How to make the most of online learning

Updated: May 16, 2020

1. Set goals

In order to study effectively online it’s really important to set goals. If you have decided to study a Biology topic in the morning, write down what you want to achieve by the end of the study session. For example, “I want to understand transport in cells”. Goal setting will enable you to keep a track of what you’re learning.

2. Create a study schedule

Without a plan of what you want to learn and when, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. A study plan helps you maximise and prioritise the areas that are urgent or the most important. A good way to create a plan is to list all of the subjects you need to study, figure out what you need to do for each subject/exam, prioritise your list and then finally divide your available time during the week into study blocks.

3. Internet

A good internet connection is a must when it comes to online learning. If you’re participating in a video call with a tutor or a group study session and you find that your internet connection is slow, a good tip is to remove your video function. This should help speed up the connection. Ideally, find a place in your house that has the best connection and set up a study area for yourself there. It’s important to avoid getting distracted on the internet too. Only have your study documents open, that excludes YouTube and Facebook!

4. Mobile Phone

If you’re using a desktop computer or a laptop, put your phone on silent or place it in another room to stop the temptation of wanting to use it whilst studying. If you must keep your phone next to you for whatever reason, put it on airplane mode. This will prevent you receiving calls and messages and accessing apps whilst you’re studying!

5. Breaks

There’s nothing worse than staring at a screen for hours only to realise you’ve read the same paragraph five times! It’s important to give yourself study breaks to keep positivity and motivation high. It’s widely understood that productivity dwindles after around 50 minutes, so set yourself small, but regular breaks to give you a boost.

6. Headphones

If you’ve got a noisy sibling or live by a busy construction site, concentrating on your work can be impossible. Use headphones to listen to online seminars or simply to block out any other sound. If you don’t have headphones, earplugs will do the job and help to create a quiet study environment for you.

7. Make sure everything you need

We all love to find ways to distract ourselves when studying. Whether you’ve finally decided that it’s time to clear your room or take the dog for a walk, it’s easy to procrastinate. A great habit is to make sure that you are equipped with everything you need before you start the session. Ensure you have your notepad, pen and a bottle of water, but also make sure your study environment is ready before you begin!

8. Note taking

Taking notes is an essential part of learning, however, you’ll need to adapt your skills for online learning. The old-fashioned way of taking notes by hand on pen and paper might sound time consuming, but it’ll prevent you from clicking back and forth between documents on your laptop. If you prefer to type out your notes then there are some great apps such as Evertnote, Microsoft OneNote or Simplenote. If you don’t fancy those, then there’s the ever-reliable Microsoft Word. Try and mix up your notes with diagrams and remember, don’t write or type everything you hear or read, identify the main themes. Too many notes could end up with an information overload!

9. Test yourself

Testing yourself is a crucial part of learning because you have to make the effort to pull information from your memory. When we read and study online, we often passively scan through the page without registering the impact and meaning of certain words. Asking a sibling or parent to ask you questions for you to recite the answer is one way of testing yourself. Alternatively, try and explain topics to them in your own words to ensure you have grasped a strong understanding of them.

10. Join online study groups

There are many benefits to studying with others online. Scheduling regular study sessions can help eliminate procrastination and make sure you don’t leave all your learning to the last minute. Learning with others could also fill in gaps in your notes, you can also benefit from sharing ideas. Setting up some group study sessions would also help to keep learning interesting and break up the monotony of studying alone.

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