While most on-campus classes are making a return, online study is now a part of almost all university courses.If you’re an international student, you might have decided to start studying online in your home country while international travel is limited. Or you might be making the most of online study options to fit around work commitments.
Online classes are a great way to grow your knowledge, set yourself up to progress your career and meet like-minded people. Whatever your reason for studying online, get the most out of your classes with the following tips.
1. Engage with your learningOnline lectures aren’t designed like Netflix – your lecturers don’t expect you to binge watch their classes and they also won’t ask “Are you still watching?”. But it’s important to put aside time to get organised, look at your timetable and set up a study schedule that will manage your time effectively. This way you can avoid having to watch back-to-back lectures to catch up on your course work, meaning you are better prepared when it comes to tutorials and assignments.
“Online learning has a lot of freedom, so to speak, which makes it all the more important to be disciplined and organised.” – Murdoch University student Xuan Rui Yong.
2. Coordinate group chatsDiscussing coursework and problem solving doesn’t always need to be facilitated by your tutor or lecturer. There are a number of online tools such as Skype or Zoom that you can download for free to enable you to coordinate video chats. Use these programs to set up study groups with course-mates so you can talk through key learnings, analyse texts together and swap study tips.
Set up the group chats with purpose by planning discussion topics beforehand to keep the discussion productive.
Group chats also help add social contact so you are less likely to feel isolated whilst studying alone, and learning and understanding how others think helps to enrich your own learning experience.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for helpYour tutors and lecturers want the best for your learning and encourage you to reach out for advice or clarification. Murdoch University offers high quality classes whether they be online or in-person, with the same five-star support provided to students no matter how you are enrolled. It's important if you're struggling with a topic to be proactive and seek help as soon as you need it, rather than trying to convince yourself you will eventually learn it. If you don’t want to raise your hand in online tutorials, you can email your tutor or lecturer directly.
For international student Noa, reaching out and asking help was an integral part of her online learning experience.
“It was my first time to take online learning, so I was anxious. I was worried that I couldn’t hear the pronunciation, couldn’t communicate well, and couldn’t understand the content compared to face-to-face lessons.
“However, I was able to understand and actively participate in classes thanks to the teachers’ explanations and using the chat functions and camera. I was also able to check homework with everyone in a Zoom session every week and each tutorial gave us a question time.
“I could always ask the teachers questions by email, and the Program Manager contacted us diligently to check that we understood our homework.”
While some questions may be urgent, please remember that academics are helping other students too, so try to be patient when expecting a response.
4. Think about your work spaceIf you are new to studying online, you might find it difficult to adapt to studying at home, but there a few things that you can do to get yourself in the working mindset.
Make sure to sit in a comfortable place without distractions, have a notebook and pen handy and be prepared to take notes. Make sure that wherever your workspace is, that it’s ergonomic. Then ensure you keep all the things you need nearby so that you don’t have to keep getting up.
Another option is to study away from your home where possible. Try to find a local library or internet café that could facilitate your needs.
5. Regularly back-up your workEven the most organised person could fall victim to technology malfunctions. Computers provide an easy filing service, but you should also remember to save a back-up of your work. Set yourself reminders to save your work to an online filing service such as Google Documents or Dropbox, or to an external USB.
Using online services also allows you to access your work on-the-go from any device, making remote learning a lot easier should you find yourself studying in different locations.