4 Ways to Stay Focused During Online Courses

One of the problems learners face when studying online courses is the passive nature of learning by watching video lessons. The learner often watches the course videos once and then attempts to solve the quizzes. This method does not always lead the learner to achieve the desired learning outcomes. That’s why we’ve rounded up four practical tips to help you focus more during course lectures.


1) Take Notes While Watching Videos

This method is referred to as the Cornell method of note-taking and is attributed to Cornell University, which was the first university to teach this method to its students. When you start studying, take out a paper and pencil or open a note-taking software, then divide the page into sections, as depicted in the table below.



Pointers (Reminders)












Note that you should divide the page into three sections to be filled in the following order:

  1. Notes: Here, you can write down important information that you noticed while watching the video. Such information includes the main ideas discussed by the instructor, methodologies, illustrations, basic concepts and definitions, and other notes. It is important to record these notes while you’re watching the video and not after you’ve finished watching.


  1. Pointers: After you’ve finished watching the video, add short tips or reminders to bring to your attention the main information and ideas in your notes. For instance, you can add short questions, symbols, facts, or anything that helps you remember the important facts.


  1. Summary: Once you have completed adding the pointers, summarize your observations quickly within thirty seconds, so that your summary does not exceed 5 lines. Always try to do this step immediately after watching the videos to enhance the speed of retrieval of the information and lecture content.


This note-taking method can be used for all lectures, not just for online courses.


2) Group Videos by Length

We encourage you to divide the course videos into segments of different lengths and watching them at intervals that fit the human attention cycle. For example, Edraak courses try to avoid using videos that are longer than 7 minutes to help students absorb content faster and easier.


As such, we recommend dividing videos into the following groups:

  1. Less than 4 minutes: Watch the video once and take notes while watching.


  1. From 4 to 7 minutes: Watch the video once without taking notes and highlight important points. Watch the video one more time, this time focus on the important points and take notes.


  1. More than 7 minutes: Divide the video into several segments, and then watch each video separately while taking notes.


3) Participate in Discussion Forums

Develop the habit of participating in discussion forums either by asking questions, helping others, engaging in private discussions, or by socializing with other learners. Discussion forums are a useful tool to help you learn actively in online courses.


4) Revise Your Notes Sporadically

Always revise your notes sporadically over long periods of time. Do not re-read them, but try to remember your notes by looking at your pointers and clues and try to explain the notes in detail. It is also useful to test your understanding of the content by solving the course quizzes from time to time.


The Arabic version of this article was first published on Edraak’s blog. This article has been translated and republished with permission.

  • Productivity
  • Studying Tips
  • Online Courses