How to Get Through a Boring Online Class (While Paying Attention!)

Video chat, virtual morning meeting. A young woman with cup of coffee is greeting and waving to multiracial team on the PC monitor. Side view
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Have you ever been in an online class where it takes all your willpower not to fall asleep? If so, you are not alone!

Luckily, there are some things that you can do to pay attention and get through a boring online class.

To pay attention in a boring online class, students shouldn’t let their minds wander or multitask. They should interact with their teacher and peers, participate in group discussions, and ask questions. They can focus by taking notes, visualizing the topic, and restating the lesson in their own words.

Students can also take steps before class to make online classes go by faster. Check out these 14 stepsOpens in a new tab.!

Let’s explore the tips you can use to get through a boring online class.

Want to look your best on Zoom? Good webcam lightingOpens in a new tab. and a laptop standOpens in a new tab. to keep your camera at eye level will help you look great!

Stay present 

When you find a class boring, you are more likely to zone out and stop paying attention, but this only makes the time go by slower. 

The best thing you can do is stay focused and in the moment instead of thinking about what you will do after class. 

Eventually, it will become a habit not to multitask or let your mind wander during class.

Check out all the benefits of Prime StudentOpens in a new tab.. Click hereOpens in a new tab. to sign up for Prime Student.

Stop looking at the clock

Constantly looking at the clock to see how much longer the class lasts is not staying present! Staring at the clock will only make the time go slower.

Instead, focus on the lesson, and class will be over before you know it.

Avoid distractions

One way to help you pay attention is not splitting your focus between class and Google or social media or email. 

If you removed distractions before classOpens in a new tab. by putting your phone away and using a website blocker such as FreedomOpens in a new tab. to limit what websites you can access, you have already set yourself for success. 

Now just follow through by not pulling up anything else during class. 

Interact with your professor and peers 

Say hi to your professor and peers at the start of class. Say goodbye at the end and thank your professor. Offer your thoughts during any class discussion. Send emojis as feedbackOpens in a new tab..

These may seem like small things, but one of the reasons Zoom classes are boringOpens in a new tab. is because of a lack of interaction so make sure that you talk to your instructor and peers any chance you get!

This also has the added benefit of helping you form connections with your professor and classmates. Building these relationships makes it easier to engage with the class.

Note: It is easier to interact with your professor and peers if you leave your video on. Plus, you avoid appearing rude by not showing your face on ZoomOpens in a new tab..

Practice active listening 

Active Listening Skills

Active listening means giving the speaker your full attention and trying to hear and understand what they are saying. You also observe their non-verbal communication and send them signals that you are listening and understand, such as nodding.

Passive learning is what makes a class boring, so the more active a participant you are, the more interesting the class will seem.


This means engaging with the class. Offer your thoughts to the group discussion or answer a question that the professor asks.

Ask questions

Ask your professor some questions. Ask any questions you have from the readings or assignments and anything you don’t understand about the lesson.

Don’t be afraid of asking a “stupid” question. If you are having trouble understanding something, then most likely other students are too. Your professor will appreciate you asking the question.

Take notes

Taking notes helps you focus on the content and gives you something to do. Focus on writing down the main points.

You have to be paying attention to what your instructor is saying to know the important information (the main points) that you need to write down.

You can use abbreviations and bullet points. You can take outline notes. Your notes don’t need to be complete sentences.

You can use colored pensOpens in a new tab. or highlightersOpens in a new tab. to make your notes more exciting and organized.

Take notes the way that best captures your attention!

These notes will also be an invaluable study resource for the tests.

Visualize what you are learning

One way to be a more active learner is to visualize what you are learning.

If you are learning about standard deviations, visualize the graph. If you are learning about mitosis, picture the cell splitting in two.

Restate what you are being taught in your own words 

You fully engage your brain by restating what you are learning in your own words.

Try to write notes in your own words.

Try taking notes in a more interesting way 

If normal note-taking, visualization, and restating the information in your own words are not holding your attention, try taking notes in a unique way. 

Use your non-dominant hand 

You can try to take notes using your non-dominant hand. Unless you are ambidextrous, this is hard! It will require your full attention (but be prepared to have to clean up your notes after class since they may be illegible if you are anything like me).

Write your notes in a foreign language 

If you speak a foreign language, try writing your notes in that language. Having to translate everything will require an extra level of concentration.

Create your own shorthand 

Try to make your own shorthand. Creating this will give you something extra to think about and could speed up your note-taking!

Write your notes like you are talking to a friend 

This goes along with restating the lesson in your own words but requires an extra level of simplification. Try to write your notes like you would talk if you explained the lesson to a friend.

They say that the best way to know something is to teach it, so this should help your comprehension!

Write them in texting language 

A more amusing note-taking style would be to write them like you would a text message. If you take notes on your laptop or iPad, you can even use emojis!

Write all your notes as headlines

Another funny way to take notes is to turn everything into a salacious headline. Instead of writing about the damaging effects of stonewalling on communication, try writing “Couple Errects Stone Wall in House.”

As long as it is about the topic and you know what it means, the sillier the better.

These headlines may even make it easier for you to remember the content.

Write all your notes in rhymes

Another way to make silly notes is to turn your notes into a rhyme.

For example: “When couples turn to stone, you know they will end up alone.”

Think about the practical uses of what you are learning 

A great way to remember what you are learning about is to think about its practical uses.

Think about how those psychology topics impact people or what the sociology terms mean for our society.

Thinking about how the information you are learning is relevant in the real world will make the topic much more interesting to you.

Use a focus aid

Close-up Of Businesswoman Hand Over Laptop Squeezing Stressball

If you have so much trouble getting through a boring online class because of how long you have to sit still, then use a physical focus aid.

Chewing gumOpens in a new tab., squeezing a stress ballOpens in a new tab., or playing with a fidget spinnerOpens in a new tab. can all give your body something to do so that it is easier for your mind to pay attention.

Refocus on the lesson when you find yourself not paying attention

Don’t beat yourself up if you have trouble paying attention for the whole class. That is normal—everyone zones out in class from time to time.

When you find yourself not paying attention, try to refocus your attention. Practice active listening again and start your notes again about whatever the teacher is talking about now.

For prerecorded classes: Increase playback speed

We have mostly covered online classes that are live video calls in this post, but many online classes are prerecorded.

It can be even harder to get through a boring online class if it is a video lecture. Use these tips (except for the ones about interacting with your professor or classmates in class) to help you focus.

One extra tip that applies only to prerecorded classes is to speed up the playback speed to make them more interesting and get the lecture over quicker (but make sure you can still hear them and have time to take notes!)

Now that you know how to get through a boring online class while paying attention. Check out what you can do after class to make online school not so boringOpens in a new tab..

My favorite products for Zoom meetings and classes 

Thank you for reading this article—I hope you found it helpful! Here are some of the best products I have found to help make Zoom meetings and classes go smoothly. 

Noise-canceling headphones: All students and anyone attending a lot of Zoom meetings need to invest in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones. I have used Bose earphonesOpens in a new tab. for over a decade, and I love them! I practically live in my earphones and have tried many different brands. Bose is by far the best brand at actually blocking out noise. 

Laptop stand: One of the best ways to look good on video calls is to have the camera at eye level. A laptop standOpens in a new tab. is an easy and affordable way to do this. 

Webcam: If you have a good laptopOpens in a new tab. with a functioning webcam, then you don’t need to buy an additional webcam, but if your laptop webcam is poor quality, you may need to buy a webcamOpens in a new tab..

Webcam lighting: Another way to look good on video calls is to have good lighting. A great way to achieve this is with lighting that attaches to your computerOpens in a new tab.. This will also ensure that you can be seen no matter where you attend are when you attend the Zoom meeting.

To see all of my most up-to-date recommendations for tools and products for students, check out this resourceOpens in a new tab. that I made for you!

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