How to study online

Studying online is a convenient and effective way to learn. There may be a few challenges but these key study tips will help you stay focused and organised to successfully complete your course online.

Six quick study and motivation tips

Professor Blake McKimmie has put together six quick videos to give you tips on getting started and staying motivated.

1 Reducing distractions

Tip 1 (YouTube, 36s) - Distractions can have a negative effect on learning. Get tips on how to reduce distractions while studying online.

2 Staying motivated

Tip 2 (YouTube, 32s) - Tips to help when you are feeling unmotivated.

3 Planning

Tip 3 Planning (YouTube, 26s) - Plan a to-do list with concrete, achievable tasks.

4 Getting started

Tip 4 (YouTube, 29s) - Getting started with your study can be difficult. Learn strategies to help you get started.

5 Get an accountability buddy

Tip 5 (YouTube, 19s) - Tell a buddy your study goals and then check back in with them.

6 Monitor yourself and your strategies

Tip 6 (YouTube, 29s) - Monitor how you are going and try new strategies if you need.

5 tips to help you stay motivated with online study (PDF, 154KB) has more details and tips from Professor Blake McKimmie and Associate Professor Jason Lodge.

Top of page

Your online study set-up

Prepare your equipment

You will need a computer with a reliable internet connection, headphones, a microphone (recommended), a webcam and a quiet space.

Lecture recordings

Access recordings of your lectures in your Learn.UQ (Blackboard) course. You can change the playback speed, bookmark content and download recordings to view them offline. 

Virtual classrooms (Zoom)

Your lectures and tutorials may be offered as a virtual classroom. This is an interactive online session using Zoom, during which you can communicate with other participants in real time. Unlike a recorded lecture, the session is streamed live and you are able to question, contribute, message and share screens.

Learn how to install and use Zoom on your device and organise, join and participate in meetings.


Top of page

Saving and backing up your work

It is very important to plan where you will save your assignments and other documents you use for your study. 

Working with data and files has information on online storage options and backup plans. Develop a manageable storage and backup plan that works for your needs.

Top of page

Active engagement with your learning resources

Watching a video lecture requires a different approach to the one you would take to watch a movie for entertainment. Actively engage with the educational videos, podcasts and readings so you can learn more effectively. You should expect to be thinking, questioning and reflecting as you watch, listen or read.

Learning outcomes

Before you watch a video or listen to a podcast, think about the expected learning outcomes. What should you be learning as you watch or listen?


Minimise distractions when reading, watching and listening online. Effective study requires sustained concentration. Multi-tasking (and gaming) constantly breaks your focus. A popular method for improving concentration is the Pomodoro Technique.

Take notes

Take notes while watching online recordings of lectures or videos. Retrieving important information is quicker by reviewing your notes than searching through video or audio recordings.

Try these notetaking tools to make your notetaking easier.


No binge-watching!

Spread out your viewing of videos, listening and reading over time to improve your learning. Studying for four 1 hour sessions is more effective than one 4 hour session.

Use the buttons

Stop, rewind and replay when you don't understand something that was said or if your concentration has lapsed. Pause to record notes, to think of a response if the lecturer has posed a question, or to reflect on something said. You may be able to turn on captions while you’re watching the video or, in many cases, a transcript of the video will be available.

Learn together online

Set up or join online groups with other students in your tutorials or course. You can meet online or chat about course content.

Use online tools to read, listen or watch course videos with your study group or classmates. You will be able to discuss the content and learn from one another. 

There are a lot of tools you can use to help you communicate and collaborate online, including for messaging, discussions and collaborative documents.



Be sure to revisit the materials again, spread out over time, to reinforce your learning and increase your understanding.

Top of page

Plan your study

Identify your goals

Setting learning goals for yourself will help you stay focused on what you wish to accomplish. You can set both long-term and short-term goals for your learning.

Goals and motivation

Goals and motivation go hand in hand. Goals will give you direction and your motivation will help you to get started, make good use of your time and to persevere. This can be really helpful when you have conflicting interests.


Rewarding yourself for achieving a goal works for many learners. It can help motivate you to ignore distractions to reach your goal. The size of the reward should reflect the time needed or the effort taken to achieve the goal. It can be small e.g. work for 50 minutes and then take a 10 minute break, or larger e.g. complete this week's class preparation before you stream that movie.

Manage your time

Effective time-management is the key to learning successfully in your course, so it is important for you to think about what works for you and put some strategies in place. One strategy that works for many students is to put together a study plan.

Remember: Most courses at UQ expect 8 to 10 hours of work per week.

Space out your learning

It is better not to try and learn too much in any one time. A more effective strategy is to learn smaller chunks over an extended period of time, revisiting often and practising.

Videos, activities and formative assessment tasks (which don't contribute to your course grade) can be used repeatedly for practice to help consolidate your learning. Looking back over past material as the semester continues is particularly effective when combined with memory retrieval study techniques.

Test your learning

Memory retrieval studying is any technique which requires you to recall content without referring to notes or other materials. It is a better strategy to increase your learning than just revisiting content and re-reading material repeatedly. It is an effective study technique because it tests what you actually know, rather than what you think you know.

You can use practice tests, develop your own self-tests, have your family or friends quiz you or do any number of other activities which require you to recall information without referring to notes or other materials. This process of tapping into your memory to recall information helps you to develop deeper learning and helps to commit information to your long term memory.

Self-tests might involve using flashcards, writing out information or explaining a concept to a friend. The key to it is to recall everything from memory only, and then check it.

There are a number of different strategies you can use to help you retrieve information from your memory that you are probably already familiar with, for example, mnemonics. Improving your memory (LinkedIn Learning course, 1h28m) has tips on using mnemonic devices and other techniques.

Learn more about successful blended learning: More Effective Learning: extract from Conversation with John Dunlosky (YouTube, 7m16s)

Top of page

Build your digital skills

If you have been using computers for some time and are familiar with creating documents, managing your files, email and the web, you will have the skills you need to do your course online.

Explore the Digital Essentials modules to buld your digital skills. These modules will help you develop your skills to support your learning. Modules include how to:


LinkedIn Learning

If you need help with software you are unfamiliar with or want develop your skills, LinkedIn Learning is a software and skills training website which is free to all UQ students. It provides video tutorials from the beginner to advanced level.

Find out how to get free access to LinkedIn Learning online courses. Courses include:

Top of page

Creating study space at home

Try to create a space that you feel comfortable to study in. Get some tips:

Top of page



If you have questions about your courses, check the ECPs and your Learn.UQ course site for how to connect with your course teams and consultation times.


Contact AskUs for I.T. help and issues accessing UQ systems and resources.

Issues accessing resources from overseas

VPN for students affected by the travel ban has informtion on accessing resources.

Student Support

Student Services has a range of support available, including counselling, disability, learning and accommodation.