As many universities, colleges, and language schools make the transition from on campus learning to online study, your studying habits may require adjustment. Online learning isn’t always easy, but there are a few ways you can set yourself up to ensure you get the most out of your studies. We have put together 5 tips to help you succeed while studying online, no matter where you are.
1. Create a proper study environment
It can be extremely tempting to jump on the lounge, throw on a blanket and curl up to watch your lecture or participate in a class. However, as the lounge room is often the centre of our homes, it can also be the busiest room, with family or housemates coming and going, the lure of television or visible dirty dishes calling your attention from the kitchen. You will also have to pack up your laptop and notebooks at the end of every day and put them away, only to bring them out again the next day.
That is why it is a good idea to set up your study area in a room that no one else is in, where you can spread out your materials and not have to worry about moving them at the end of every day. Find a quiet place with a proper desk and chair and take the time to set up your space with necessary stationery and personal items. When you enter this room or area you should feel as if you have entered your ‘study zone’. It is preferable if this space is separate from where you sleep. There is scientific evidence to suggest that studying where you sleep makes it more difficult to fall asleep at night since your brain is still in a place of work. If that isn’t entirely possible, at least try to separate the study area away from your bed, and avoid the temptation to climb back in there!
2. Make a routine
Once you have your classes and timetable for the semester, you can start creating a study routine just as you would if you were on campus. Allow yourself plenty of time to sit down and read through the materials before each lesson, as well as time afterwards to properly digest the information. Don’t forget to account for plenty of breaks and time with family and friends around the time you allocated for classes and study.
While studying at home it can definitely be easy to fall out of bed and roll into your morning class. However, creating an effective morning routine can make you feel switched on and ready for the day. A lot of successful people (including Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook & Richard Branson) all start their day by warming their body up with exercise. You could try going for a quick jog or simply take 10 minutes to meditate or drink a warm beverage. Taking this time for yourself in the morning will prepare you to conquer the day.
3. Keep in touch with your teachers
Although you might not be seeing your tutor every day, it is still important to keep in regular contact. An email once a week to ensure you are on track with your work and where the course is going will probably suffice. Most importantly, know who the key contacts are at your learning institution so you can get in touch if you have any stress or concerns. Be aware that your tutors are also very busy and may take some time to respond, but don’t let that put you off reaching out.
4. Make group chats
Online video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Hangouts or Discord make it easier than ever to keep in touch with your study mates. Use these tools to set up regular meetings where you can discuss ideas, analyse readings and swap study tips. This is a great way to maintain the collaborative aspect of your course and also provide some social interaction to ensure you do not feel too isolated.
5. Celebrate your wins
Putting in hours of self-directed learning isn’t easy and deserves to be celebrated. Working towards a qualification to create a better future for yourself counts for something, and your motivation and self-discipline should be rewarded. Let your friends and family know if you hit a deadline, submitted a piece of assessment, nailed an exam or simply worked hard all week. Friends and family can be your biggest cheer squad and want to celebrate with you. So when you’ve worked hard, be sure to treat yourself to a nice dinner or drink (even if it has to be at home because of restrictions) or simply treat yourself to some rest and relaxation. You deserve it!
Online study might be your reality for the foreseeable future so it’s best to be prepared to give yourself the best chance of success. Like all change, it might take some adjustment until you find the right balance that works for your at home study schedule. But by creating a proper study environment, making a routine, keeping in touch with your teachers and peers, and rewarding yourself for your hard work, you will be on your way in no time.