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Tips for studying online

A smiling student sits at a desk with an open laptop and with notebooks

Remote learning has become prominent in recent times, acting as a lifesaver within the education sector when people everywhere were forced to stay home during the pandemic.

But learning online can have benefits beyond being a replacement for when teaching in person is not allowed. Completing schoolwork, a training course or a degree through virtual classrooms and video conferencing allows for flexibility for those with busy schedules, allows learners to study at their own pace and allows students to save on commuting and accommodation fees - all whilst still receiving expert tutoring and gaining friends in your fellow classmates.

Here are some tips to thrive within an online learning environment.

Reduce distractions

At home, there are a plethora of distractions, and these can be an obstacle in your learning.

Family members might be being loud in the next room or a pet may be suddenly drawn to sitting on your keyboard. These distractions can normally be controlled by reminding others to be quiet when you are studying or putting your pet in another part of the house, but some distractions are down to you.

Going on your phone or watching just one more YouTube video is always tempting when studying alone, and the more you do it, the more study time is eaten.

Tackle this distraction by putting your phone alerts on silent. Every time you pick up your phone to answer a text, your mind is pulled away from what you are studying and you may find yourself doing other stuff on your phone. If you can put your phone in a different room, or download an app like Flipd or Offtime, even better.

Close tabs on your browser that are not directly linked to your study, and put on some study music through headphones. Knowing you have to pause the music to watch a video, for example, is an extra barrier to going through to stop you doing so.

Make study plans

Remote learning often means working independently. You may have scheduled lessons but, much like in-person teaching, you are left to own devices of how to study outside of these.

Furthermore, for many people, procrastination from studying can take hold, especially when they are in their own home instead of a dedicated learning space like a classroom or library.

To get over these issues, you can make a plan of when you are going to study. First, work out when you have free time each week throughout the rest of the semester. Then, write down the course content you need to complete, such as writing an essay or studying for a test.

On a calendar, schedule the tasks you need to complete into these free time slots. Color code your plans, dividing up different modules or topics. Having a clear plan means you will feel more motivated to get started with your independent study, will ensure you stay on track and will make you feel less overwhelmed.

Remember, be realistic. You have to have enough time to actually do your tasks to a good standard and should leave some free spaces for when you feel like you want to go back over a topic you have already studied. Also, make sure you schedule for study breaks!

Most importantly, though, is be kind to yourself. Undergoing any online program is a huge and impressive thing to do. If you fall behind on your study plan, it is perfectly understandable, and getting stressed and punishing yourself will only take up more time.

Ask for help

When you are left to your own schedule you may feel overwhelmed or that you are falling behind, and not being in the same room as your tutors might make you feel less willing to reach out.

Remember, this is what they are here for. Your teachers are passionate about their subject matters and care about your success, and are willing to give you as much attention as if you were a student sitting at a desk in front of them.

When studying online, you will have your tutors’ contact details and will have live teaching in which you can ask them any questions. Your tutor will be willing to have one-on-one time to help you catch up.

Don’t worry about being an inconvenience – this is what you are paying for!

Learn how your learn

Everyone’s minds work differently, so, naturally, students’ minds all learn differently.

Perhaps you are a kinaesthetic learner, meaning you learn by doing. For example, the best way for you to be able to master math equations is by completing practice questions until you can recall the steps and apply them.

An auditory learner will be able to learn from just listening to the tutor talk about a subject or a problem, and recall the information this way. A good method of revision could be to record yourself talking through a topic and listen to it back.

You could be a visual learner, meaning you will excel in a topic by watching someone demonstrate it or by watching a video on it. If you find a concept that is part of your course tricky, a good place to start is watching a YouTube video on it – you will be sure to find a visual walk-through piece on almost every subject!

The sooner you learn what style of learning works best for you, the sooner your remote study process will be efficient and you will feel like you are making strides.

Collaborate with classmates

If you are struggling with a piece of course content, the chances are that some of your classmates will be, too. Making your concerns known to your peers will bring to light problems you share and you will be able to support each other in your learning.

Make a course group chat for every person on your course or everyone taking a particular module. This way, you can easily ask questions about the logistics of your course, deadlines and course content and quickly get an answer.

You don’t have to be finding a topic difficult to collaborate with others, though. Working together can be great for revision and building knowledge.