The news of another lockdown, having to stay indoors, and a shift to learning at home wasn’t exactly the way we wanted to start 2021. But for the time being, the pandemic has other plans for us right now.
Away from the lecture theatres, seminar rooms and libraries of your university, studying can feel a lot different when it’s shrunk down onto your laptop and you can’t meet up with your course mates at your favourite coffee spot to discuss that upcoming project.
If you’ve been struggling to adapt to e-learning, then this post is for you. To keep your head in the game, we’ve come up with some top tips to help you block out distractions, create the right learning environment, and get you through these temporary arrangements with flying colours.
A proper place to study can help to make your learning more effective. Real estate for where you can work might be limited, but it’s important to maintain a distinction between where you study and where you’ll be taking your breaks.
Try to keep your space separate from your sofa or bed, so you’re not associating your free time with when you’d also be studying.
It might be difficult when you’re sharing your space with others, so communication is important here. If your study space is the kitchen table, let others know that you’ll be there for a set amount of time, so they can keep distractions down when they’re passing through.
Learning at home certainly requires more discipline than you might be used to. If your study space is messy, then your discipline will soon turn to distraction.
Create a calmer, more focused environment by cleaning away the dirty dishes or laundry surrounding your area before you sit down to watch lectures and complete coursework.
Likewise, since everyone’s under the same roof at the same time, it might be worth investing in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones to cut out the background chatter and footsteps of passing flatmates. That way, you can ensure you stay focused on your learning, free from distractions.
Procrastination is another big issue when it comes to e-learning. Depending on the course you’re studying, your lectures may or may not be conducted in real-time. However they’re delivered, your study timetable may not be as well-defined as before; now it’s up to you to manage your time and ensure deadlines are met.
Take a look at the syllabus for each of your modules so you can identify when the key dates, such as due assignments and exams, are. Mark these dates on your diary or planner so you know what you’re working towards, and you can avoid any nasty surprises along the way.
Try to write to-do lists at the start of each day too. This will help to give the day more structure, stop you from losing focus, and give you the added bonus of ticking each task off when you complete them.
And when you are watching recorded lectures, make sure you’re giving them your full attention – not half-watching them while eating or listening to music in the background.
In person or at home, it’s important that you’re still learning for the same reason: to get a degree. That’s why you should still treat this temporary arrangement as you would if you were attending lectures in person.
Make sure you’re using this time wisely. Yes, it may be tempting to binge watch Netflix or play video games from your bed while your lectures go on, but you’ll end up falling behind if you make a habit of it. Make a point to dedicate yourself to your studies right now as you would if things were completely normal.
Whether your lectures or seminars are pre-recorded or broadcast live, make sure you’re engaging with the material by writing up your notes. Online resources are undoubtedly helpful, but they’re also not simply pre-written study notes.
Create your own notes and put things in your own words in ways that help you to remember the most important points.
Another way of treating this as you would in person is by getting involved with the discussion. Turning up to online lectures and reviewing the material is a good start, but it’s only part of the process. Engage with your course as it was intended by asking questions and seeking help with certain material if you don’t understand things.
Each module is likely to have its own online discussion group or forum. Whether you’re simply reading what others have written or asking questions yourself, make sure you’re contributing to them in some form.
We know it’s difficult to socialise in person, but it’s important to reach out to others however you can during what will be a tough – and even lonely – time for a lot of students.
Getting in touch with staff and other students is a good way to create and maintain a sense of community. And along with posting on discussion boards as part of your studies, remember to keep in touch with your friends during your downtime. Skyping or FaceTiming those you’re close with lets you socialise while staying safe as we all navigate these unusual times.
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