In 2021, many educational institutions around the world will be taking their courses online. Therefore, it’s key that you learn how to study at home effectively to ensure you receive great grades and maintain your mental and physical health. Here are a few tips for studying online from home.
Set up the perfect home office
Once you’ve worked out how to enrol in your online course, your first step should be to set up a dedicated workspace in your home – preferably not inside your bedroom and certainly not on your bed! Over time, studying in a specific part of your home will train your brain to associate that location with study, and you may find that it’s easier to switch to study mode whenever you’re in that spot.
You might also be wondering, “What do I need to study at home?” A dedicated desk and comfortable work chair are crucial. As well, consider the height of your screen; the centre of your screen should be at eye level. Use textbooks to prop up your screen to the correct height to avoid neck and shoulder pain, and spend some time researching how to ergonomically set up your workspace.
Maintain a set routine
You might be asking yourself, how can you motivate yourself to study at home? It’s important to set a daily timetable and stick to it. Students studying online can struggle to maintain a good study/life balance, with far too many hours spent in front of the screen – but this is a quick path to burnout. Instead, taking regular breaks and signing off at a reasonable hour is important for your mental and physical health, which will in turn have a positive impact on your studies.
As you are spending so much time in front of a screen, you might also want to skip the post-study Netflix session and give your eyes and body a rest. Consider getting outdoors for a walk, joining a social sports club or heading to the gym. Alternatively, you could give a friend or family member a call, read a book or get creative in the kitchen.
Research the best technology for studying at home
It’s worth getting familiar with the technology you’ll be required to use when you’re studying online. This includes obvious equipment like your computer, which will need to be compatible with all the necessary hardware and software and have a strong internet connection, as well as elements specific to your course, such as video conferencing software, the online library, assessment submission, communication tools and tech support.
While adapting to all this new technology may seem overwhelming, education providers are doing all they can to make technology work in their students’ favour. Your educational institution is there to support you and teach you how to study online classes.
International student Shan Dai is currently studying for a Master of Health Information Management at La Trobe University. She says that the technical support available has optimised how many students study online, even away from the library’s resources.
“La Trobe’s VPN service allows me to review the full text of papers or other learning materials through Google Scholar while studying online,” she says.
Hack your study habits
Many students ask, “Are online courses easier?” However, when studying online from home, you’ll need to consider the additional self-discipline required. Managing the workload and staying focused and motivated are common concerns for students who are studying online.
To improve your focus at home, you can try the Pomodoro technique. It’s a form of time-blocking that helps you concentrate on tasks, maintain your motivation and meet deadlines. As well, taking notes by hand rather than typing can help commit new information to memory. You could also consider turning off notifications on your phone or computer to minimise distractions.
Seek support when you need it
The lack of face-to-face interaction can be a daunting aspect of online study, but educational institutions encourage students to reach out for help, whether the problem is big or small. Education providers such as La Trobe University are supporting students in the migration to online study through multiple services and initiatives organised by the International Student Services team, including the eFriends program the International Student Lounge. Plus, lecturers are implementing new measures to ensure the course content is thoroughly understood by their students.
Shan says, “My teachers are very supportive – my lecturers are doing extra question-and-answer sessions, and some of the material actually feels more accessible.”
You might also want to research the community organisations you can join through your education provider. Specific faculties or courses may set up Facebook groups to help you stay connected while you’re studying remotely, or there might be virtual English Conversation Clubs on offer. Make an effort to start group chats with your peers so you don’t miss out on getting to know other students.