5 Tips to Succeed in Distance Education

If you’ve ever taken an online course, there’s a good chance it ended up being more work than you’d expected.

Distance education can be a convenient way to take a course, but it can also lead to failure if you’re not well prepared.

Features of Distance Education

Distance education can also be called distance learning, online learning, or e-learning. Classes are taught online, meaning you don’t have to be physically present at a school. 

These courses differ from mobile learning. Many tend to have a more traditional, classroom-based structure. The types of courses vary widely, but you’re often expected to follow a syllabus, complete assignments, and take tests. 

The Challenge of Distance Education

Without having to be present in a classroom, it’s easy to ignore your assignments or give them less attention than other things in your life. This attitude can cause you to fall behind fast.

How to Succeed in Distance Education

The most successful distance learners have discipline and structure. Here are a few tips to guide you through your online studies.

1. Know When You Learn Best

Knowing the time of day when you have the most focus can improve your chances of success. Some things, like your instructor’s schedule, might be out of your control but you can still plan to do your assignments, review, and study at the times of day you feel most energized and motivated. 

2. Stay Organized

Keeping a schedule is essential. Make note of assignment deadlines, test dates, and any other important information your instructor gives you. You should also schedule regular blocks of time to do your coursework. This will help you break the habit of leaving your work until the last minute. 

3. Limit Distractions

Yes, it’s convenient to study in the comfort of your own home, but it can also be hard to stay focused. It’s important to have a quiet study space away from distractions (like TV or a pile of laundry that needs folding). If a distraction-free space isn’t an option at home, head to a library or coffee shop. If the surroundings are still too noisy or distracting, get some noise-canceling headphones

Trying to stay off social media is a problem for many of us. If this sounds like you, consider turning off your phone during your scheduled coursework periods. There are also apps that can help you focus and block websites so you’re not tempted to browse on your laptop. 

4. Participate

Enhance your experience by communicating with other learners. Whether by email, a message board, or instant messaging, participating in discussions will help you understand topics and retain information. 

Don’t forget that there’s also an instructor leading the course. If you have questions or need some extra help, contact your instructor. They’re there to help you!

5. Reward Yourself

Try making a reward schedule to boost your motivation. The reward is up to you: You could take a social media break when you finish an assignment, or go to your favorite restaurant if you achieve a high score on a test.  


With no commute and more flexibility, distance learning can be an appealing option. To be successful, make sure you adopt habits to keep yourself organized, focused, and motivated.

Andrea is a Gabby Academy coach and education technolgy writer based in Vancouver, Canada.