September 7, 2020
Due to Covid-19, online studying has become an integral & primary mode of course delivery for most educational institutions around the world. Blended or Hybrid learning – a combination of traditional lectures augmented with online courses – has for now become the new normal. Many schools are allowing students to commence their studies online before transitioning to the traditional in-person mode once the pandemic subsides. Governments, on their part, are also responding by enacting laws that provide flexibility to students & give them the full benefits of post-study migration opportunities.
- Perhaps the biggest advantage of online learning is its flexibility. Traditional in-person classes require students to attend lectures at a predetermined time. Online classes allow them to listen to lectures when & where they want. More freedom with their schedule may also allow them to work part-time to help pay for tuition.
- Online studying also allows students to save money on accommodation & other day-to-day living expenses that they would otherwise have to incur in their study-abroad destination.
- Online studying can be particularly helpful for international students for whom English is their second language, and who sometimes find it daunting to participate in classroom lectures.
- A traditional in-person learning approach means that students can only be taught by instructors who can be in the same physical space as them. Online courses help to remove this geographic barrier. Instead, schools can attract top teaching talent, regardless of the instructor’s location, ensuring that students are taught by the brightest minds. Further, international students have the peace of mind knowing that even if borders don’t reopen soon, they can begin their studies online.
- A significant advantage of the online approach is its invaluable preparation for a future career & working remotely. It sets you up for success in a remote working environment. Much of today’s workforce has shifted online & there is no telling the reverberations that Covid-19 will continue to have on our lives. One thing is certain – the landscape of work has changed forever & may continue, to a large extent, exist online.
It’s an excellent opportunity to try it on for size & see how it works for you.
Online studying has also brought with it new challenges for both schools & students. While schools have had to quickly adapt to their new mode of course delivery, students have also found online studying to be challenging in many ways. Being used to traditional methods of classroom lecturing in a campus environment, meeting new friends, building support groups & other forms of social interaction, students have now had to self-discipline themselves to stay on track with their studies & meet deadlines. This is easier said than done for many students. Many have fallen behind & have found it tough to get back on track.
Below are some tips for you to stay engaged & make the most of your online classes :
- Stick to a schedule :
While some online lectures will be live, many will be pre-recorded & available on-demand. On-demand offers you the opportunity to watch lectures at a time that best suits you. However, this requires discipline to keep on top of your coursework & not fall behind. To ensure that you’re not scrambling to play catch-up just before a mid-term or final exam, try blocking off the same time in your calendar every week for each of your pre-recorded lectures. That way you “show up” ready to learn at a pre-determined time just as you would in a live online lecture or one held in a classroom. It doesn’t matter if you choose 10 pm on Wednesday evening or 9 am on Saturday morning – as long as you’re consistent, you are already halfway there.
- Dedicate a space for study :
The library or your favourite coffee shop are no longer accessible. Students are now living, eating, studying & working in a single environment. With student’s dorms & apartments being normally small, most students don’t have the luxury to dedicate an entire room for studying purposes. However, even a small nook in your bedroom or devoting your desk just for schoolwork helps you get in the zone & check off those items on your to-do list. When you plunk down your stack of books & open your laptop, you’ll know it’s time to work. Make sure your work-space is well lit & you have all the things you will need to get the job done such as your favourite pencils, pens and notebook, as well as a reminder of home.
- Avoid distractions :
This is a tough one to follow. We live in a world where a million things seemingly vie for our attention at any given moment, easily distracting us from our studies. If scrolling through Instagram is your weakness, there are apps like OFFTIME that will temporarily lock you out of your social media accounts and even your phone. This will allow you to focus your time & attention on the task at hand. Before you know it, you’ll be free to indulge in those fun distractions once again.
- Stay Connected :
Although in-person access to your professors may be limited or even non-existent for the time-being, they remain an invaluable resource for you to lean on. Indeed, now more than ever, it’s important to stay connected. In addition to more traditional email communication, professors may also offer virtual office hours. Don’t forget, they are also navigating this challenging time, so they will be sympathetic to what you’re going through as well. Another way to stay connected is through the online message board, a feature common to most online classes. It offers an opportunity to discuss course material, give & receive feedback on assignments, and to get to know your fellow classmates. In these times of social distancing, getting to know your classmates via the message board is an excellent way to stay connected, offer mutual support & even exchange tips. Some might also be studying from abroad, which could be the foundation of a new friendship.
- Give yourself a break :
Thriving during a pandemic doesn’t come with a playbook. Slip-ups & down days are inevitable. If you miss a live online lecture or fall behind on an assignment, be kind to yourself, learn from your mistake, and then keep pushing forward. Take it one day at a time. When this is over, you’re going to have a great story to tell about how you studied abroad during a global pandemic.
Above all, stay focused and remember this is a temporary phase & it shall pass.