Learning Math Online

By Scott VanZuiden

I have been teaching math for several years in an online format. Whenever I share with people that I teach math online, they say they could never take a math course online, often questioning whether or not a student can be successful. The quick answer is, “Yes!” There are many great supports in online learning that make taking a math course online very possible.

Here are a few key points that one should consider when taking any online course, but particularly a math course.

Read and Review the Textbook

When reading a math textbook, do not skip over key vocabulary words. These are often the piece of the puzzle that will help you with the homework. Also, review the examples and pay particular attention to the explanations shown for each step in solving a problem. Finally, if the book is online and has interactive material, take advantage of any video or audio clips.

Work Homework Neatly and Show All Steps

So often I have heard students say doing math online is difficult. When I ask them to show their work they say that they cannot show work because it is an online class. Even with online classes, you should keep a notebook working all the problems as thoroughly and neatly as possible. This will allow you to review your work if the answer you input into the computer program is incorrect. Also, be sure you are answering the problem in the format that is being asked. For example, a fraction answer may be desired over a decimal answer, or the fraction may need to be entered as an improper fraction rather than a mixed number.

Use Resources Available

Many times students just want to start their homework assignment without previewing the textbook or viewing video examples. While there are often resources available while you are working through problems, always refer back to the examples in your book or in the videos.

Stay on Schedule

It is often too easy to procrastinate when taking courses online. It is necessary to work on math every day of the week, including weekends. Recommendations would be to work on math every day for one or two hours at a time rather than waiting until the end of the week and working on math for five or six hours straight. At the end of your study time end on a positive note. Make the last problem you work through one that you know you can solve correctly. This is easy in online classes.

These are just a few tips I encourage you to try in your online math class.


Nolting, P. D. (2016). Math Study Skills Workbook. Boston: Cengage Learning.