By: Sam Li
Hey, Marauders! Welcome to the next blog post. Today, we’re uncovering the recipe for successful online learning. Many of us have experienced the benefits of online learning, but this learning style also comes with its challenges.
Let’s start by discussing the different types of online learning and my top four suggestions for studying and succeeding this year.
Make sure to join our webinar happening tomorrow, July 20, at 5:00 p.m. (EDT), for even more online learning guidance. Register on OSCARplus.
Online learning methods
There are two main online learning methods: asynchronous/podcast lectures and synchronous lectures.
Asynchronous and podcast lectures are pre-recorded, online sessions guided by your instructor. You can view these sessions on your own time. Synchronous lectures occur in real time, and attendance (by joining the call) and participation are required.
Sam’s suggestions for student success
1. Make your workspace online learning-friendly
There are unique distractions when you’re learning online and remotely — from pets and parents to housemates, housework and more! To overcome this, I strived to create a distraction-free workspace at home.
First, I found a dedicated place to work and tried to avoid potential distractions. This helped me differentiate between life and learning spaces. It also helped me recall information easier on a test, since I studied in my test-taking environment — this outcome is supported by research, too!
Decluttering was important, too. On my desk, I always had my materials, schedules, snacks and water.
During classes or studying, I worked hard and got better at staying focused. I closed extra browser windows and apps, turned off my phone and even used web blockers. Be sure to check out my previous post on mastering time management for more tips on avoiding procrastination!
2. Stay accountable
As mentioned, some of your courses might be fully asynchronous, and it’s easy for lectures and assignments to pile up in these courses. Especially when it comes to catching up on lectures, leaving everything to the last minute is never your best option! My first accountability tip is to set aside a fixed time each week to complete your lectures. This simulates an in-person environment and encourages good time-management habits.
Work with your peers, too. Sometimes, having a friend working with you can be motivating, especially if you’re both working on the same task. You can also try messaging each other every now and then to check in on your progress on certain tasks. Tip: try working with a friend in a video call. Even if you have your camera, it’s just nice knowing someone else is working nearby.
3. Engage with instructors and peers
Try to use these methods to connect with your classmates.
These are forums (often hosted on Avenue to Learn) that provide a space for students to post questions about assignments or explore lecture topics in greater detail. Discussion threads may count toward your mark, or they might be entirely optional.
Check out this tip sheet for more advice on navigating discussion threads.
Reflecting on one year of online learning, I found that a lot of the open-ended, thought-provoking questions that instructors asked were met with awkward silence and little participation from students. So, my next tip depends on your comfort level, of course, but it will benefit you and your fellow classmates. Try your best to be that one brave volunteer and initiate productive class discussion. Then, others will feel more motivated and encouraged to add to the discussion.
Some courses may require you to work on group projects or give you the option of working with a classmate for an assignment. Overall, these are great opportunities to meet new friends and learn from each other! Be sure to check out our tips for having a great group work experience.
This might take some initiative from your end, but establishing an online peer study group can accelerate your learning this year. Just make sure to use active study strategies like testing and teaching one another.
Office hours are often under-attended. I’ve found that they’re a great opportunity to connect with peers, get assignment feedback and gain clarity on confusing topics.
I hope that this post has shown you some ways to find success in your online classes this year. For me, getting involved and contributing to class discussions was daunting last year, especially in a big Zoom call. However, I realized that it just takes one brave volunteer to spark productive conversations during learning activities, so I encourage you to be that person (if you’re comfortable)!
Your actions will promote others to add their thoughts and contribute to a welcoming class environment. Know that there are many students and staff at the Student Success Centre to support you, too — but, remember, it’s best to seek help early.
About the Academic Skills Prep Series
Throughout the second half of July, join us for live webinars as we share what it takes to be a university learner and how to advance your skills in time management, note-taking, reading, writing and much more!
Enter for a chance to win
This summer, make sure to follow @MacSSC on Instagram for all of our Academic Skills Prep Series contests! We also have one grand prize to finish the series off right! The grand prize is a $250 gift card to Best Buy, with a second and third prize of $100 and $50.
How to enter: Write a 250–300-word response that refers to at least three webinars, sharing what you found interesting and new in the Academic Skills Prep Series and how it may help you prepare you for your first year of university. Email your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org by 11:59 p.m., August 6, 2021. This contest is only open to incoming first-year students.