It is often misunderstood that online learning is easier than traditional classroom learning. Though the content is the same, the structure that comes from having an instructor in front of students each week helps them focus and brings a sense of accountability. Since those things are less available in the online environment, it is important that you create your own method of organizing, managing time, studying, and connecting. Below you will find some tips to help you do just that!
If you’re doing more work on your own and your time is less structured, you might be more tempted to multitask. Many people think they can do multiple things at once. But research shows us that only about 2% of the population can multitask. Even if you feel like you’re multitasking, you’re probably not... really, you’re switching between tasks very quickly (some call this “micro-tasking”).
The downsides of multitasking and microtasking:
Assignments take longer. Each time you come back to an assignment (from Instagram for example), you have to get familiar with it, find your spot, remember what you were going to do next, etc.
You’re more likely to make mistakes. Distractions and switching between tasks tires out the brain.
You’ll remember less. When your brain is divided, you’re less able to commit what you’re learning to long-term memory (because it doesn’t get encoded properly into your brain).
What to do instead
When you need to study something important, consider The Magic of Monotasking.
With limited face-to-face time we spend with others on campus, connecting with family and friends in other ways is more important than ever. And staying in touch with instructors, classmates, and group mates is still important for continued classwork. Here are a few ideas:
Consider your learning style and choose the right reading environment. What noise level can you tolerate? Is there good lighting? Consider these three factors: location, atmosphere and distractions. You'll comprehend more if you're in a place that increases your focus and concentration.
Surveying the text helps you learn the material more efficiently because it sets a purpose for reading. Read the title to get a sense of the text's key points. Look over the key parts of your textbook: front and back pages, table of contents, glossary and introduction. This will help you digest the material when you finally dive in.
As you read, use a highlighter to capture key information. Pay attention to important terms, definitions, facts and phrases. Don't get carried away with the highlighting—only highlight the information that matters. If you prefer not to use a highlighter, try annotating the text. This involves writing notes in the margins and underlining key phrases.
If you come across an unfamiliar word that may be vital to understanding the text, look it up. Use a dictionary or computer while reading. You can utilize online reference sites like Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster.
When you ask questions, your reading comprehension improves because you're able to make connections with the text. Read through each section or chapter carefully. Keep a list of questions you think of while reading and look for the answers as you continue.
As you read, think about what you're reading and take notes. Think about the main point of each chapter you're reading and only jot down relevant information. There are plenty of note-taking strategies (e.g., outlines, mind mapping, bullet points). Good notes will give you a starting point when it comes to understanding the text and writing papers.
After reading, summarize what you've read in your own words. Summarizing will help you pull out main ideas and take better notes. Creating a summary also demonstrates that you understand what you've read. You can do this by leveraging one of the many note-taking applications available. If you don't understand or remember what you just read, reread it carefully.
Reviewing notes is just as important as writing them. Looking over your notes regularly helps you retain information. It also helps you avoid last-minute cramming and exam anxiety.