Learning online has become the new normal. Most students and teachers are well accustomed to an in-person synchronous learning environment in a classroom or lecture hall setting. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in lessons being delivered online. Navigating this shift has been a difficult transition for many students.
If you have struggled with getting used to learning online, this post is for you. We have put together 10 tips for success in your online course.
- 1 Create a designated workspace
- 2 Stick to your study routine
- 3 Maintain a healthy study-life balance
- 4 Form a virtual study group with your peers
- 5 Use the resources available to you and your study group
- 6 Participate in virtual study group work
- 7 Focus on your career goals
- 8 Check your emails regularly
- 9 Learn how you and your study group work best
- 10 Embrace online study with your study group
- 11 Lead Your Study Group to Victory: 10 Tips for Success in Your Online Course
Create a designated workspace
When studying online from home, you must set up a dedicated workspace. By consistently studying in this area, either by yourself or together with your study group, you will help yourself to establish a routine and begin to associate this space with productive work. It may be tempting to study from your sofa, or bed, however, in the long run, doing so can have a detrimental impact on your productivity and even your posture. With that in mind, here are some top tips for setting up a dedicated, ergonomic workspace that will enhance your study sessions:
- Pick an ideal location. Your options for where you set up your workspace at home may be limited. However, if possible, try to pick a quiet, well-lit area of your house where distractions will be minimal. Ensure that where you pick has a good internet connection and access to power outlets.
- Create an ergonomic space. Ensure that you have a sturdy desk and comfortable chair as a minimum. You can optimise your set up with the use of a footrest, laptop/computer stand, desk lamp and additional accessories such as a wrist support pad and an anti-glare screen.
- Arrange your study equipment nearby your workspace. Ensure that you have everything that you need to study nearby. This may include your notepads, textbooks and stationery.
Setting up a workspace that is conducive to learning can set you up for success when studying for an online course from home.
Stick to your study routine
When attending an educational institution, it is much easier to stick to a routine. After all, you have to consider things such as travel, preparing your lunch and meeting with peers and your study group. These factors encourage us to plan and establish a routine. However, when studying from home it is easy to deviate from your routine, which can have an impact on your studies. Here are some tips for sticking to your routine when studying online:
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day to maintain your sleep pattern and to ensure that you are well-rested during the day.
- Keep up your usual morning routine to ensure that you have some time to eat breakfast
- Take regular breaks throughout the day, just as you would if you were attending a physical location for your studies
Maintain a healthy study-life balance
Maintaining a study-life balance is especially important when studying online. Striking a balance between your studies and personal life is important for maintaining your health and wellbeing. Here is some advice for getting the balance right so that you can maintain your lifestyle:
- Schedule time each day for self-care. Use this time to relax and do what makes you happy. For example, during this time, you could pursue your hobbies or socialise with your family, friends and study group.
- Get active. When studying at home, it might be tempting to stay indoors. However, going for a walk in the park or going to the shops can help you to clear your mind and de-stress during study breaks.
- Set boundaries. Studying, especially in the run-up to exams and assignment deadlines can get intense. However, it is important to set boundaries. For example, you may decide that you won’t study past 10 pm. Alternatively, you might make an agreement with your friends that you will only socialise during the evenings and weekends, or only meet up in your study group during the week.
- Hold yourself accountable. If you are committed to getting the right balance you must stick to your schedule consistently. For example, if you planned to go through a textbook chapter with your study group for an hour, you must do so. Not doing so will have the consequence of eating into your free time to pursue other activities.
Form a virtual study group with your peers
When studying online, it can be difficult to engage and interact with your peers. You may find it beneficial to set up a WhatsApp or Slack group to keep in touch with everyone outside of your lectures.
Additionally, setting up a virtual study group with your peers will help you to stay connected with your fellow classmates. You could set up regular meetings with your study group to have:
- Weekly review sessions – for the study group to go over everything you have learnt in classes each week.
- Exam prep sessions – to go through past exam papers together in your study group
- Social sessions – to chat and discuss non-work-related topics with your study group.
Use the resources available to you and your study group
When studying online, it may seem that help is harder to access. However, remember you still have plenty of resources available to you.
Ask for help. If you are struggling with anything that is impacting your learning experience, your college or university will have resources available to support you. For example:
– If you find yourself in financial difficulty, your educational provider may have a hardship fund and be able to support you
-If you are struggling with your physical or mental health, plenty of help will be available
-If you are struggling with your course, you can get in touch with your academic support team, or ask your study group for help
- Attend virtual office hours. Just because you are studying online, it doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions directly to your tutor. Be sure to frequently schedule a time to speak with your lecturers to ask them questions about your course and to discuss your progress.
- Use external resources. Your course provider will have plenty of resources available to you. However, there are also plenty of external online resources that you can utilise. For example, if you need dissertation printing and binding services, we can help you with this.
Participate in virtual study group work
As you won’t be interacting with your peers face-to-face, you will need to make extra effort to connect with them, either online or via a study group.
Working with and learning from a study group will help you with your growth and development. Additionally, some of your assessments may involve an element of group work. Therefore, you must not let the fact that you will not see your peers face-to-face inhibit your ability to work well together. Only get together in your study group if the pandemic regulations allow you to.
Many lecturers are making use of virtual breakout rooms to divide the class into smaller groups and facilitate group work. If your lecturer is doing this in synchronous sessions, it is important that you attend all lectures and participate fully.
Focus on your career goals
You will want to earn a return on the time and money that you have invested into completing your online course. Therefore, it is vital that you focus on developing your employability skills, throughout your studies.
Qualifications alone will not be enough to ensure that you secure a good graduate job upon graduating. You must be able to demonstrate that you have the employability skills that all recruiters look for in candidates.
There are many ways to gain and develop your employability skills while studying such as: completing virtual internships, placements, or getting a part-time job. It is also worth noting that you will have gained employability skills from taking part in activities such as volunteering, playing a sport or running a club or an official university study group.
Take some time to reflect on your employability skills and where you have gained them. Identify gaps in your skillset and strive to develop your weaker skills.
Doing this will help you immensely when it comes to applying for graduate jobs and preparing for interviews.
Scheduling time to focus on your career and employability skills can help you to stay motivated when studying. Set a goal to achieve your academic targets and to set yourself up to get your first graduate job.
Deciding on what career path is right for you can be very challenging. If you are keen to do everything you can to boost your chances of getting a good job upon graduation, enrol on this free course on How To Get A Graduate Job.
Check your emails regularly
When studying online, email might be the primary mode of communication between you and your lecturers. You may be sent details of upcoming classes, assignments and events via email, therefore, it is very important that you check your emails regularly to avoid missing out on opportunities. In a traditional face-to-face learning environment, your lecturer and even your study group would be able to remind you of important deadlines and updates, however, when studying online, this information may be conveyed via email.
Ensure that you check your email at least once a day and respond to all emails within 24 hours. If you are unable to respond straight away, send a holding email in the meantime to confirm receipt. Getting into the habit of reading and responding to emails promptly will help you to develop your communication skills, which will pay off when you enter the workplace.
You may find it helpful to add your university/college email inbox to your phone and enable notifications to prompt you to check and respond to emails easily.
Similarly, your lecturers may post updates on your online course portal, so be sure to regularly check the forum section for any updates.
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Learn how you and your study group work best
Studying online will allow you to customise your study routine to suit your needs. Here are some tips for optimising your study time:
- Work in alignment with your chronotype. Your chronotype is defined as your propensity to sleep at a particular time during a 24-hour period. Some people feel more alert during the early hours of the morning, whereas others are much more alert at night. Figure out when you and your study group feel most alert during the day and do your studying during these times.
- Understand how you and your study group learn best. The 7 learning styles theory explains that people learn best in different ways. Each of the 7 learning styles includes: visual, kinesthetic, aural, social, solitary, verbal and logical. Tailor your studies to your learning style.
- Tweak your workspace. As mentioned in point 1, getting your workspace right is crucial. However, creating a good setup at home that works for you may involve some trial and error. Ideally, you want to create a comfortable environment that will be conducive of productive work. As you progress with your studies, assess your workspace and continually find ways to improve it.
Embrace online study with your study group
Whilst online study may take some time to adjust to, it has its benefits. For example:
- Studying online gives you more flexibility to maintain your study-life balance and pursue part-time work.
- It encourages you to develop your self-motivation as you will need to independently allocate your time for studying, working and meeting up with your study group.
- You’ll learn how to collaborate remotely with your peers and a study group who may be globally based.
- Developing this skill while studying will be beneficial in the workplace.
Lead Your Study Group to Victory: 10 Tips for Success in Your Online Course
So, there you have it! These were our 10 tips for success in your online course. We hope that the actionable tips shared in this post will help you and your study group to thrive in your online studies!