Let me start by saying that you should try to pay attention in your online class. You are paying money to take this course (or your parents or whoever gave you a scholarship is paying), so you should make the most of it and learn something!
Plus, it is hard to do well in the course if you don’t pay attention in class. Your GPA will thank you for forcing yourself to focus.
BUT, if you absolutely can’t pay attention in your Zoom class and want to kill time until the class is over, you need to find something to do that won’t be disruptive or disrespectful to the teacher and the rest of the class.
When bored in an online class, students could learn shorthand, play a game online, read, write, draw/doodle, surf the internet, work on an assignment for that class or another course, organize their inbox or desktop, and make a to-do list, wishlist, or bucket list.
Read on for a full list of over 35 things you can do when bored in your online class without getting in trouble.
Want to look your best on Zoom? Good webcam lighting and a laptop stand to keep your camera at eye level will help you look great!
What should you NOT do when bored in an online class if you don’t want to get in trouble?
You should not do anything disruptive, such as unmuting yourself and trying to annoy the teacher or talk to your classmates. Don’t try to divert your teacher’s attention or pretend you have technical difficulties.
You also shouldn’t listen to anything. You need to be able to hear your teacher in case you are asked a question. Don’t listen to music or podcasts or watch Youtube or Netflix.
Now let’s look at some of the things that you can do.
Note: Your teacher cannot see your screen, but if your camera is on, make sure that you look at your screen and nod sometimes while doing any of these things so that it at least looks like you are listening.
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Use the class as an opportunity to learn shorthand. You can practice by taking your notes in shorthand.
This will give you something to do and help you be a faster notetaker.
Teach yourself calligraphy
You can practice by writing your notes in calligraphy.
Transcribe your lesson
If you can’t focus on the lesson enough to take useful notes, just transcribe your lesson by writing down everything your teacher says.
Then you can reread it later and try to understand it.
Write your notes backward
If you really want to challenge yourself, you can try to write the words in your notes backward.
Illustrate your notes
While spending your whole biology class drawing a heart is not a great way to pay attention in class, it is something related to the class that you can do while listening.
Play with a fidget toy
Play a memory game
Make a game out of remembering part of the lesson. For example, you could see how long you can remember each third word that your instructor says.
Make an acrostic name poem for a key term in your course
An acrostic poem is where you write the name or key term vertically and then come up with words that start with each letter horizontally. You probably did this with making adjectives for your name when you were little.
For my name, it could be:
Do a similar thing for a term in your course.
Start counting things.
Some ideas to start counting could be:
- The number of times your teacher says a certain word
- How many times your teacher touches their hair or talks with their hands
- The number of times your classmates say a certain word or yawn
- How many students are wearing different colors
- Every time someone uses an adjective
- How many words start with a certain letter
Make an anagram
Use the next word or phrase that your teacher says to make an anagram (where you rearrange the letters into new words).
Play word association
For whatever word someone says, write down the word you associate with it. See how off-topic you get.
Sketch your teacher or your classmates. Draw a sunset, tree, or mountain.
Some ideas of things to doodle:
- abstract shapes
- different ways to write your name
- Superman S’s
- a perfect circle
Give yourself a massage
Massage your temples or neck. It will feel good, relieve stress, and help you be more awake, which will make it easier to pay attention.
Do your assignments for other classes
If you can’t pay attention to the class you are in, you can at least be productive by getting some work done in another class.
Start working on your next assignment, discussion board, or essay.
Make your to-do list
Make a list of all the other things that you need to do. That way, you are ready to be productive after class.
Clean out your inbox
Use this time to clear out the million emails in your inbox.
Organize your files on your laptop
Go through all the documents and photos on your desktop, in your downloads folder, or anywhere on your laptop and organize them.
Take the chance to journal. Who says you can’t use your online class time for some free therapy.
If you have a blog, work on your next blog post. If you don’t have a blog, then maybe use this time to read about all the benefits of starting a blog.
Read an ebook online or comics.
Create a comic strip
Instead of reading comics, you could create your own comic strip.
Here are some ideas of these to write:
- A song
- A short story
- Start a novel
- Start a screenplay
- Write a poem or haiku
- Write a letter to someone
- Try to write down all the lyrics to a song that you love
Let your thoughts wander.
Make your bucket list
Write your bucket list (things you want to do before you die).
Send emails or text messages
It will be obvious if you spend the whole time looking down at your phone, but you can send emails or text messages on your laptop or iPad (whichever device you are taking the Zoom class on).
Check out our email tips for How to Email Your Professor (With Sample Emails).
Practice saying the alphabet backward (in your head)
Z, Y, X, W….
I learned this once on a road trip as a kid and have never forgotten it. Not a particularly useful skill, but kinda fun.
Play the alphabet game
Instead of having to find the letter while on a road trip, do a variation:
- Find A-Z on the slides
- Find it from what letter the words someone says start with
- Find objects in the room or in the background of your classmates’/teacher’s screen that start with the letters A-Z
You make a category such as dog names, countries, verbs, states, etc..
Write down as many words are you can think of for that category.
If you want to make it more challenging, there are some variations:
- Set a time limit (either use a timer on your phone or do it until your professor goes to the next slide)
- Pick a letter for each category and then only write down words that start with that letter
- Write down anything for the first one and then make each one after that start with the last letter in the word before it (Ex: The category is animals: Dog, Gopher, Rabbit…)
Play online games
Some online games include:
I play Wordle every day. It is my fav! I also really like Sudoku, but I don’t play very much because I go on forever once I start.
Surf the web
Google anything that you are curious about.
Check out Wikipedia, Reddit, or Quora.
I guarantee you that you will have no trouble passing the time in class once you go down the rabbit hole.
Make a Wish List
Start a Google doc or Note with your wish list. Go to some of your favorite online stores or check out Pinterest for ideas. Add the links to your list.
Start an Amazon wishlist.
When your next birthday or Christmas comes around (or whenever you go on your next shopping spree), you will have lots of ideas for gifts ready.
Warning: Do not shop online during a boring online class. You will end up spending way too much money simply because of boredom. Your wallet can thank me later.
Take a personality test
Find out more about yourself by taking a personality test.
Figure out your love language
Another way to learn more about yourself is to figure out your love language.
Take online quizzes
Fill in a MadLibs
MadLibs is where you are given a passage, and you have to fill in blanks with specific parts of speech (Add an adjective, or a verb, or a proper noun, etc…). You probably remember doing MadLibs as a kid.
See if you still find them fun.
Here are two sites that have MadLibs online:
Scroll through your social media feeds (use the device you are taking the online class on so that it looks like you are still looking at your camera).
Take a Virtual Tour
Explore a museum with a virtual tour.
Watch live animals
This site has a ton of different live animals cams.
Make sure that you mute this!
Also, if you have slow internet, you will want to avoid this so that you don’t cause your Zoom connection to buffer.
Now you have over 35 ideas of things that you can do when bored in online class without getting in trouble or being disruptive.
Your teacher shouldn’t even be able to tell that you are doing any of these!
Bookmark this page for the next time you need to know what to do when bored in an online class without getting in trouble.
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 earphones 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 stand is an easy and affordable way to do this.
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 computer. 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 resource that I made for you!