As the new normal sets in with the COVID19 pandemic, we turn to technology to work, learn, and communicate. We talk a lot about working from home, but what about learning from home.
The student learning environment has changed completely, from face-to-face interaction in lecture halls, whiteboard lesson explanations, and verbal communication, to online presentations and learning delivered in online live classes with lots of email communication. It may be a difficult change for many, and students may be finding it challenging to cope, stay focused, and succeed.
There are many distractions when it comes to working and learning from home. It’s easier to watch Netflix, scroll through social media, or get caught up in the unending line up of news stories that speak of uncertainty and anxiety. You may also rather spend your time gaming, facetiming with friends and hanging out virtually. So, turn off the TV, silence the game console, and put away the phone (after you finish reading this post.)
Here are some tips for my students and any other students who are currently stuck in the realm of full online learning. I speak from my own experience as a former online learner.
Tip 1 – Discipline
You must remain focused and disciplined in your approach to your learning. Since you are not attending in person classes your daily schedule will include plenty of flexibility. And flexibility is great, however when it comes to your learning create a learning schedule and stick to it. Carve out time during the day to practice homework and go over the presentation, or other learning tools your teacher has uploaded for you.
Tip 2 – The Learning Appointment
Book yourself a learning appointment on your phone calendar. Your iPhone calendar or Google calendar can be set up with reminders. Block off a time in the day to do your homework and continue with the learning process, this will aid in your sense of self-discipline and teaches time management skills. A soft skill that is as valuable in life as in business. Studies have shown, if you block off the time on your calendar you will commit.
The book, Motivating and Retaining Online Students: Research-Based Strategies that Work by Rosemary Lehman and Simone Conceicao provides evidence that students who blocked off time for online learning remained motivated. This strategy helped students stay on track and meet deadlines.
One or two hour blocks work best as they are not overwhelming. Then take a break and return to your work if needed. As a refresher, remember to also schedule days for relaxation and do no online work.
Tip 3 – The Learning Environment
Set up a space that is dedicated to your learning. A quiet, calm area with your computer and books where you can attend live lessons and do your work without distractions is best. So, the kitchen is not the ideal space, because no doubt, your little brother or roommate will be breaking your concentration as they stand in wonderment in front of the open fridge.
Though some will say it’s important to dress properly and sit in a chair to do your work it doesn’t matter much, provided you are doing the work. Comfort and self-care are key during difficult times to reduce stress and help you navigate new and challenging experiences. If you are most comfortable in your pyjamas with your hair in a top knot, enjoy.
Tip 4 – Don’t Miss Online Classes
If your teacher has set up a live online class schedule, attend every class. Even though you feel you can get the work done on your own, the live learning environment will help you stick to a schedule and will help you understand key concepts. It provides some routine in a week where you may wonder what the day is. You’re already doing that, amirite? It also gives you an opportunity to hear other students’ questions and concerns.
Tip 5 – Ask for Help
It may be more difficult to raise your hand to ask a question, however most online platforms will have a chat box where you can ask your teacher questions. And you may have the opportunity to do so by speaking up in class as well. The important thing to remember is your teacher is interested in your success and is open to your questions and your need for help.
Even after your online class is over, reach out and ask for clarification if you are stuck with homework or practice questions. Don’t try to go it alone. Ask whenever you need to. Your teacher will appreciate your interest and you will learn.
There are three important learning approaches. Which one do you usually use? They are defined as follows:
- A Deep Approach to learning means understanding the concepts for yourself and applying this new knowledge to areas where you can explain the concept. Going beyond the concept or the unit requirements in your thinking requires a deep approach.
- A Surface Approach means you are reproducing the information learned and can then regurgitate the information via examples and explanations. Your learning is limited to completing the unit requirements.
- A Strategic Approach means you aim to complete the coursework and pass the exam. You memorize the facts and do the practice work. Great for success in school, but not for long term learning.
Suddenly becoming an independent self-directed learner may seem overwhelming and challenging. To succeed you must use a deep approach to learning. Stay motivated, disciplined and stay connected with your teacher and your classmates. We all have the same goal, that is your success! Use these tips and other strategies to help you with this new world of full online learning. Here’s to your success!
If you can think of any other tips or have a question feel free to add your two cents in the comment section below. It might be worth more, depending on the exchange.