Online study is an amazing way to upskill and get a new qualification without upending your entire lifestyle. But it can also be a tough learning curve. Many students struggle to find the motivation to succeed at online study without the physical interaction of a classroom. In today’s age, there are often so many resources online that students don’t know where to begin their study journey.
EPIC Assist (EPIC) has prepared ten practical tips to help you navigate and succeed at online study.
Create a schedule
The greatest thing about online study is that you can study whenever you want. Unfortunately, this is also one of the most challenging aspects of online study. Because you’re already on the computer, it’s easy to fall into a habit of spending 90% of your time on social media and only 10% studying. Establish a schedule early in the course and block out dedicated time for study. This plan needs to be sustainable and able to work in conjuncture with your lifestyle and routine. Setting rules around when and where you study can help create a boundary between study and down time.
When studying online, it helps to set goals that will keep you inspired and striving for success. Know what your end goal is and draw energy from it whenever you stumble or hit a hurdle. The best goals are ones that you are personally invested in and can motivate you to stick to a schedule.
Real learning requires engagement. While it can be tempting to listen to a lecture while scrolling through social media, you’ll be kicking yourself come exam time. Experiment and find ways to stay engaged. Whether that be through tests at the end of each chapter or taking notes in your own words, it is important to find a method that will help you succeed at online study. You can find out what type of learner you are, to help tailor your techniques.
Bookmark the world
As an online learner, most of your research and study will happen on the internet. Here, you have the entire world at your fingertips. From microorganisms to art history, there are possibilities galore. But how can you possibly keep track of the entire world? To succeed at online study, it’s important to create a bookmark system that works for you. One of the simplest methods is using your browser’s bookmark function – create a folder for each subject and save any websites that you find particularly useful here.
Browse with filters
Even with bookmarks, it’s easy to become lost in the overabundance of resources online. Many students limit themselves to the Google search box and struggle to find academic or diverse resources. Take the time to learn how to browse with a purpose and use advanced search filters. Some more useful browsing options include Google Scholar, online library catalogues, and digital databases (such as EBSCO – your university probably has a subscription), all of which contain many free digital books and articles.
Use online resources
Universities give you the tools for success, so make sure you use them. Take the time to learn how to navigate your university’s online interface. Click on everything – tabs, links, folders, documents – and know what they mean before you start.
On top of course materials, most universities also have writing centres. These programs are designed to help you get the most out of your experience, achieve your learning goals, and succeed at online study. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you’re struggling, even if you just need help formatting your next assessment.
Learn to troubleshoot connectivity issues
Before beginning your online study journey, familiarise yourself with your computer and learn how to troubleshoot internet connectivity issues. If you are unable to connect to one of your classes or modules, don’t panic. Email your tutor when you are back online and ask for the lesson information. As a backup, it’s always a good idea to keep your internet provider’s details on hand just in case.
One of the biggest misconceptions of online study is that you are in this journey alone. In reality, there is a network of tutors, experts, and mentors only a few clicks away. Embrace online communication and ask questions as soon as you have them. But make sure you always ask questions respectfully and appropriately – it’s a real person behind the screen that deserves kindness.
Connect with classmates
One of the main roadblocks to online study is feeling overwhelmed and alone. Connecting and collaborating with classmates online can help disrupt this isolation and create a support network of peers dedicated to helping each other succeed at online study. Perhaps you could join online discussions, form study groups, stay in touch on Facebook, help each other with proofreading, and exchange resources.
Any form of study is a massive achievement, especially when it is self-directed. It can be challenging to put in the hours of effort without succumbing to distractions, so reward yourself. It’s always easier to find the motivation to succeed at online study when there is something waiting at the finish line. Celebrate your discipline and online study milestones – no matter how big or small – by treating yourself to some chocolate or a movie with friends.