These are unprecedented times. Entire nations are under lockdown and people are forced to stay indoors to protect themselves and the rest from the deadly COVID-19. As uncertainty looms over the future, many universities and schools have started resorting to online lectures.
Now while the thought of studying at home sounds blissful (you can attend lectures in pajamas while sipping your coffee!), it can get a bit difficult trying to regulate your learning sessions if you don’t focus and practice self-discipline. Various distractions at home might interfere with your online learning, so you need to stay focused.
Yes, it may take some time – both for parents as well as students – to adjust to this idea of remote learning, but with easy-to-use apps like Zoom, to online classroom tools like Google Classroom etc., the entire process has been simplified greatly so that even first timers can adapt easily.
Online learning is a fantastic way to learn and gain knowledge in a flexible environment. In such stressful times, online learning can help shift your focus from the depressing news channels to something productive and worth your attention and time.
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We are listing below a few tips that might help you with your online learning while you’re required to stay-at-home.
18 Best Online Learning Tips for Students:
1. Choose your space wisely
As we mentioned before, it is easy to get distracted at home, so it is important that you choose your online learning space carefully. Go for an area where no one is likely to disturb you so that you can stay focused on your session.
2. Don’t forget to take notes
This is extremely important. Before attending an online lecture, don’t forget to grab a notebook and a pen to jot down the important notes. Yes, we know that some of you might be able to rewind and play the whole thing again, but taking notes helps you retain whatever is being taught better.
3. Make sure you’re comfortable
It is best to take online learning sessions with your laptop/computer placed on a desk, but if that is not possible, just make sure the place where you’ll be sitting with your device is comfortable enough – both for attending the lecture and taking notes. Make sure to keep everything you might need during the session within easy reach.
4. Take breaks
Face-to-face lecture is one thing, but online lectures can get monotonous and boring. So utilize the time you have between the scheduled lectures to move around a bit and relax. Grab something to eat, or maybe listen to some soothing music. This will help keep your mind fresh and rejuvenated.
5. Prepare a timetable
A lot of people are joking these days that they do not even know what day of the week it is. When you’re required to stay home 24*7 for weeks, it is easy to lose track of time…or days! This is when a carefully prepared timetable comes to your rescue. Work out a study schedule for yourself and try to adhere to it. Do the relevant reading beforehand so that you are well prepared for your online lecture. Don’t hesitate in asking questions if you don’t understand something.
6. Make sure you have everything required for online learning
Online lectures will require a fairly well-functioning computer and a good internet connection. Some students already own these things but if you don’t, speak to your tutor or your student services office about how this can be facilitated. There may be spare laptop computers you can borrow, or you could join a small group of other students to study together. Make sure you have enough stationery (pens, highlighters, notebooks etc) and the correct books or articles to study from, whether hard copies or digital editions.
7. Participate in group chats
There are quite a few online tools like Zoom and Skype that you can download for free and use to schedule video chats with fellow students. You can create virtual study groups to discuss ideas, understand lessons and swap study tips. This is also a great way to ensure you don’t feel too isolated or lonely studying alone as it allows you to stay in touch with your classmates and friends.
8. Stay in touch with your lecturers
You may no longer be able see your tutors during their regular office hours, but ensure that you keep in contact with them on a regular basis. Perhaps an email once a week or even every few days to ensure you are of any developments in your courses. Additionally, if you are feeling anxious or stressed, speaking to your tutor could help to alleviate any concerns you might have.
9. Maintain healthy habits
Your brain, like the rest of your body, needs rest. So make it a point to get the necessary sleep – binge-watching shows on Netflix at night can wait! Also, it is very important to exercise and keep yourself healthy and fit. We know that many of you can’t hit the gyms or go for morning jogs, but you can practice yoga and meditation at home. And don’t forget to drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
10. Make your learning stick
Take advantage of the established learning science principles of practice, application, and reflection. To ensure your newly learned knowledge and skills stick with you, it’s important to repeatedly practice skills, apply knowledge in different contexts, and reflect on what you have learned, especially as you practice and apply in new settings. A well-designed learning experience will provide you with opportunities to practice, apply, and reflect, but you can reinforce your learning outside of a class by connecting it to your everyday life and work.
11. Keep the important information accessible
Collect the phone numbers, email addresses, and support links for your institution in one place so, if and when you need it, you don’t have to go hunting. For example, who are the TAs for the course and how do you contact them? If you have technical issues, which department do you contact?
12. Treat study like a job
Always remember, study is your work. Consciously choose to show up, absorb wonderful content available to you, schedule in assessments, lectures, tasks, and really set and keep those boundaries. Have a success-oriented mindset – it might be difficult in these trying times, but you can try. Implement firm boundaries. Keep a schedule like your life depends on it.
Yes, you might argue that this is the only way to stay connected with the outside world in this time of crisis, but surely you can limit your time on Instagram or Facebook! Since the computer screen is an online student’s classroom, it may be difficult to resist the temptation to see how many ‘Likes’ your latest post received. The best way to minimize such distractions would be to log off for a while. By logging off and not having your social media pages up, you’ll be able to focus more on what you’re reading or on the assignment you’re working on.
14. Use online resources
Use any of the student resources that are available. For instance, your college has an online library which offers sources for assignments. Another resource that is sometimes available is a writing center. If you need your paper fixed or just have a question on formatting, the writing center can help.
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15. Choose to browse intelligently
You have the entire world at your fingertips. You can research entire events from history in color, or have a renowned mathematician take your hand and work you through a problem, or a scientist explain to you how exactly your solar system works. Use your time and resources wisely.
16. Don’t wait for deadlines
Most students find themselves putting in a lot of work on the day an assignment is due. It is always better to pretend that everything is due one day early, so that you have a little extra time if needed. For bigger assignments, such as outlines and essays, it is beneficial to set a personal deadline to finish 2 days before the actual deadline. Two days is an ideal time to do extra revision and editing to any work. It allows 1 day for rest and 1 day to revisit the work with clear eyes. That one day could mean catching errors in grammar that were missed in the original revision process and making a satisfactory grade into an excellent one.
17. Minimize reliance on WiFi
If possible, use an ethernet cable and download course materials to work offline. Many online courses work in mobile, too, but others do not. Have a plan for Internet access.
18. Remember that your lecturer is new to this too
Lastly, if you’re feeling anxious about this entire online learning experience, just remember that your instructor is as nervous as you are. Yes, this might be your first time learning online, but it also might be your teacher’s or professor’s first time teaching online. Just be patient and expect some hiccups.
With inputs from: