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Study success

Studying online

Guidance on getting the most out of your studies when studying online.

A student working on a laptop from accommodation at Limes Court

Depending on your course, you may be expected to engage in some online study.

Online study skills are similar to other forms of study. You will need to make notes, do reading, and manage your time effectively. 

However, it also requires some specific skills to work well online. Our guidance will help you prepare yourself for studying online, and our student support teams are here to help wherever you are studying.

Make sure you have the right tools

Microsoft Office 365 is free to all students while you are studying with us.

You can use it online or download Microsoft Office applications on up to 5 devices. Find out more from our self-help guides:

Digital training and support

Study skills guides

Attend your sessions

Research shows that students who attend more sessions, either online or on campus, tend to get better grades. Whatever your mode of study, attending your teaching sessions also gives you the chance to become part of our community.

Sessions which are pre-recorded or recorded during the session give you an opportunity to review sections you do not understand, allowing you to embed knowledge and understanding.

Get involved with your study

When you listen to recorded material, do what you would do if you were attending a live session and make notes. Making notes can help you learn, and they also give you something to review later.

Taking good notes is a skill, and our Study skills guides can help you develop your note-taking. Focus on understanding the lecture and make your own summary notes as best you can. If your session is recorded, you can review it to improve your notes and fill in gaps. You can also check whether the lecturer has made PowerPoint slides or other material available for you and take time to review these.

Your lecturers may ask you to do reading or a task before a session. These will prepare you for the session, so do your best to complete them. Making notes from pre-reading will help your understanding of the topic. If there is something you are not sure about, make a note and ask your lecturer.

You may be offered live question and answer sessions alongside a prerecorded lecture or workshop. These sessions are a good opportunity to find out more, ask questions and deepen your knowledge.

You could be to complete a quiz or task after a session. This is a good way of consolidating your knowledge and checking your understanding.

Some modules may feature online forums in Moodle, use these to ask questions and discuss topics. It's a good way to connect with other students on your course and your tutors.

Review your notes

After a session, check your notes for areas you don't understand and identify any gaps. When you are revising your notes, try to summarise in your own words.

If the session was recorded, go back and revisit any sections you didn't understand. Ideally you should aim to go back to a recorded session within 2 to 3 days. This will allow you to think about the session and digest the information properly.

Catch up

If you miss a live online session or forget to view a recorded lecture, review the resources on Moodle and any recordings within a week. Learning is more effective when it's spread out, so try to keep up to date with your sessions and module content each week.

Ask for help

We are here to help. There is lots of advice available from your tutors and our support teams. If you do not understand something in an online session, please ask.

Try watching the recorded sessions with others on your course as part of a study group, and check your knowledge on a regular basis using your module content in Moodle as a help resource.

Look up additional resources, including those that are mentioned in sessions (the pause button can help). Remember, your reading lists are a great tool to connect you with the resources you will need to use to take part in the learning for your course. Don't just rely on the content in a lecture.


Stay in touch with students in your class, your tutor, lecturers and our support teams. Our online tools are a good way to keep in contact with everyone.

Remember to check your university email on a regular basis and you will find lots of useful information on your module pages in Moodle.

Take regular breaks

It's easy to spend a long time in front of a laptop or a computer when studying online. Make sure you take breaks and do something relaxing. It's also worth deciding on a cut-off point for finishing studying for the day.

Space out viewing online sessions - this is more effective for learning. Binge-watching online sessions might seem tempting but it's not the best use of your time.

Online safety

Your safety online is important.

If you have any concerns about yourself or a fellow student then please speak to us. You can raise your concerns with your academic tutor or the wellbeing team. Alternatively, you can report anonymously by using Report and Support.

This guide is brought to you by York St John University and York St John Students' Union. It is based on: Nordmann et al. (2018) Lecture capture: practical recommendations for students and lecturers. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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