As the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the globe, schools and universities are beginning to lean heavily on online learning. We at Peninsula Academy have made swift and concerted efforts to offer online class and tutoring, so that students can continue learning and progressing. We host our online learning on Zoom, the world’s leading online education platform that has been used by thousands of universities and schools across the globe.
For students, transitioning to online learning can be a challenge. While school-age students are used to using technology in their learning, completing courses exclusively online is new to the majority. View this transition as an opportunity because online learning is becoming an integral part of schooling and life-long learning. You will benefit tremendously from practicing effective online learning habits as you progress at school, in college, and later in your career.
Practice is the key. And provided below are tips on how to best manage your new online learning environment and how to become an effective online learner.
Set definitive goals at the beginning of your course, and check your progress weekly. In a traditional setting, you’d often receive audio or visual clues of work’s upcoming due date. But without a physical presence proactively reminding you, it’s up to you to make sure you’ve scheduled enough time to complete academic work.
Get a calendar, digital or analog, and make sure to track important dates for your online classes. Make a habit of checking your calendar whenever you have time. This becomes especially important when you’re enrolled in multiple online courses.
If you’re having trouble tracking your work, contact a fellow classmate, or enlist the help from someone you trust—your parents, sibling, your tutor—as oversight insurance. Run them by the due dates of your assignments and enlist their help to get you reminders. By planning beforehand, getting organized, and practicing self-discipline, you can maximize your learning from online classes.
2. Time management
Creating your own schedule is often one of the biggest advantages of online learning. However, that same advantage can lead to detrimental freedom if you do not manage your time carefully. Without effective planning, you might find yourself overwhelmed with last minute preparations and handing in less than stellar assignments. Here are some tips to help you effectively manage your time:
Study your syllabus and take note of major tasks. Mark them on the calendar we discussed earlier and get into the habit of checking it regularly.
Create a weekly schedule that designates specific hours each week to reading, watching lectures, completing assignments, studying, and participating. Commit to making your online coursework part of your weekly routine.
When working on your assignments, try time-segmenting, allocating a certain amount of time for each task. Try setting a timer to keep you on schedule.
Don’t hesitate to check in with your online instructor throughout the course. If your instructor offers regular virtual office hours, mark them on your calendar and attend regularly. There can be misunderstanding when communication is primarily online. Make sure you clearly understand the expectations of your instructor, including readings, assignments, quizzes and exams.
3. Don’t get distracted
From YouTube, to social media, to chores, you’ll be faced with the urge to indulge in all kinds of distractions that can shift your focus from your studies. The most successful online students know how to limit these distractions and set aside time for academics.
These distractions are more or less powerful depending on the kind of personality that you have. Some might be able to study while listening to music. Others might need dead quiet. Some will choose to work from a local coffee shop, others need solitude. You will need to gauge yourself to find out what works best for you.
Whichever style suits you, hone the discipline to sit down and say, “I am going to concentrate,” with the willpower to follow through. Though you can choose when you decide to complete your work during the week, you can’t delay it indefinitely.
Consider taking certain steps to limit your distractions. Turn off your cell phone or set it to airplane mode. Avoid opening additional tabs in your browser. If you’re really struggling with distractions, consider downloading a website blocker. Using applications like Cold Turkey and Freedom can help eliminate distractions by blocking the apps or websites that tend to be compulsive visits, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
4. Create a study room
Set up an environment for studying and use it for every study session. By conditioning yourself to work there consistently, you’ll begin to ingrain the idea that this space is meant for work. It’s important to determine what type of environment will work best for you. Experiment to discover which type of setting helps you stay on task. The most important factor is making sure there’s high-speed internet access so you’re not struggling with technical difficulties while learning.
5. Optimize your learning process
Once you’ve established the optimal location for your learning, think about when and how you do your best work. If you’re a morning person, make time to study in the morning. If you’re more of a night owl, schedule a few hours after dinner to get your work done. If you have other commitments, try to carve out a study session when you free up.
Furthermore, everyone learns differently, so think back to what kind of learning stuck with you best. If you’re a visual learner, print out transcripts of the video lectures to review.
Learn best by audio? Make sure to build time into your schedule to play and replay all audio lectures. Some feel the need to go without taking notes when slides are available for download. You may want to consider taking actual handwritten notes as studies have shown, physically writing down notes (not typing) helps recall later on. Just because the course is digital, doesn’t mean all your materials have to be digital as well. Consider making flashcards, cheat sheets, and all the normal study tools you would if everything weren’t recorded. The simple act of creating these tools will help strengthen your learning.
6. Find a study partner
Finding a study partner or joining a study group can help tremendously. Set up a common goal and work together towards it by holding each other accountable. Ask your partner to remind and encourage you to focus and stay on track, when seeing you slack off a little or get distracted too often, and you will do the same for him/her. Your partner can also be a valuable resource when preparing for exams or getting feedback on assignments. Further, don’t be afraid to turn to them to create a virtual study group, the same way you would in a real physical course. Chances are good that they will appreciate it just as much as you will.
Depending on how the course has been structured, you may have access to a forum to help you converse with other students. Take advantage of these resources and engage with your online peers, the same way you would make a physical study group. This might involve trading papers for peer review, or posting a question about a project you’re working on. Read what other students and your instructor are saying, and if you have a question, ask for clarification. These online systems are built for your participation. If you feel overwhelmed or falling behind, don’t be afraid to speak up and talk to your instructor.
Most online courses are built around the concept of collaboration and team learning, with instructors promoting students to work together to complete assignments and discuss lessons. Build relationships with other students by messaging them or replying to their posts in the chatroom, discussion board, or the online forum, which most online learning platforms provide. Who knows, they may suggest learning resources that you are not aware of, or you may want to take another online course with them in the future. Interacting with your peers is not only good for academics, but for your social well-being, particularly during the current COVID-19 breakout limiting social interaction in real life.
Online Classes and Tutoring at Peninsula Academy
At Peninsula Academy, location is no longer a barrier. No matter where you live, our rigorously selected and trained tutors and counselors are here to help you. In our online sessions, you will work closely with the same high-caliber tutors and counselors as our onsite sessions. You will also have access to the same learning resources as our onsite sessions.