How to effectively study online
In this article: A lot of study time has understandably been shifted from the classroom to online, Calibre Group’s Sabina Hegarty gives her tips for making a success of the transition
Studying online has been a growing area of interest for all ages, but has now been given increased impetus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it provides flexibility, allowing you to learn in a way that best suits you, enabling you to study when best suits you.
So, if this is a new experience for you or if you are struggling to find your rhythm, here are my seven hints and tips to help.
Make space to breathe
Create a workspace which is comfortable. Your study area should be in a quiet space if possible and free from distractions, near a window would be ideal, not only for the fresh air but also so you have a view to the outside world which aids thinking and creativity.
Staying motivated can be difficult, so it's a nice idea to decorate your workspace with pictures, photographs, motivational quotes and images of people or things that inspire you.
Get into a rhythm
Create a timetable to help you stay on track. Use reminders in your calendar so that you don't miss specific deadlines and then stick to the schedule.
Study should be organised in bite size chunks in both terms of content and time. The human brain is at its optimum functioning power around 11:00am and at its most lethargic between 15:00 and 16:00. If there is detailed content to be absorbed, then it’s best to set this work to be done before lunch. Each study session should last between 45 minutes and an hour.
Work breaks into your day
Use this time to have a comfort break, make a drink, get some fresh air, or stretch your legs just to take some time away from the screen. Some people even like to build in exercise during their study timetable; never underestimate the physiological impact that movement and exercise can have.
You don’t have to ditch paper entirely
While we would all love to be paperless all the time, sometimes printing out specific content can help you absorb and retain information. Having some printed matter allows you to make notes in the margin, highlight any specific areas of interest and also decreases your screen time. For some people taking notes really adds to their knowledge retention.
Don’t’ get bogged down in the written word
Recent studies show video content is the most easily absorbed and retained by learners, since this is what we consume most often in our day to day lives.
Video allows you to rewatch online training, which is especially useful if you're struggling to retain a specific piece of knowledge. Video content has also been shown to improve some people’s attention to detail consciously and subconsciously.
If you’re learning online, it's quite easy to get distracted with other things on your computer. With access to almost anything on your machine, the opportunity for distraction is very high but it’s your own responsibility to manage your behaviour while studying in order to stay on track.
Mix up submissions to gain the biggest benefit
If a piece of work asks specifically an essay of X number of words then that's fine, create an essay.
However, if you’re asked to detail your understanding of a particular process and/or demonstrate some skills in a specific area, then you should use a variety of mediums to complete this work.
For example, don’t write boring chapters of typed content, when you could create a visual presentation to explain the same information. Consider using video as a fantastic way to show your skills that offers movement, visual and audio activity and also allows you to create emotion and the human factor in your work.
Submitting exciting work is good for your tutors and mentors too as you’re more likely to engage them with alternative methods – when it’s appropriate of course. Digital and visual skills are definitely going to be needed in the future, so this is good time to get practicing.