Tips and Tricks for Effective Online Learning
Tips and Tricks for Effective Online Learning

Posted on 18 May 2020

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With circuit breaker going on and the government’s recommendations to upskill and upgrade in full force, now is a good time to do some online learning. There is the SkillsFuture top-up later this year, NTUC LearningHub subsidies, and loads more incentives as well, so now is a great time to take up an online programme or register for a course.

But having signed up for that diploma you’ve been wondering about, you might find yourself at a loss. For many of us, it’s been a long time since we last learnt in a classroom setting, and for some of us, this will be the first time we learn via an online platform.

So, we’ve rounded up 5 tips to help smoothen your online learning experience so that you don’t find yourself caught unawares during your assessment. Read on:

1. Logistics

You’ve probably sat through more than one class where someone’s equipment didn’t work, or you needed an important email address and found you forgot to ask for it. Nail your logistics before any class begins – is your technology working, do you have relevant contact details, can you access the sites or drives you need to use.

Also, we recommend minimising your reliance on the internet, as things can always go wrong with a connection. Download course materials ahead of time if possible, and have a backup plan in case your phone cannot display certain materials. And most importantly, keep hard copies of your assignments and tests if possible. Many students have failed because the page refused to load at that critical “Submit” button!

2. Self-care

In these times, self-care has taken on an extra level of importance, as the spread of coronavirus brings heightened levels of anxiety, fear and stress.

Don’t ignore the basics: keep yourself hydrated and well-fed, get enough sleep, do some home-based workouts.

But most importantly, schedule breaks! As there’s no separation between the classroom and the dining room, you can all too easily get caught up in course after course. Make sure you disengage from your classes and stand up, walk around, maybe chat with someone or pet the cat. Your mind needs rest to better digest what you’ve learnt.

3. Learning Strategies

One of the beautiful things about home-based learning is its flexibility, so embrace that and don’t be afraid to ask for specific learning aids. Do you need the slide deck, or a recording of the class? Maybe an extra second to screenshot the whiteboard? Let your educator know so that they can work in your requirements.

Most online learning is in video format. If it’s pre-recorded, you might want to pause and write a brief summary after every new point. During an interactive virtual class, make sure to get engaged, ask questions and offer opinions. These learning strategies will help the lessons stick in your mind.

4. Community and Social Learning

Get engaged with your learning community! Another advantage of online learning is that you can network with many more people in a single class. If you’re doing an external course or picking up a skill, you’ll meet lots of others learning the same thing with you.

Maintain and grow these connections with groups: Facebook groups, Whatsapp groups, virtual study groups on Discord or Skype… you name it. When you settle down to an assignment together, something like “peer pressure” occurs in a good way, as no one wants to be the first to leave. Use this to your advantage to keep studying!

5. Time Management

It’s true that flexibility is a huge benefit of online learning, but too much freedom can also pose difficulties. It’s easy to let your mind drift away from your books at home, especially since most of us are wired to think of “school” as “a place for learning” and “home” as “a place for rest”.

Take a leaf from your school and set aside “periods” for study, same as when you were going to class. While you don’t need to force yourself to do assignments for half the day before “recess”, you can work with smaller time-blocks of fifteen to thirty minutes to finish easy tasks and set aside longer periods for in-depth research and memorisation.

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