Over the past two years, online learning has skyrocketed. Just as many office workers are now enjoying working from home, many students are also looking at how to study online instead of attending a traditional classroom setting in person. Of course, studying remotely is different from doing it in a face-to-face environment, so we’ve compiled a list of our favourite online study tips for anyone currently enrolled in online education. Read on for our best tips, tricks and hacks to help you make the most of your online learning!
Hold Yourself Accountable
At uni, even in an online course, there’s no detention. If you fail to hand in your assignment on time, the online instructor won’t punish you, but they won’t pull you up on the issue either. This is self-directed learning – the only person who will benefit from the success of your online study is you. The only person who will face consequences if you’re not sticking to your study plan is you. Taking control of your remote learning experience early and responsibly will set you up best for the long term.
Create a Dedicated Study Space
Sure, you aren’t travelling to campus to study. You still need a place dedicated to online study. Think about it this way. To work out, you go to the gym. To cook, you head into the kitchen.
Treat study the same way. To study, you should be in your own study space. Your study space should be tidy, with plenty of natural light and a high-speed internet connection so you don’t miss a moment of your online learning experience. On that note…
Reliable Internet Access
When you’re studying online, a reliable connection isn’t just preferable. It’s an absolute must. In order to attend lectures and tutorials, you need internet at sufficient speed and reliability to get everything done without interruptions.
If that means upgrading your wi-fi, so be it. One tip we have is that, often, your smartphone’s mobile data connection can be faster than the wi-fi in your home. Try using the mobile hotspot setting on your smartphone to see if it helps boost your speed!
Remove External Distractions
When it comes to setting aside dedicated time for your study, that means you need to focus. During a video lecture or tutorial, it’s good to avoid the temptation to open a separate tab and browse the internet.
Eliminate distractions so you can focus on your online studies.
If that means leaving your phone in another room, so be it. Staying on task can sometimes feel more challenging with all the temptations and distractions available at home, but you will find online study to ultimately be far more rewarding if you can stay on task.
If you’re finding yourself easily distracted, staring at a blank page, or mindlessly scrolling your social media, immediately remove yourself from the situation.
Often, distraction is our brain’s way of telling us we need to take a break.
If you’re finding yourself distracted, take a short break. Of all our online study tips, this is the only one that involves not studying! Taking breaks when they’re offered, whether that’s in between classes or later in the day, is one of the best ways that you can stay on task.
On your break, drink some water, have a healthy snack, and move around. Leave your online learning space and get some fresh air so when you return you’re refreshed and ready for another round.
Manage your time proactively
Jocko Willink famously said that discipline equals freedom. When it comes to time, he recently told Forbes that “If you want more free time, you have to follow a more disciplined time management system”.
Make sure you know ahead of time how long tasks will likely take you, and how much time you need to complete them to a sufficient standard. Avoid easy distractions and delaying tactics; if you can stay disciplined in your time management, you’ll be surprised at how much more free time you’ll have in your day.
Use A Screen Timer
Your phone may already have an app that can do this! Most modern smartphones come with an app or widget that will tell you how long you’re spending on your phone each day. You can also do this with your computer, to help you make sure that you’re sticking to your pre-determined study schedule.
This is a great, intuitive way to help you stay productive and engaged while studying from home.
Work With Your Learning Style
William Shakespeare famously told us “to thine own self be true”. By now, you probably have a good idea of how you prefer to learn best. Are you a visual or logical learner? Do you prefer audio notes or tactile, hands-on learning experiences? Consider your skills and interests as they will likely tell you the way you learn best. If you’ve always thrived on team sports, social learning probably helps. Many musicians learn well by themselves and learn well by repetition.
Some people only need to hear things once to retain them, while others might learn better by writing it down. Find which learning methods work best for you and online study will become much easier!
Collaborate Early and Often
It’s easy to feel isolated when you’re studying online or remotely. We’re social by nature and because of this, it’s important to be proactive and engage with your online classmates whenever you can.
Make a Facebook group or Whatsapp chat with some of your classmates where you can discuss the coursework. Maybe they can help with homework you’re doing, or you could help them! Work together and you’ll all enjoy the course more, and likely enjoy your improved results, too.
Make the Most of Your Network
Your study buddies don’t have to be limited to your fellow classmates or other students. Your parents, friends, and wider network all know why you’re studying. You could be working towards a particular career, refreshing your current skills, or just curious about the world.
Call home, talk to your social network and let them help you where they can.
Sure, you could just take notes during lectures, hand in your work on time, and study when it suits you. But are you getting the most out of your online study experience?
Engage yourself by asking questions. Actively participate in class discussions. The course leader is there to help, and they’re an invaluable resource with years of experience in the area you’re studying. Engage with your fellow students, and consider reading outside your prescribed materials if you could use an extra opinion.
Commit To A Timetable
Before each week, look at how much time you have available to commit to online study. Set yourself a weekly schedule and commit to it. Often, studying online is self-paced, so you can learn as quickly or as slowly as you like, but you’ll need a minimum time investment in order to get the most out of your experience. You probably have other commitments outside of study, so be sure you’re leaving enough time for them, too.
Commit yourself to study at certain times and don’t break the commitment to yourself. The best habits are the ones we take the time to commit to consistently. Which leads us to…
Hack Your Brain
Human beings are creatures of habit. We tend to prefer habitual, predictable tasks instead of a constant barrage of new information, especially as we get older. There are two quick and easy hacks you can implement now to make studying online easier.
First of all, try to start your online course at the same time every day. If you know you usually have an hour after dinner, that’s when you do it. Make sure people you live with know that’s your study time, and before long, it will feel weird if you don’t study at that time.
The other trick is to reward yourself in small ways for successful study. Some people eat a single M&M for every paragraph they read or make a cup of tea for every session of test prep. Like Pavlov, you can train yourself to unconsciously associate studying with a tangible reward.
Best Way To Study Online
At the end of the day, the best way to study online is the one that works for you! Everybody is built differently, and you’ll find some tricks work very well for you, while other methods are better suited for your friends or classmates. Try these tips for online learning, and find a combination of them that makes studying easy and enjoyable. Sure, online classes aren’t always as fun as sitting in the sun with your friends, but if you can enjoy the work you’re doing, get better grades, and finish knowing that you got the most out of your online study, that’s a huge win.