Getting started with online learning
6 tips for managing time, and managing yourself
Tip 1: Make time for online study - Go to class
We know that you're juggling study with work, family, and social commitments.
Students often find that after a day of studying on campus or juggling paid work and a social life, time gets a bit squeezed and there aren’t enough hours in the day. The one thing that often gets left until last is the online study. It is easy to put it off and tell yourself you’ll do it later.
Our advice: Don’t leave it ‘til last or it will be squeezed out of your timetable. Schedule it, and treat your online learning as you would any of your classes. Use your calendar (electronic or hard copy), or a diary or wall-planner to plan your week and schedule the time you need for your online class work.
Make an appointment with your online class work. Imagine your Moodle paper is a classroom and your online discussion forum is a tutorial. Plan to go to class and take part actively, just as you would on campus. How much time should you spend each week? See the indicative workloads for classes at 100 level (in your paper outline).
Tip 2: Little and often
Ways to avoid an overwhelming backlog, and consequently, do better...!
When scheduling time for your online class, break study sessions down into components like: reading and notetaking, online discussion, and assignments. Spend a little time each day on each component. It is preferable to read an article or chapter every day than to let the reading build up until it is overwhelming.
Similarly, it is wise to start an online discussion promptly by making an initial comment early in the discussion period, and then returning regularly for a short time to read posts and make follow-up contributions. A daily visit to discussion, with a post on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, is far better than playing catchup!
Check with your lecturer about how many posts are required in your paper.
The early start advice also works for assignments. When you get your paper outline, look at assignments and plan time straight away.
Advice from a student: Prioritise your time. Just because your online papers aren’t physically included in your timetable, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t block out time for them. Initially I struggled with this, and left a lot of my discussions quite late. Once I had prioritised my time, and allocated time a few mornings a week to contribute to my paper, I did way better.
Tip 3: Plan ahead - Plan to finish early
- Making an early start and working regularly means you will keep up and will be less overwhelmed immediately before a deadline. Build in a buffer of time so that in cases of illness or technical failure, you have time to recover and keep back on track.
Tip 4: Space and time - focused time
Allocate a time and place for your online class, as if it were a face-to-face class on campus.
Work out your best time of the day for studying, and allocate some of this time to online study. As well as time of day, find the best space for studying - a quiet area with the fastest internet you can access.
Focus: Ward off interruptions by wearing headphones and consider a sign on your desk/door that tells others you are studying.
Close the windows: Do NOT try to study in Moodle with FB open and Instagram pinging on your phone. Time with other apps could be a reward for a concentrated 20-30 minutes of proper study
Advice from a student: When I arrived at Waikato orientation I was given a big calendar for my wall, so I use that to plan the reading, discussion and assignments.
Tip 5: Discipline and reward
- Reward yourself after you have done the work. Your reward for a study session could be time with friends, a trip to the gym, or a single episode on Netflix.
Tip 6: Find a study group
- Online study does not have to be isolating. There are other students in the class too, so make time to meet with some of them – in person, on campus or as part of a regular coffee group; or synchronously online via Skype or appear.in
- Talking about your work and brainstorming together can help you to learn and to overcome obstacles. Remember that any confusions about requirements or assignments should be referred to your lecturers.