8 Tips for First-time Online Learners | Coursera Community

8 Tips for First-time Online Learners

8 Tips for First-time Online Learners
Userlevel 7
  • Community Manager
  • 1679 replies

Coursera Teaching & Learning Specialist @Linlin has shared these 8 tips for people learning online for the first time. They’re great tips for longtime online learners, too!

Read more about implementing each tip here.

  1. Set daily goals for studying

  2. Create a dedicated study space

  3. Schedule time to study on your calendar

  4. Keep yourself accountable

  5. Actively take notes

  6. Join the discussion

  7. Do one thing at a time

  8. Take breaks

Share your own advice for first-time online learners below.

13 replies

Badge +1

حقيقي كان هذا من الاشياء التي لم اقم بمراعتها في المسيرة التعلمية.Thank you very much.

Userlevel 1

Find a supportive learning community - great way to stay accountable and to work on learning together.  This can be a virtual community or an in-person community.

Userlevel 3
  • Minimize screen distractions:
    • Close all browser tabs and windows that are not being used
    • Turn off all notifications from emails and social media
    • Enter full screen for the browser and documents
  • Set a detailed timetable:
    • break down your routine into smaller manageable parts with time allocation for reading, watching a video tutorial and writing notes
  • Ensure to use a notebook and pen:
    • Make notes by writing on pen and paper: this helps retaining knowledge better than just typing on a device
  • Customise your screen:
    • Check your Accessibility preference settings and use them (both Windows and Mac devices have them, just search for “Accessibility preferences”)
  • Turn on captions and subtitles when watching video tutorials:
    • They are useful to everyone and reading them while listening helps with retaining the information
  • Read the video and podcast transcriptions: 
    • They are helpful to everyone and some people prefer reading the transcriptions than watching the videos
  • Organise your resource library in a spreadsheet or as a list in a word document
  • Ensure to take regular breaks from the screen:
    • but do not allow your small breaks to break your flow with distracting activities: do a small number press-ups, star jumps and stretches, make a cup of tea or any healthy drink you like or just close your eyes for 10 minutes to rest between topics. 
Userlevel 2

These tips are from me:

  1. Do it if you want to learn: I know, we all have many things to take care of such as our family, work, school, and a very busy schedule. However, most of the time, online learning can be a little demanding with due dates, quizzes, videos and we all know it takes some time to finish a course. To me, if you really have time and if you really want to learn, you can do this no matter what. That is the reason, you have to create a schedule and create your own time. Some of us may start very well and passionately but then stops suddenly because of timing. If you know you have time, I would say go for it. If you don't have any time to learn, I would not recommend you. I know, this sounds a little discouraging but I believe only people who want to learn will finish a course and get their certificate.
  2. Use LinkedIn: If you don't have a LinkedIn account, I would recommend you to have one because sharing your certificate is a very good feature. You should definitely use it.
  3. Take notes: Online courses aren't as same as in-class courses which means you will most likely forget what you listened to and learn. Therefore, taking notes will help you and only reading them will help you to remember what you learned. Even you just skim your notes and look at the titles, you will remember what is it about. If you keep doing that for a couple of days after each week, you will most likely remember what you learned at the end of the course. This is why taking notes is an important step of learning online because there is no educator you will see almost every day like an in-class course and ask your questions. As a student, I can see the difference between online MOOC classes, online college courses (I am also taking my school's online classes), and in-class college courses. Sometimes, I have a question and even ask my in-class professor and he gets surprised by my questions as I am taking similar courses on Coursera.
  I certainly enjoy learning on Coursera, especially at this time of staying at home due to the COVID-19 virus, and with the luck of working from home. I did not make a schedule to study, everybody is different. I don't need to make a schedule because I know what I need to do and I keep everything in my mind and I constantly learn on Coursera. I believe Coursera is one of the most amazing opportunities that someone can have as it is very useful, cheaper than taking a course at an Ivy League college and most importantly, I am doing this at home.


Badge +1

Indeed… I find this helpful...


read few pages from your favourite books.



Every word of encouragement are all helpful




Thank you for such a great advice.

Userlevel 2
Badge +2

The advice I have to offer is that  you should read the notes you make and test your knowledge (for this purpose, it’s useful to make flashcards or use a note-taking format such as the Cornell method). Finally, remember to study early and often.

Happy studying!