How to THRIVE in Online School
A brief guide to optimizing and enhancing your learning online.
Welcome back to this week's edition of the Project Uni Blog! As most of you reading this may know, the majority of students have/are opting into online learning; and because of this, many people are having trouble adjusting to the new style of learning that comes with it. Our goal is to help you hone your skills in and provide you with the tools and concepts you need to further your success and ease into possibly your second quadmester.
1. Selecting the Right Study Space
Selecting the right study space for you is paramount in aiding your success. The area you choose to do your studying should be exempt from most other activities; relaxation, leisure, and free time should be separated from the space that you use to focus. Specifically, make sure you don't take meals at you desk; you want to be sure that you don't send yourself mixed messages. Additionally, make sure that the space you choose is comfortable and private - no library! Your nook should be a place where you can easily get into the zone and enter a groove, your peace of mind is invaluable and maintaining it will allow you to focus on more important things.
2. Organizing Your Day
Stress is like a ten tonne weight pressing down on you from every possible angle and stress seems to be piling on exponentially these days. In order to minimize this stress and to keep yourself motivated and on track, set up a schedule for yourself. Laying out your daily tasks ahead of time and displaying them in an easily accessible fashion gives you more time to do the tasks instead of figuring out what exactly it is that you need to do. Programs like "Google Calendar", "Google Sheets", the reminder app on your phone and even sticky notes are simple and great ways to keep up to date and to keep your day transparent. Furthermore, here are some ideas that you can explore and flesh out:
Break down tasks into smaller parts
By doing so, you create a positive feedback loop where you consistently feel like you're getting more done - also allows you to prioritize larger or smaller tasks depending on how productive you feel
Rather than simply giving yourself a task to do with no general timeline, setting up blocks of time which you can fill with a task of your choosing. Alternatively, you can choose a task to complete and give yourself a time-frame, or block in which you complete the task.
Search up the Pomodoro Technique, it's a really effective way to study!
3. Reconnecting While Disconnected
Online Learning is the new frontier for education; it's an unexplored, untested, and growing problem with complex and abstract problems. Thus, it's understandable to be confused and to not know what's happening (in class or not). Whenever you're feeling disorientated, jot it down! Writing all of the questions you have and the problems you're facing in a journal will only benefit you; eventually, you can either write to your teacher about it, ask them to stay after class to discuss them, ask peers, or even ask in the middle of a lesson. Lesson's feel awkward and disjointed, but the sooner you are able to enter the mindset that you're in school, the sooner it will feel normal to ask questions aloud and chat through your screen. As well, a microphone will always outweigh typing in effectiveness, so ensure that you have some sort of audio input device to speak with!
4. PUT AWAY Distractions
It's inevitable, a fact of life, a certainty in this uncertain world; you will be distracted from your work. The sooner you can accept it, the sooner you can take the necessary steps to stop yourself from succumbing to it. Lock your phone and if that's not possible or if you want to be extra-careful, disable notifications for your social media. Don't be afraid to enlist your parents' help either; at this stage in the COVID-19 pandemic, they're probably raring to go for an opportunity to pry you from your device. Beyond this, maintain the mindset that you're at school. While there probably won't be repercussions from your teachers because you're in your home, you'll suffer down the line if you slack off during class time (e.g. during assessments). Now, if you still don't think this is enough, think about looking up the following software which may be of assistance to you:
SelfControl - Distracting application blocker, macOS only
I would 100% recommend this , it's something I use all the time during studying!
Pocket - Bookmarking
Trello - In depth, easy to use organization board
Bitrix24 - Scheduling, collaboration, organization
5. Taking a Break
Finally, the simultaneously most overlooked and important concept when it comes to studying as a whole; going on break. Studying can be a very tedious, strenuous, and mentally taxing activity. It's pertinent that you don't burn out or lose your will to study too soon; staying in the zone is the key to efficient studying. Therefore, whenever you find yourself zoning out, getting distracted easily or even when you're no longer in the mood to study, take the opportunity for a break! Relax, refresh, and rejuvenate your mind so you can return yourself into a state of focus and determination. Always remember that your mental health matters, don't hesitate if you feel like you cannot continue; tell your teacher so if you're in class or talk to trusted friends and family on a break.
Designate an area exclusively for studying
Having your own area solely to study will allow you to focus completely on studying and concentrate wholly on learning.
Let’s be honest; studying isn’t fun. It’s a tedious, strenuous, and mentally taxing activity. It’s pertinent that you don’t see it as an activity that takes up your whole day. Exhaustion is real, and it’s a real drag. It’s important that you take breaks whenever you feel truly burnt out; this allows you to refresh, and reinvigorate yourself to get back into it, lest you zone out when reviewing a vital concept.
Organize your day
Studying is a hassle and can be a stressful experience, so it’s important to trim the fat out of your study days as much as possible. Organizing when/what you’re doing, and prioritizing your tasks is key to have your day flow better. We recommend Google Calendars or the reminder app on your phone
Utilize the Pyramid of Learning Retention
Essentially, studies have shown that not all methods of learning are born equal. It’s said that the most efficient way of learning is not through reading, or hearing, but through actually doing and writing the lesson. So, rather than just looking back through your tests and yearly notes, think about writing it down in new notes, and doing practice questions on the topic.
Don’t just read your notes on a topic once! If you have enough time before the exam, dedicate as many days as possible to an individual unit, and compile notes for an overall study session. Taking time to repeat, and read over concepts will allow the information to stick with you for a longer time, and better prepare you for your examination.
While it may seem weird, teaching others what you learn can be beneficial for both parties. By teaching others, you improve your communication skills, subconsciously plan out what you’d say on the examination, and build up your confidence (both socially, and in the topic).
Good luck in your next quadmester! You got this & we believe in you :)
- The Project Uni Team.