4. Organizational Skills


(30 minutes)


Your organizational skills play a very important role in your success. They are imperative for any student interested in taking an online course.

If you are an online student, you need to be more organized than you would in a traditional classroom. In this module we will cover one of the most important skills needed for successful online learning. You need to organize when to study, where to study, and the tools you need to study.

How to organize when you study online:

  • Organize your physical study space
  • Organize your course materials
  • Create an organizational style
  • Develop a scheduling system that will help you turn all coursework in on time

Organize your Environment

So, what does it take to be organized?

  • Take control of your physical space
  • When are you most productive?
  • In what kind of set-up?

Everyone's preferences will be different, but once you've answered these questions for yourself, create a place where your priority can be concentrating on schoolwork.

  • First, identify what time of day you are most productive. Are you most alert and focused in the morning? Do you prefer to work at night, when you've gotten other things you need to accomplish during the day already done? Or is there some other time of day that works best for your studies?
  • It can really help to set up schedule, so you know when you will be sitting down to accomplish the requirements for your course.
  • Second, decide where to study. Some people prefer to work at home; others find that setting too tempting or distracting. Some prefer the quiet of a library while others appreciate the background activity they find at a café. Make sure you have a plan B location in case your first location doesn't work out on a given day.
  • Third, what conditions will enable you to concentrate and learn most effectively within your study space? Your motivation can be influenced by the noise level, temperature, and light in the place you choose.

Organize your Course Materials

The second element you will have to organize is your course material. You may prefer working with hard copies that you can print out and write on, or you may appreciate the ease and flexibility that comes with working digitally.

Most students use a combination of both, depending on the course or a given assignment. Whether you prefer hard copies or digital versions of course material, you should set up a reliable and convenient system so you can stay on top of your work.

If you like to work with "hard" (or physical, printed) copies, find a place where you can keep all of your school materials: books, notes, assignments, binders, and a calendar.

Keep a stash of basic office supplies: pens, highlighters, paper, a stapler, binders, folders, index cards or any other study aids you might need.

Create an Organizational Style

Create an organizational style that works for you. The internet can be helpful. A few quick Google searches might give you some helpful tips and ideas that could make a practical task like organizing very exciting and enjoyable.

If, on the other hand, you prefer the ease and convenience that comes with an electronic (or digital) system, you still have many options for how to organize your materials. Again, you'll still want to have a "place" where you can store and find your materials. Which device will you keep your materials on?

Where will you store your backups? If you're saving your files on different devices, you may find yourself wasting a lot of time trying to locate a document. Avoid this by creating an electronic organizational system that works well for you.

You may want to store files on your own personal computer, or you may want to save them on an external hard drive or a removable flash drive. Another option is to keep your files in the "cloud," or in online storage. This may mean emailing yourself copies of assignments or tapping into the free resources offered by cloud-based services.

Every student at any of the nine Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD)'s campuses can save their files in OneDrive with up to 1 TB of available storage.

All your files are private unless you decide to share them. Use OneDrive in your web browser or from the OneDrive app, available on all your favorite devices, including Android, iOS, or Windows Phone.

Examples of available cloud-based storage services include:

Organizing your Time

The last thing you'll need to organize is your time. The first thing you'll want to do when you sign up for an online class is to read the syllabus (thoroughly!) and familiarize yourself with class requirements and assignment due dates.

Write these down immediately—these dates will help you get an idea of what the rest of the term will look like and how the course will be paced.

Above all, make sure that you don't have any surprises midway through the term—you won't want to realize that your first big essay is due the day before the midterm.

Helpful Hints

  • Print out the syllabus and calendar in case servers go down or you have a power outage issue.
  • Identify several places with free wireless internet: that way, if one network is down, you will have an alternative location for getting assignments in on time. Same goes for your other devices.
  • View and read more about OneDrive on LACCD or LAVC’s web site. Check its compatibility, space, and features.
  • Decide how to organize your electronic course materials, including those you download and those you create. For example, you might create:

One folder for each of your courses
One sub-folder for each week of each course, using a naming convention that includes the dates of each week. For example, Wk1_Sept01-08
Within each weekly sub-folder, you could create another level of sub-folders divided into "readings," "resources," "assignments," etc.

  • Create descriptive file names so you don't have to open files to know what is in them. Same goes for different versions of the same file.
  • Keep at least one backup for each of your files and store them in a different place than where you usually access them.
  • Create a calendar that you can fill out as soon as you receive the syllabus and update it as soon as you get a new assignment. The Calendar module, in Canvas, is a great way to view everything you must do for all your courses in one place.


You covered another major milestone in your journey. You know the importance of your organizational skills in taking an online class. Because online learning is so flexible, you can really tailor the experience to your own personal preferences. There are numerous resources online to help you with your organizational skills!

Help Links

Class Login

Canvas Login Instructions

  1. In a web browser, go to https://mycollege.laccd.edu
  2. LoginID/UserID: Your 9-digit student ID number (example: 881234567 or 900123456)
  3. Password: Same as your SIS password (where you registered for the class). Show me.