Online Learning Tip #4: Stay Organized

by Shannon Bicknell | Feb 02, 2016

Stay Organized
Staying organized will be vital to your success in an online course. The site on which your online course is managed, for instance Compass or Moodle, should always be your first stop for staying organized, as the content will be presented to you in a chronological sequence and the site will include features to help you stay organized. Keeping your files across all courses organized, though, is also extremely important.   

Organize Your Files
To stay organized, think about how best to organize your files at the very start. You will want to start by creating a folder structure. For instance, creating folders for each semester, course, and assignment is a common way to logically file all your course documents.

Think long-term, too, and develop a file-naming structure. It can be helpful to come up with a consistent way to name your files from the start so that you can easily find files later. This will also ensure that you select the right file when it’s time to submit an assignment!

One way to name your files is to start with the course number and then assignment name (for instance, LAS101_finalpaper.docx). If you like to save multiple versions, make sure to take that into account as well. You may want to include version information as part of the file name (for instance, LAS101_finalpaper_v3.docx). Box and Google Drive both have easy-to-use search features, so in semesters to come, you will thank yourself for naming your files in a way that makes them easy to find.

Back Up Your work
Although you will submit your work online, where it is available to you as long as the course site is open, it is a good idea to always back up your written submissions.

A good practice is to start all your work in a word processing program like Word. Save your work to your computer or file storage system before you submit your work online. This will allow you to keep your work archived and save you a lot of time if you do happen to encounter an unforeseen technical issue.

Leverage Additional Tools
Your online course site will have some features to keep you organized and guide you, but there are a lot of additional tools and apps you might want to check out.

Which one to use is entirely up to you and your personal preference and style, but here are a few of the most popular:

  • As an Illinois student, you have access to a free 50 GB Box account. Box is the U of I’s cloud storage solution, and making use of this will not only help you stay organized, but will also increase your productivity since you can access these files from anywhere—even from your mobile devices!
  • Google Drive is also a great tool for organizing, storing, and sharing your files.
Staying organized will set you up for success—and this will also help with time management as well. Check back for the next blog in this series, which will focus on tips and tricks for effective time management.