If you haven’t studied online before, the transition to online learning might feel challenging – and that’s okay. It won’t be long until it feels completely normal. Not only that, you will also fall in love with all the great parts of online learning, such as having the freedom to plan your own day, skipping the busy commute, and getting a longer sleep-in. To help you ace the adjustment to this new style of studying, we’ve put together our best tips for online learning.
Plan your day
Online learning leaves you largely responsible for your own schedule. That means it’s important to establish a daily routine that works for you. Without a routine, too much free time may begin to feel overwhelming. It’s a good idea to figure out what time of the day you’re most productive and plan your days around that time. If you’re a morning person, schedule your classes and study time in the morning and leave your downtime for the afternoon. To keep on top of your routine, you can use online or physical to-do lists, calendars and planners.
Set up your study space
Find somewhere in your home that you can use as a dedicated study space. Having a dedicated space to study will help you transition into a focused headspace and will let everyone in your home know that you’re busy studying.
The space should be set up with a comfortable chair, large desk, stationary, textbooks, and a fast internet connection. Since you will be spending a lot of time there, you might also like to add some personal touches, such as motivational quotes, photographs, plants or scented candles.
Connect with your peers
One of the biggest challenges faced by online learners is struggling to connect to other students. When studying online, it is extra important to step outside your comfort zone and build relationships with your peers. This will create a support network for when you struggle with academic or personal problems and will help hold you accountable in your study.
Practice active learning
It’s easy to sit back and listen to a recorded lecture or Zoom class without taking any of the information in. At home, there are more distractions and no one around to make sure you’re paying attention. But if you aren’t engaging with your learning, you’ll have to spend more time catching up later on.
Aim to treat your online classes the same as any in-person class. Ask and answer questions, make the effort to write handwritten notes, and revise any difficult content after class.
Use online tools and resources
Most education institutions offer useful online learning resources to help students transition to online learning. These might include access to the institution’s online library collection, pre-recorded workshops, and PDF resources.
Murdoch University students have access to a 24/7 study platform and course-specific toolkits. They also provide a dedicated website to help you with your online studies and getting set-up at home. There are also many online learning platforms and apps that you can access for free, such as YouTube, TED and Duolingo. You can familiarise yourself with your education institution’s resources by browsing their website, student portal, and by reaching out to student services.
Reach out to your teachers
If you have never met your teacher in person, you might feel awkward reaching out to them for the first time, or embarrassed to ask them a question about the course. However, try to remember that your teachers will be happy to hear from you, and would prefer you to reach out than to struggle alone. Your teachers are there to help and getting to know them will make you feel more connected to your academic community. They may even become important industry connections in the future!
Even if you’re extremely passionate about your course, it’s normal to sometimes feel uninspired by online learning. Shaking up the ways you study might help you find your motivation again. For instance, download your lecture onto your phone and listen to it while you walk in nature, or get out the art supplies and create a mind map.
If you’ve been sitting at your desk and staring at your screen for a long time, it’s probably time to take a break. Try to get outside and move your body, cook something in the kitchen, catch up with a friend, or simply take the weekend off studying if you can.
Ask for help
The transition to online learning can be challenging, and it’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed at times. Just remember that your education institution is always there to help you and point you in the right direction.
Murdoch University offers a dedicated support team for first-year students, as well as a range of online support services for all students. At Murdoch University, for instance, students can access free online peer academic coaching sessions, learning advisor consultations, and counselling services. Make sure to look into the services offered by your own education institution, and always ask for help if you need it.