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Online study tips

Planning and time management

  • Structure your time. Try to act as if it’s a normal study day. Go to bed on time, get up on time, get dressed as usual and plan your day. 
  • Manage your time. Spend time thinking about your weekly schedule. Make sure you can achieve your learning goals and balance your time with other activities.
  • Set goals. Look at your study guide and set clear, achievable goals for the day. Make sure that you break your objectives into digestible, small steps. Be realistic and remember to allocate a suitable amount of time to planning your schedule.
  • Plan and take regular breaks. Spending a whole day interacting with people via your computer can be more intense than going from class to class. Don’t overdo it! Make sure to take regular breaks. Get some fresh air, take a walk, do some exercise and drink lots of water. Taking regular breaks also helps you process what you have learned and concentrate better. Use a tomato-timer (a web app based on the Pomodoro Technique) to help you focus on your studying while ensuring you take appropriate breaks. 
  • Stick to your plan. By making and sticking to a plan, you will work more productively and be able to relax better. If you find it difficult to stick to your plan, ask housemates or other people to help you. 

Your workspace

  • Create a quiet place to study at home. Only study in this designated place, not in bed or on the sofa. Make sure there are as few distractions as possible. Put your telephone elsewhere and ask housemates not to disturb you. 
  • Or reserve a study space at the university. If you don’t have a suitable place to study at home, you can reserve a study space in a university building. Spaces are limited and you can reserve one day in advance.
  • 'Arrive' early for online classes. Before your class commences, make sure you are able to attend. Check the instructions from your institution. Make sure you have the necessary technology and internet connection for the remote learning environment. Read about the IT facilities offered by the university and remember to always follow the advice on security and online study.
  • Be flexible. Switching to remote learning might be a new experience for both you and your lecturer. Remain flexible and understanding towards the teacher and other students.
  • Actively participate. Participating in remote lectures can be more challenging. Make sure to pay extra attention and involve yourself as much as possible. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. It’s likely your fellow students require similar guidance.
  • Take notes. Just like in traditional classes, taking comprehensive notes means better knowledge retention. The online format provides other note-taking options by allowing you to access recordings of lectures or take screenshots. Re-assess how you take notes and whether online classes provide new opportunities to record what you have learned.
  • Collaborate. Many online learning platforms have profile features that allow you to introduce yourself to your classmates. Use this opportunity to get to know who you are studying with. Engage in discussions via chat and forum functions. E-learning platforms have numerous ways to collaborate - take advantage of them to discuss class topics and feel part of a community.
  • Keep calm and carry on. We all have different attention spans. New “classroom” environments and ways of learning might affect your focus. If your mind wanders, think about what you can do to help you stay focused. Consider eating healthy snacks or changing your study environment.
  • Consolidate and reflect. Once the class is over, make sure you have taken everything in. Try summarising what you have learned. If there are any gaps, do further research or contact your lecturer or peers. Plan time to reflect on how your studying went on a weekly basis. What worked well for you? What would you like to do differently next week? Reflecting upon your successes and challenges will improve your ability to learn.
  • Study-related problems: talk to your study adviser if studying from home isn’t going well and you fear you might be falling behind.
  • First-year students: ask your mentor or tutor for study-related advice and tips.
  • Students with a disability: If you are experiencing problems with studying from home or following online courses, contact Fenestra Disability Centre
  • Study skills course: the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences offers an online study skills course that covers general study skills. Students from all faculties are welcome to follow the course for free.

How to succeed in your online classes

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