11. Remote studying

Remote studying: 10 tips for students

The following tips are designed to help support you in organising your online study workloads.

#1 Don’t be too hard on yourself, stay positive and try your best

Your lecturers and course coordinators understand that this is a trying time for you all and are actively developing ways to make your learning goals more digestible. Try to stay upbeat about this new mode of learning, reach out to loved ones and friends if you need to vent and focus on the bigger picture. This period of uncertainty will pass.

➔    Remember:  it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

➔    Try to leave yourself a little wiggle room: You may experience setbacks so allow time in your schedule to accommodate any unexpected setbacks.

➔    Connect with peers: It’s hard for everyone. Try to connect with peers and do fun things. Maybe you can have virtual drinks, play a game, or just chat. Another idea is an online pub quiz between friends.

#2 Create a study space that works

It is important to have a place where you can study comfortably. If possible, try to find an area that’s: comfortable, ergonomic, (relatively) free from distraction, and has everything you need to study (electricity, internet, headphones).  A study space with natural light is optimum.

#3 Devise a study schedule and (try to) stick to it

It is easy to get lost if you have a whole day without appointments or lectures. Therefore it is important to make a clear schedule and try to stick to it. The following are some tips:

➔    Make a plan for the week: Start the week by making a plan. Try to plan what you want to do per half a day which can be broken in 2 x 2 hour blocks. Also check if you have any online lectures scheduled.

➔    Start the day with a plan (take 15 minutes): Start each day with making a plan for the day. Take your week schedule and break the goals of the day into smaller chunks (for example 30 minutes). You could try the Pomodoro technique which some students have found useful.

➔    Close the day (take 5 minutes): Close the day by reflecting on what you’ve done. See what you didn’t finish and make a list for the next day. Don’t forget to congratulate yourself!

#4 Stay connected and visible

It’s important to know what is going on and what is going to happen in the courses you follow.

➔    Download the PULSE app: You will get notifications from your courses (announcements, and other important stuff) on your smartphone or tablet.

➔    Check Brightspace: Updates on your courses will be published on Brightspace. You can also see the notification in Brightspace (the bell icon) or receive notification emails.

➔    Check up with your peers: Maybe you can study together, help each other, and participate together in online study activities. Also, check up on fellow classmates who may be struggling and try to offer help and morale support, where possible.  

#5 Ask for help

It can also be more difficult to ask for help at the moment. But it is still important to ask questions if you get stuck. This is what you can do:

➔    Use the Brightspace forum: Most Brightspace courses have a discussion forum. Ask your questions there. Tip: you can also get discussion board notifications.

➔    Ask your peers: Ask your peers if they can help you.

➔    Ask your lecturer: Ask your lecturer for extra help. Sometimes there are online question hours or working groups. You can also send them an email.

➔    Student IT desk for technical issues: you should make use of the Student IT Desk for any technical issues you may experience in studying online.

➔    Study counsellor: Although the academic counsellors are not accepting walk-in appointments, they are still available online. Please check your faculty homepage for further details on your academic counsellors’ availability.

#6 Take breaks & exercise

It’s very important to take breaks and revitalize yourself. This will improve your concentration. The following are some tips:

➔    Take a break at least every two hours: This is essential to aid concentration and to safeguard against burnout.

➔    Get some fresh air: Go for a walk or sit near a window.

➔    Exercise: Go for a run (as long as it is allowed), do some online yoga, or do a 15 minute workout.

#7 Remove distractors

Distraction is a killer for learning. Try to remove any distractors. The following are some tips:

➔    Put your phone on airplane mode and close Netflix and social media: This will stop the notifications and will keep you focused. Check your messages and notifications in your breaks.

➔    Try some distraction free background music: Sometimes it can be difficult to focus in a noisy environment. Try some non distracting background music (e.g. https://mynoise.net/, a YouTube focus track, or a movie soundtrack)

#8 Don’t watch video lectures, study them

Just watching a recorded lecture does not translate into automatic learning. You have to actively engage with the new information. This is what you can do:

➔    Take notes: Take notes during the lecture and use them as study material.

➔    Pause the video: Pause the video and check if you understand the material.

➔    Do the activities: If your lecturer asks.

#9 Actively participate in online activities

Learning takes effort. It’s your own responsibility to actively participate in the online activities. The following are some things you can do to be proactive:

➔    Ask questions: Ask questions during online activities such as an online lecture, a workgroup or a discussion forum.

➔    Participate in activities: Participate in the activities the lecturers have prepared. If applicable do the poll, participate in an online discussion and do the assignments and tasks.

➔    Social presence: Social presence refers to your online persona. Studies have shown that students with increased social presence perform better so stay switched on and connected as best you can.

#10 Don’t postpone!

It can be tempting to postpone learning. However, you will be assessed eventually. So make sure that you keep up with the learning tasks. The following are some tips:

➔    Look at the course schedule: Most courses have an overview of what you need to do and when it is planned. Try to use this schedule and try to stick with it.

➔    Follow the online lectures: Although there will be no education on campus, there will probably be some online lectures. Try to attend these and keep up with the study tasks.