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Online Learning Guide

Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

With the transformation and high adoption in technology along with the levied Covid-19 restrictions, many classes are only offered online. When schools switched to delivering virtual courses, it became easier for some students to study from the comfort of their own homes. However, it is difficult for other individuals to learn from home, especially if you are juggling school and work. It also involves mixing your family life with your school life, which isn’t always easy for everyone. It can be difficult for individuals living in small spaces with roommates, children, or even parents to concentrate and find a quiet area to study. Usually, students use a library to escape from all the chaos, but most of those are closed now. Learning online consists of a lot of self-discipline, a change in study habits, and organization skills. You are also required to create your own learning environment to focus and excel in your classes. But with the right mindset and goals, you can achieve success in online learning.

Here is a guide to make learning online a little easier while balancing it with your everyday life. These tips and advice can help you tackle the unique challenges of online school. By creating these habits, you won’t only do better in school, you will also develop skills that will last you a lifetime. If you follow these steps effectively and in ways that work for you, you’ll find studying online can have many advantages.

  • Time Management

Time management is an essential skill when studying online. You might spend all day working, taking care of your children, or just trying to schedule some relaxation time for yourself. If you focus on time management, you can find a way to fit everything into your life. First, buy a big calendar or an agenda and write out the dates at the start of the semester. Teachers or professors usually give a syllabus at the beginning of the semester, which lays out all of the important dates for assignments and exams. This way you won’t be freaking out last minute and can plan out your study time well in advance around your schedule. Next, start studying by writing a to-do list of things to do that day. Waking up early and getting your tasks out of the way is another great way to give yourself time for other responsibilities in the evening. In an article in “Psychology Today”, they mentioned, “It’s possible to manipulate your dopamine levels by setting small goals and then accomplishing them.” You can start with minor goals like reading a few pages in your textbook or even attending class and writing notes. Now, studying for an exam can be stressful. It can feel like you are cramming everything last minute and not retaining any information. A technique I like to use is the Pomodoro Technique. This technique involves 25-minute intervals of studying separated by 5-minute breaks. Once you have completed four 25-minute intervals, you can start taking 15-minute breaks in between. This technique helps create time to really retain all of the information and still feel at ease.

  • Set up a study space

With libraries being closed, it can feel like you aren’t able to focus the same at home. When I moved back home after four years and finished my last semester in my old bedroom, I was frustrated. I missed sitting in a classroom where you can force yourself to focus. To make myself feel better, I set up a new desk and surrounded it with a lamp, a whiteboard with reminders, my schedule, and pictures to make myself feel better when I’m stressed. You can find these items at your local dollar store or Walmart. There’s a variety of affordable desks that can be found at Ikea as well. Amazon also has a variety of new economical tools that can help you work or study from home. A great tool can be a portable, folding table where the tray with legs sits on top of your bed. Some even come with a holder for your coffee cup and phone! Or if you want something a bit more sturdy, you can get an adjustable laptop table where the legs go under your bed and the table floats over your bed. This is great for small spaces and is more organized than just sitting on your bed.

  • Studying Tips

Being able to focus has been the most challenging part of studying online. An important rule is keeping your distractions away. Make sure to keep your phone away from you and turning off unnecessary notifications when you’re studying can be helpful. Tuning out noise can sometimes be difficult with family members or roommates. I like to put on headphones and listen to instrumental music. In a 2007 study from the Stanford University School of Medicine, “classical music can help your brain absorb and interpret new information more easily.” Noise-canceling headphones can also be a great way to drown out sounds like cars, dogs, people in your house, etc.

Learning what type of learner you are can also be very effective. Some people learn better by listening and some learn better by applying their knowledge. For visual learners, flow charts and diagrams can be a great way to organize your thoughts. It involves putting everything into a process and seeing how different things relate. I also like to explain my answers to others or read my notes aloud to better understand the subject. Next, reviewing your notes after class is crucial. This will prevent you from needing to cram everything right before the exam. When it is an exam that involves a lot of memorization, I also try to test myself with Q-Cards on terms I keep forgetting. You can also test yourself on previous exams online or practice questions that your teacher posts. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes during class, it can be hard to ask questions in front of everyone, so schedule an online meeting with your teacher during their office hours or any time outside of class. Or even just shoot them an email. This way your teacher will know you are trying to do better in the course and explain it to you.

  • Wellness Tips

Taking care of your mental and physical health is essential when studying. Eating right is another vital part when studying. Many people miss out on meals and the nutrition that they need when studying for an exam. It is important to keep a healthy diet and to snack on brain food like fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc. Food with “protein helps your brain sends messages to the rest of your body, and helps create brain chemicals that improve your mood.” Smoothies are also a great way to get an abundance of nutrients at once! A study by Harvard Medical School found, “exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means.” To add, it also helps improve “mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety.” Even 15 minutes of going for a walk or jog can go a long way. I also like to meditate for 15 minutes to better retain what I study and begin my day stress-free.

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