11 Smart Study Strategies for Online Classes
When you're not sitting in a physical classroom, it’s all the more important to adopt smart study strategies that will help you keep up with your goals.
With the need for social distancing and cities in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, many schools and colleges are moving their classes online. This is still better than cancelled classes because you have a chance of completing your courses on time. The problem is that learning at home presents its own set of problems, which might be challenging to overcome without a little help.
The online studying landscape may be challenging to navigate, especially if you’re new to it. You may find it difficult to maintain focus and you may easily get distracted by activities inside the house or even by social media. Since you’re no longer sitting in a physical classroom, it’s all the more important to adopt smart study strategies that will help you keep up with your lessons.
Check out these essential study strategies to maintain good study habits and strengthen your efforts for learning at home:
1: Ensure Reliable Internet Access
Since everything is going to take place online, make sure your internet connectivity is reliable enough to support your needs. You don’t want to lose connection in the middle of an online lecture. Plus, you might have to use online education resources, so you want to make sure those are always accessible. A reliable internet connection ensures that you can always stay on track with your online class and check in when needed.
2: Dedicate a Space for Studying
When you’re learning at home, one of the biggest challenges is focusing. This gets particularly tricky when you don’t have a dedicated space to study. At home, there can be a lot of distraction from your surroundings, especially if you don’t live on your own. Plus, combining your sleeping and studying spaces can take a toll on your sleeping habits.
So it’s crucial that you have a dedicated space to study. This could be anywhere from your living room to your own bedroom, but make sure it’s quiet and organized. In addition, you should be able to get proper connectivity so there’s no interruption in your online class.
3: Consider Tutoring
If you’re at a total loss, you might want to consider working with an online tutor to brush up on your study skills. Besides providing you with homework help and study tips, a private tutor will help you work through the main challenges that you’re facing with your online college courses and develop practical study strategies just for you.
This personalized attention can go a long way in developing good study habits and help you get better acquainted with learning at home. So the cost of tutoring is worth the investment, as you can seamlessly make the transition from a physical classroom to an online class without wasting too much time.
4: Enhance Your Time Management Skills
Another major challenge about learning at home is that it’s easy to lose track of time because you’ve been procrastinating. Since you have more flexibility with online college courses and online classes, you might put off studying or doing an assignment until the last minute. To avoid this, it’s crucial that you learn how to study at home by maintaining a strict schedule for studying. In other words, you need to focus on enhancing your time management skills.
Use a calendar system to set aside study blocks, mark important exam dates and deadlines for assignments, and more. Besides scheduled lessons, you should also set aside some time every day to study or work on your assignment. This will help you stay on track with your courses without needing to cram right before your exams. The exact timing depends on your personal preferences and studying habits, so see what works for you before you draft your calendar.
5: Minimize Distractions
Having a dedicated study space is the first step to minimizing distraction, but it’s not the only one. Things like street noises, phone notifications, social media, and conversations in the next room can prove to be extremely distracting. So make sure you turn off your phone or put it on silent mode while you’re studying.
In addition, you can wash out the distracting noises using ambient sounds. If you often find yourself scrolling through Twitter when you’re supposed to study, you should also consider installing an extension that blocks distracting websites while you study.
6: Give Yourself a Break
Your brain tends to slow down after spending several hours staring at the screen and on the same topic. Whatever time you put in to keep studying in spite of this will not yield much result. So the best way to study is by taking short breaks of 5-10 minutes every now and then to refresh and reenergize your brain.
During these breaks, step away from your desk and stretch your legs, grab a snack, or enjoy the view from your window. This also helps you avoid eye strain while stretching your muscles to prevent aches and pains. Ideally, you should set a timer to schedule these breaks so you don’t forget to take them. You could focus on studying for 30-60 minutes and then have your scheduled break.
7: Engage with Classmates
One of the hardest parts about moving to virtual classes is the social isolation. As much as you need the privacy to focus on your learning, you also need some sort of social interaction to stimulate your brain. So try engaging with your classmates as best as possible through online forums and group discussions. You could even join a virtual study group that will motivate you to maintain focus even while learning at home.
Ask your classmates for effective study hacks and share your own study tips, discuss your courses and individual challenges, share valuable resources, and get homework help if possible. Real life experiences and study strategies from your peers will give you examples on how to be productive and stay organized. In other words, peer interaction is essential if you’re going to teach yourself how to transition to virtual classes.
8: Organize Your Files and Resources
When you have to deal with tons of files and online educational resources, it’s easy to misplace them or get overwhelmed. You might think you can mentally note down everything you need, but you might have a hard time tracking down the info when you need it the most. So you end up losing a lot of time that you could’ve spent on studying.
To avoid this, make sure you neatly organize your files and resources in a way that makes sense to you. Back up your files using Google Drive even after you’ve submitted them, and keep a document with a list of all the online resources you need for the course. Better yet, sort your resources into groups based on which course or lesson you need it for and which chapters they’re related to. For your notes, use a note-taking app that to store and organize your notes. Some apps will even come with a sorting feature that lets you find the note you need for a specific assignment with ease.
9: Communicate with Your Professor/Teacher
Since you won’t meet face-to-face with your teacher or professor, it’s even more crucial that you open a line of communication with them. This goes beyond saying “hi” when your Zoom class starts. Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you have any confusion about the assignment or material. This will make it easier for you to keep up with your course and ensure that you don’t fall behind.
The teacher or professor should make their preferred mode of communication clear with the whole class. If not, make sure you connect with them through email or bring up the topic at the end of your online class. Beyond keeping up with your lessons, maintaining a working relationship with your professor will also help you expand your professional network.
10: Don’t Ignore Your Health
If there’s ever a time to work on your health, this is it. With the whole world in panic mode over the coronavirus outbreak, the importance of a healthy mind and body has become even more apparent. Social distancing and lockdowns can mess with your mental health as you have minimal face-to-face interaction with others and almost zero outdoor activities.
Plus, you could be eating more and moving less since there isn’t much else to do. This makes it all the more important to focus on at-home workouts that focus on stretching your body and stimulating your mind. As a result, you’ll be in a better position to learn and process the information from your lessons. You can also avoid backaches and neck pain, which are common health problems if you work or study from home.
11: Motivate Yourself
One of the top study strategies is to keep motivating yourself with little rewards whenever you have the chance. You could treat yourself to a movie or an episode of your favorite show, or you could even reward yourself with your favorite snack. This type of positive reinforcement helps you avoid burnout and stimulates your brain to continue learning.
The Bottom Line
You may think that you’re in for one of the biggest challenges of your life because classes have moved online and the whole world seems to be in panic mode. It’s easy to think that you’ll no longer have the motivation to keep studying and that you’re more susceptible to distractions. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. Use these smart study strategies to learn how to stay organized and maintain your focus, so you don’t fall behind.