online learning

7 Tips on Adapting to Online Learning for University Students

The modern student can ditch the large textbooks and three-ring binders. Online learning (also called distance learning) is becoming the new normal.

Today, 97% of students switched to an online educational institution. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, many students were at least a part-time online student.

But switching to a distance learning environment can still be difficult. This is true for students who aren’t used to relying on devices to complete schoolwork.

Here are 7 tips for students to stay productive and maintain good grades.

1. Establish a Functional Workspace

Students will need to set up a workstation where they handle their schoolwork.

First, find a space that offers the most productivity with limited distractions. While it’s tempting to do schoolwork on the bed or couch, most students are more productive when they sit at a desk. This space should also have the best internet connection.

Should students study in public places? There’s nothing wrong with studying at a coffee shop or coworking space. The only time this is problematic is during lecture time. In this situation, students should always have headphones with them and find a private space.

2. Create the Best Environment for Exams

Students should also take their exams in a space that limits distractions.

Start by turning off non-essential devices. If some devices are necessary, such as a phone, disable push notifications. Turn off the TV and refrain from eating food at the desk. If any students live with anyone, inform them about the exam or attach a “do not disturb” sign on the door.

Students can play certain types of music in the background. This source recommends listening to instrumental music or music that mimics the sound of nature.

Right before the exam, have any required materials, such as a calculator, out and ready. Run a connectivity test to ensure the internet connection is strong.

3. Know the Classroom Setup

When students take classes online, they will find two different types of online learning structures: asynchronous and synchronous. Asynchronous classrooms allow students to complete assignments at their own time while synchronous classrooms require students to log onto the online platform at a certain time.

Synchronous classrooms may be graded similarly to traditional classrooms. Students will have to be present for the entire lecture and will have to virtually attend lectures throughout the semester. The professor may also require students to be engaged during these lectures, especially if the lectures are on video.

If students aren’t sure which classroom set up they’re in, they should talk to teachers either before or soon after the course starts.

4. Have Great Organizational Skills

During asynchronous setups, students are the ones responsible for submitting all necessary assignments and making deadlines. Teachers may not remind students of their assignments and due dates.

This is why great organizational skills are imperative.

Create an agenda that includes lecture times, reading the assigned readings, group work meetings and essential due dates. Don’t forget to include study time into this schedule.

Put the most challenging subjects for classes at the highest priority. Create separate computer folders for each course, outlining the assignments, when they’re due, and storing other essential documents in these folders.

Students can always email their professors with any questions or to address any difficulties. Academic tutors and advisors are also available via a remote environment.

5. Prevent Migraines and Eye Strain

Prolonged computer and device use can cause eye strain and can trigger a migraine, especially for students who are prone to both. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the negative impacts of these devices.

Place the monitor at eye level. The monitor should be 20-40 inches away.

The brightness should be at the same level as the surrounding light; if it’s any brighter or dark then the device will cause an eye strain. Reducing the color temperature will also prevent eye strain. Adjust the text size so it’s easy to read.

Students should also use the 20-20-20 rule. Look away from the computer every 20 minutes and look at an object that’s 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

6. Practice Great Communication

With distance learning, students aren’t facing their professors or peers in-person. This is why all students need excellent communication skills when switching to an online environment.

During the beginning of the course, the professor will likely provide contact information and the best times to reach out to them. Most professors will gladly answer questions about the course, the required materials, and important dates such as lecture day and times and when assignments are due.

Communicating with students is also recommended, especially in regards to group projects. Many students utilize social media groups and messaging apps to discuss details about the course, advice, and more information.

If the professor created a course-specific group or chat for students, ask the professor for this information to stay in contact with the other classmates.

7. How to Use the Equipment Beforehand

In order to access different distance learning platforms, students will need specific equipment. Students should not only ensure they have this equipment before the course begins but should know how to use it.

It’s recommended that students familiarize themselves with the online learning tools such as the learning portal, chat rooms, online library search engines and necessary file-sharing programs before the course begins.

Since most synchronous courses utilize video conferencing technology, students need access to a webcam. Fortunately, most laptops, phones, and tablets are made with a webcam. Students who use a desktop computer will likely need a separate webcam.

Before class begins, ensure the internet connection is strong and all necessary computer updates are downloaded.

Study Tips: Tradionally the way that information was distrubuted to students at a brick and moater Unversity or College was on a paper format.  For example, during lectures, students took notes, hylighted text books ect and created cue cards to aide with retention.  If you feel as though you can retain the information that you are presented easier through a paper format, take notes during the lecture, print off articles to highlight and create your own paper documents.

Online Learning Is the New Future

Because of the coronavirus, more students are switching to an online learning platform.

But many students are struggling without face-to-face interaction from their professors and peers. Creating a functional workspace, staying organized, knowing the required equipment, and more can prepare all students for distance learning.

The lack of face-to-face interaction can also be difficult for mental health. Any students who are suffering mentally should contact this private practice and get additional help and guidance to make their academic year successful.

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