Transitioning to an online learning environment can be challenging in the best of circumstances. With the unexpected Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic lock down, academic institutions have had to take unprecedented initiatives in delivering their academic curriculum to their students. So here are some tips to help you transition to online learning to make sure they make the most of it and avoid the pitfalls of transitioning to online education.

  • Set a schedule 

It is important that students plan for their studying as it will provide you with some form of direction and keep you on track. It is very easy to become distracted with topics that interest you but these may not be covered in the tests or exams set by the lecturer. It is therefore important that you have a clear plan of what you need to have covered while in isolation that would have been covered in lectures. It would be wise to create a list of chapters and topics to cover during this time based on the course outline given for that module. This will allow students to keep on track with minimal diversion from the important chapters needed to be covered. In the planning process students would also need to gather all materials needed to begin their studying for that module and account for that time. Plan time for reading, studying and engaging online every day.

  • Pick a place and time

Find the best place and time to study. This must be an ideal place for you whether it be your bedroom or the dining room but at a time that you are more effective. Once you have found the best place and time for you then stick with it. It also helps to have a set routine for your daily activities - you could either use your existing lecture timetable or create your timetable that will accommodate your current living environment. The place and time chosen needs to be conducive to your learning, especially with more family members being at home, so your study space needs to have an appropriate study time. Try to avoid studying in/on your bed or where there’s a television, use a desk and chair ensuring that you are relaxed and comfortable to work. Make sure that you are studying at a time when you are most productive, refreshed and effective and you have minimal distractions. An example would be when everyone or most of the family has gone to bed, this could be late at night or early in the morning.

  • Study Every Day

To avoid feeling overwhelmed you need to be studying every day. Try not to overwhelm yourself.  An hour or two with breaks in between for each module is enough time. Do a time planner to help you structure your time. Prioritising your studies may mean less social media and other social activities. Studying every day is a habit that doesn’t happen overnight but happens with consistency and students need to develop such a habit in order to stay on top of things during this isolation period. It needs to be part of your daily routine so if you need to establish a daily time schedule or timetable to establish a new routine, then do so.

  • Put Your Phone on Flight Mode or on Mute

It may be impossible to not utilise your cell phone during this isolation period as lecture materials needed are online but try and minimise cell phone distractions as much as possible. One way to do this would be to download all the material needed so you can watch them offline and then switch off your data and go offline during your study period so you are not distracted with incoming texts and calls. If the material can’t be watched offline then maybe mute incoming messages and calls until you are done with studying. This way, you won’t be interrupted by phone calls or text messages while you are studying. You can always check your phone during your interval breaks or preferably when you are done.

  • Make Use of Ear Plugs

As anyone who lives or has lived in a fully packed household would know, focusing and staying focused is not easy. This may be even more difficult to do during this lockdown period as most family members are at home and especially without the structure of the academic program, but keeping on top of things is of paramount importance. That’s why the use of ear plugs can change your study habits for good. The use of ear plugs can help students eliminate noise level at home while studying so they can focus on their studying. Most ear plugs are disposable should you be worried about contamination during the COVID 19 pandemic and are safe to use.

  • The Use of Ear Sets or Headphones

There is contradicting research on the use of music while studying but what is agreed upon is that different methods work for different people and that we all learn differently. For some, listening to music while studying works for them and so the use of headphones or ear sets may help to minimise noise when study at home during this lockdown period. For some listening to music while studying, rather than the chattering of family members, helps keep them calm and minimises anxiety. So if music works for you then I just suggest you make use of headphones or ear sets.

  • Discover Your Learning Style

Know your learning style. We all have different ways of learning and therefore study in different ways. Some people are auditory learners whilst others are visual learners and others tactile/kinaesthetic learners. Auditory learners prefer to learn by listening. Visual learners prefer to learn by seeing. Tactile/kinesthetic learners prefer to learn by doing. So figure out which learning style(s) work best for you.

  • Review and Revise

Our brains are designed to forget information to keep us sane and so it is important to review, revise and recite. If you want to remember information more effectively you need to study the information more than 3 times before a test/exam. The more you go over what you want to remember, the more comfortable you are with the information and the easier it is to remember.

  • Dig Deeper

Online lectures will give you a great foundation for your studies but it’s up to you to engage with the material at a deeper level to enforce mastery of the topic. It’s up to you to find additional resources online to add on to your understanding of the material, but be mindful that this doesn’t detract from what you need to cover. When you feel like you want to give up, just remind yourself of what the bigger purpose is by understanding how your studies fit into the rest of your life.

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