As universities and colleges gear up for the fall semester, online classes schools are continuing to ensure proper safety and social distancing measures amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many institutions have announced plans to offer courses primarily online. While blended, or hybrid, learning – a combination of traditional lectures augmented with online courses – has been a popular choice for many years, students still prefer traditional lectures.
Whether you’ve taken an online class before or find yourself enrolled in one for the very first time, here are five online study tips you can add to your arsenal to make the most of online learning when classes resume this fall.
5 Online Study Tips
In these unprecedented times, you may find yourself juggling a larger than normal online course load. For international students, predominantly online learning poses an additional challenge. International students often rely on the traditional classroom experience to meet new friends and build a support group. The absence of this social interaction can make staying engaged more challenging.
1. Stick to a Schedule
While some online lectures will be live, many will be pre-recorded and available on-demand. On-demand offers several advantages, including the ability to watch lectures at a time that best suits you. However, this requires discipline to keep on top of your coursework and not fall behind. This is especially important as three, four, or even five of your classes may be entirely online.
To ensure you’re not scrambling to play catch up just before a midterm or final exam, try blocking off the same time in your calendar every week for each of your pre-recorded lectures. That way you “show up” ready to learn at a predetermined time, just as you would a live online lecture or one held in the classroom. It doesn’t matter if you choose 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday evening or 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning – as long as you’re consistent, you’re already halfway there!
2. Dedicate a Space for Study
The library. The quaint local coffee shop that serves up delicious avocado toast and a killer espresso. These are just two favourite study spots, offering respite from a chatty roommate and a quiet place to work. They’re successful in helping you focus because they’re associated with study, not play. However, with social distancing measures in place, they are suddenly not as accessible or practical as they once were.
Now, students live, eat, study, and work in a single environment. With student dorms and apartments being notoriously small, most students don’t have the luxury to dedicate an entire room for studying purposes. However, even reserving a small nook in your bedroom or devoting your desk just for schoolwork helps you get in the zone and check off those items on your to-do list. When you plunk down your stack of books and open your laptop, you’ll know it’s time to work.
Make sure your space is well lit, and don’t forget to stock it with all of the things you’ll need to get the job done, like your favourite pencils, pens, and notebook, as well as a reminder of home.
3. Avoid Distractions
Admittedly, this tip is easier said than done! We live in a world where a million things seemingly vie for our attention at any given moment, easily distracting us from our studies. If scrolling through Instagram is your weakness, there are apps, like OFFTIME, that will temporarily lock you out of your social media accounts, or even your phone. This will allow you to focus your time and attention on the task at hand. Before you know it, you’ll be free to indulge in those fun distractions once again.
4. Stay Connected
Although in-person access to your professors or instructors might be limited, or even non-existent, they remain an invaluable resource for you to lean on. Indeed, now more than ever, it’s important to stay connected. In addition to more traditional email communication, they might also offer virtual office hours. Don’t forget, they’re also navigating this challenging time, so they will be sympathetic to what you’re going through as well.
Another way to stay connected is through the online message board, a feature common to most online classes. It offers an opportunity to discuss course material, give and receive feedback on assignments, and get to know your fellow classmates. (While participation is often merely encouraged, sometimes it can actually be factored into your final grade.)
In these times of social distancing, getting to know your classmates via the message board is an excellent way to stay connected, offer mutual support, and even exchange your own tips for thriving in the world of academia amid COVID-19. After all, your fellow students are experiencing many of the same challenges, emotions, and feelings that you are. Some might also be studying abroad, which could be the foundation of a new friendship.
5. Give Yourself a Break
These are unprecedented times. You’re living far from home and your support system, and the way you’re used to learning and the entire school experience has been turned upside down. Thriving during a pandemic doesn’t come with a playbook. Slip-ups and down days are inevitable. If you miss a live online lecture or fall behind on an assignment, be kind to yourself, learn from your mistake, and then keep pushing forward. Take it one day at a time. When this is over, you’re going to have a great story to tell about how you studied abroad during a global pandemic!