9 Tech Tips to Supercharge Your Productivity as an Online Student

Provided by Penn State World Campus

As an online student, you rely on technology in many ways to complete your courses. If you are comfortable with web basics such as online shopping, sending email, or posting to social media, you may already consider yourself fairly tech-savvy. But you likely are overlooking some ways to take advantage of technology that can boost your productivity, and help you become a more successful online student. Some tips that might be especially helpful to you:

1. Know the shortcut keys for your operating system. These keyboard shortcuts can save you time and effort in completing tasks that might otherwise require a mouse or other device.
Windows Shortcut Keys
Mac OS X Shortcut Keys

2. Keep current with software updates. Don’t miss a critical change to your computer’s software that might cause glitches with your coursework.
• If you use a PC, make a point of routinely running and installing Windows Updates. For Windows 10, open the “Start” menu, click on “Settings,” then go to Update & Security Settings and choose Windows Updates. In Windows 8, in Apps View, search for “windows update” and then select “check for updates” to run the process manually. In Windows 7, open the “Start” menu and then search for “windows update” and select “check for updates.” Windows 10 installs updates automatically.
• If you use a Mac, select the Apple icon and then select “software update.” To ensure that updates are made automatically, go to “System Preferences” and then “App Store” and make sure that “Automatically check for updates” is selected, as well as each of the three options below that selection.
• Update Java, Flash, and QuickTime as updates become available. These programs will periodically check for updates after they are installed. Some browsers may also update them automatically.

3. Create a separate user profile just for your course work. Windows and Mac systems both allow you to set up multiple user profiles. This will allow you to keep your work or personal files separate from your school files, which may be especially important if you share a computer with your family or others in your household.

4. Make the most of Office 365, if your school provides it. At Penn State World Campus, Office 365 offers a variety of other productivity applications.
• Learn how to troubleshoot common issues.
• Learn how to add your Office 365 email to Outlook on your computer.
• Learn how to forward your school email from Office 365 to a personal email account.
• Check out the other Office 365 applications you may have access to as a student.

5. Dedicate a web browser to use only for course work if you prefer. This is another effective way to keep your school activity separate from personal or work activity. You can download Firefox for free.

6. Back up files regularly by copying them onto a USB flash drive, external hard drive, or to an online storage location “in the cloud.” For example, Penn State students can save documents online using OneDrive in Office 365, or Box. Storing files in more than one location can prevent file loss if there is an accident or system crash.

7. Contact the Help Desk immediately
if you have a problem during a timed quiz or exam, or if you just need general troubleshooting help.

8. When submitting attachments to a drop box, try selecting your submission after it is ready. This will allow you to confirm that the correct file is attached and readable.

9. Take advantage of the free technology resources that your school provides. Examples include:
psu.edu: Provides antivirus protection and other downloadable tools
Adobe Creative Cloud: Provides programs like Acrobat, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and more
Box: Allows you to store and share files securely online
Lynda: Offers online training for commonly used programs.

For information on student technology resources and the tuition reduction available to you, your spouse and legal dependents, visit Penn State World Campus Edcor website. Penn State World Campus offers more than 150 online programs and access to academic advising, career counseling, and a financial literacy staff that specializes in serving military students.