Over the last few years, we have been in constant flux. One day you can be attending classes as just like it was 2019 and the next, after a few new cases of COVID-19, you are back at home logging into a Zoom classroom. Last year, I definitely had that experience and the uncertainty was definitely taking a mental toll that was affecting my performance when studying.
It was then when I decided I needed to come up with a system to that would allow me to take full advantage of my online classes. The main problems that I was encountering was around not being able to focus on what was being presented, having too many sources available to me, and not having a way of looking back over the material that I had just been taught.
For students studying in online school, here a three tips that you should implement in order to get the most out of your classes:
- Keep distractions to a minimum. When you are at home, in your room trying to study, there are so many things around you that can easily distract you. Even on your computer where the class is being presented is such a great distraction that you could very easily spend the length of your class not doing any work. To combat this, I had to make a dedicated study space which was used to specifically for logging into classes, where I would not have my phone or other little things around that I could play with during a lesson
- Go by “topic”. So what this means is focussing on smaller aspects of the big picture, one topic at a time. I found myself getting lost down rabbit holes of all different descriptions just because I would go from one link to the next, to the next after that and by the end of it, totally forget what I set out to do in the first place. If you have a clear idea on what your teacher is teaching, then for the scope of that class, it is best to just keep that in mind and not get pulled away in different directions.
- Build a system that works for you. The best way to learn is to always be active and to do that, you need to be “doing” as opposed to just “being”. That is where a good system of how you approach your online classes is important. Do you work best taking notes on what is being presented? Or do you jot down thoughts or questions that you have during the presentation that you will revisit later to consolidate what you have learned? It does not matter what it is, but it does matter that there is something that you do, some system you have, that you are able to apply to different classes and different topics.
But not all of us are relying on live classes. We are starting to get back into classrooms and lecture theatres for a lot of our learning but what I did learn from my lockdown experience is that there is a wealth of information online that can be really useful to learn information, even pick up new skills from.
I have started to use some of these resources myself in order to not only further my academic pursuits, but start new hobbies, learn about different topics that interest me and try out different pursuits.
Here are three tips that I have used myself for when studying online:
- Make sure there is a clear goal of what you want. I think one of the reasons why watching a string of YouTube videos can be so addicting is because the titles address a very basic desire that we have: “I want to know that”. But we can engineer this to our advantage by asking ourselves first, “what do I want to know?”, and then finding it out online. It always makes for a more interesting, and enjoyable experience that we can use to our advantage.
- Use one source at a time. So many times if I Google something, I open the top three links that they provide, skim through them to hopefully find the answer, and then close them all, unfulfilled. I have since discovered that in order to not miss out on the answer and to stop yourself from being overwhelmed, it is important to go through one source of information at a time. That way, you can be sure that you have gotten as much as you can out of one, before moving onto the next.
- Have a note-taking system. This is was very key when I was looking into building this website and blog that you are reading this on! I would constantly be re-visiting sites and looking for the same information over and over again so I built myself a series of notes and links on Notion that allowed me to keep everything I needed to know in one place. The same can be applied if you are doing your own research, or learning something new, having a place where you can put everything is so key being able to apply it again in the future.
So there are a few tips on learning from your online classes and using all the information on the internet to your advantage! If you would like to know more about the different systems I use to take notes, and revise study material, feel free to get in touch with me through the website or by sending me an email.