To help you adapt to the new learning environment, the University is presenting a series of Online Study Tips workshops. Sessions are open to all students, both new and returning, undergraduate and postgraduate, and are running twice weekly for the next 3 weeks. We’ve gathered some tips from these sessions to get you started.
Take some time to evaluate your study space and make sure distractions are out of sight. Minimise clutter and keep only things you need to study at hand, like your laptop or PC, textbooks, notebooks and stationery. Depending on how silent you need your space to be, you can use noise cancelling headphones, or play some music that helps you concentrate. If you have them, playing music through speakers is better than headphones, as it is less intrusive, and becomes part of the ambient background while you are focusing on study.
While each Unit Co-ordinator organises their content on Canvas differently, getting familiar with commonly used features and functions will give you a good head start. If you’re new to study, or if you feel like you need a refresher on how Canvas works, it’s worth jumping in, and navigating through some of your courses to bring yourself up to speed. Apart from knowing where learning resources such as lecture notes, recordings, readings and articles are stored, it’s also a good idea to adjust your notification settings, to filter in and out what you want to be alerted to (for instance, assessment due dates), and how you wish to be alerted (e.g. via SMS or email), so you only get in the information you need.
With more and more teaching and learning being done online, it is important to develop good online communication techniques. This will help you participate in class more effectively, and build strong working relationships with classmates, tutors and lecturers. Getting to grips with Zoom functions and protocols is a good starting point for successful participation in online classrooms. Be mindful of when to have your webcam switched on (lecturers may make specific requests around this, depending on the context), when to mute, using the ‘raised hand’ function to indicate that you wish to speak, and how to use the chat function to ask questions or make comments. You can also use the Chat function to meet new friends in class, which is always a great way to stay in the loop about upcoming assessments, important announcements you may have missed, and other course-related issues.
Poor stress management can lead to reduced concentration and learning capability, as well as having serious mental health consequences. It is crucial to give yourself time out, engage with the things away from study that give you pleasure and exercise both your mind and body. Try and start your morning with some physical exercise in the outdoors. Aim for at least 10 mins of physical activity and gradually work your way up. If you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, try some healthy distractions, such as 10 minutes’ meditation per day, or free yoga lessons online.
It is also useful to develop sensible time-management skills and the ability to overcome procrastination. Don’t study the same subject all day – mix it up and give yourself a break. Try and tackle the easier stuff first to give yourself a sense of achievement and then do the lengthier tasks. You may also benefit from tools such as the Pomodoro technique, or study aids such as the Flora app, to help you break down and monitor your time.
The sheer volume of files, messages, emails and deadlines related to university study can be overwhelming, so it’s worth developing a few simple information management techniques. Try and allocate a specific time each day, even if it is only 10 minutes, to attend to your email inbox, prioritise messages that need immediate attention, and file those that can be attended to later. It is also critical to keep track of your documents, and not leave them sitting on your computer desktop or in your downloads folder. Make sure documents are given logical, easily searchable names, so that they can be easily accessed using the search function.
Want to learn more? Book into this online session, held on Thurs 10/9/2020, 12-1pm.
These are just a few techniques for adapting to online study. Like most skills, effective study habits, stress management and personal organisation are all developed over time. The more you practice these skills –and figure out what works best for you- the more effective you’ll be in mastering them.
If you’d like to find out more, or even have a few tips of your own you’d like to share, be sure to attend an Online Study Tips workshop, presented by the University Library, Student Life portfolio and Student Support Services. Each session is hosted by an experienced team of your peers who have a wealth of practical knowledge about healthy study routines and navigating the University.