As the Coronavirus lockdown means students are spending less time in tutorials and lectures and more time logging on online, there’s a growing need to make the best of an unfamiliar study situation.
Luckily help is at hand, from our tutors and indeed OU students – used to learning remotely – who are willing to give words of encouragement and helpful advice.
Karen Foley is a lecturer and associate lecturer at the OU and runs online events to support its academic community on the Student Hub Live. Here she shares her best advice on coping with learning remotely at home:
- Limit chunks of time – 30 mins is a good length. Set a timer and identify a task to do in that time.
- Recognise different tasks require different levels of concentration – watching a video can be easier than reading a complex text and taking notes.
- Think about when you have most concentration and how long you can work for.
Working with distractions
- Turn off your mobile phone – it tends to be the single largest distractor.
- Make a four square grid and use post it notes to identify your tasks – The grid contains four squares, urgent, non-urgent, and “things I want to do, to things I don’t want to do”. Balance the things you want to do and things you don’t.
- Park other activities and recognise that some may need to fall below the radar for now.
- Take notes when learning to help you focus and identify what is important. Play around with the way you take notes – remember they are a way to help you process what you learn.
- Be committed to your study with a plan of action in your study area. If you are in a shared space, tell others so they can recognise what you are doing.
- It’s ok to worry right now and things are uncertain. Acknowledge your worries and write those down – you can have a dedicated worry time and then reflect on your concerns.
Get prepared; eat and drink water!
- Make sure you understand what is required of the task, in particular if it is an assignment. It’s better to seek clarification if you are unsure than guess.
- Know what you want to do and in what order.
- Chunk the time up – is it a 20/30 minute task?
- Make your objectives Smart – specific, measured, achievable realistic and timed.
- Planning time can be different to study time – use time in the shower to think about what you want to achieve so that when you reach your study space you have a goal – and write it down and only do that.
- Make sure you’ve eaten and drunk water and take care of your basic needs – then you can really think!
Keep social, but choose your contacts wisely
- Its good to be in a study group but it can be overwhelming. Think about what you want out of it and know how you are getting it – is it contact you want or advice, or to help others.
- Choose your contacts wisely and spend time with people who support what you want.
- Be kind – it can be easy to say what you think in non-face to face environments. If you don’t understand, clarify, and consider what you’re going to say.
- If you have extra time on your hands you may want to support your learning with your future aspirations – get podcasts, investigate career options, watch videos about the things that interests you. Feeling connected to something you love can be really rewarding.
OU students have also been giving some of their best tips, being experts in online learning themselves. You can read what they say here.