life at SAIT and join in.

πŸ’» πŸ‘ Online upside: Learning online means you can connect with people from pretty much anywhere. Take this opportunity to meet new people, build relationships and engage in mentorship.

4) Own your space

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Choose your study spot and make it sing. If possible, try to separate your study area from the space you use for relaxation.

Create an environment that helps you focus:

  • Look for natural light.
  • Add some ambient noise instead of music.
  • Try to designate a single study spot.
  • Eliminate distractions.

Plus, keep your digital files organized and your learning materials within reach — online and in your physical space. Make sure you can access what you need from where you are. Your materials might include your computer, headphones, a pen, some paper and your readings.  

πŸ“Ί Watch this: How to create an organized, productive study space

πŸ“– Read more about it: Check out some resources on organization and time management available through the Reg Erhardt Library.

πŸ’» πŸ‘ Online upside: Since you’re learning in your own space, you can customize it to support how you work best. Try adding a few touches that help you feel inspired.

5) Keep your eye on the prize

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You chose to go to school for a reason – or maybe several reasons. Remember why you’re here.

Achieving a big goal, such as graduating from your program or starting a new career, can be broken down into any number of smaller ones — from making a study schedule to acing a test, practicing a Zoom call to polishing your online profile.  

Try making a series of goals and rewarding yourself for your progress:

  • Think short-term and long-term — this will help you establish a real sense of direction.
  • Think SMART — make your goals specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely.
  • Think personal — a goal is your own, don’t worry about it being too small or too specific.

Expect to experience some discomfort, frustration or even personal resistance to learning a new way. But don't make them a reason to give up. Keep your goals in mind. Know that when you work through challenges you’ll be better at addressing similar problems in the future.

πŸ“Ί Watch this: How to create a SMART goal

πŸ’» πŸ‘ Online upside: You’re learning a skill by learning online. You’re also learning that skill in a safe and supportive environment. The future world of work may require you to flex your virtual muscles more than ever before — think of this as an opportunity to stretch.

6) Check in with yourself

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This is a challenging and uncertain time. Anxiety and stress levels may be higher than usual and it’s easy to feel drained, unsure or overwhelmed.

Your mental health is important. With so much beyond our control, try to focus on what you can control.

  • Check your wellness regularly.
  • Take a time out.
  • Focus — on the good and on one thing at a time.
  • Find your balance.
  • Ask for help — from your instructor, community supports and/or a variety of student services at SAIT.

πŸ‘‰ Check this out: Mindfulness exercises from TAO self-help and learn more about free self-help tools for students.

πŸ“– Read more about it: School vs. life: Expert tips on setting (and defending) your boundaries

πŸ’» πŸ‘ Online upside: If you’re learning from home, turn a break between classes into a relaxing recess — go for a bike ride, meditate, read a book, go for a walk, take a nap or make yourself The. Best. Lunch. Ever.


Student support services at SAIT continue to be available online. Watch for online workshops and webinars, take advantage of opportunities to get involved and reach out for support when needed — we’ve got you covered.


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