Online study techniques
Although online study offers more choice about when and where you study, it is important to remember that self motivation is necessary to succeed. You need to take more responsibility for your learning.
- Without set lecture times it is easier to waste time and put off studying and attend to other responsibilities that seem more pressing.
- It is easy to get distracted and overloaded by information on the Web.
- You can feel isolated and lonely.
- There is a large amount of text-based material to read and study is often very dependent on reading and writing.
- Most communication is written. Face-to-face contact with the other students or the lecturer may be rare or completely absent. Learning to use technology and technology breakdowns can create delays and frustration.
- You need to communicate with your lecturers. They cannot see if you are struggling in class. Don't feel shy about e-mailing or ringing. Remember that they want you to succeed.
- Log on regularly: check for messages at a regular time each day.
- Note down times you must be online for compulsory communications.
- Stay on task: searching websites not directly related to study wastes your time and money.
- Allocate time: work out how much time you will need to spend on the course each week. Mark specific time/s for each online course in your diary now. You could use a timetable planner for this.
- Use a wall calendar: put it in a place where you cannot ignore it. Mark on assignment deadlines and online discussion dates, etc.
- If you share the computer, work out a timetable. Keep to it, otherwise arguments will happen! Show times when you have to participate in compulsory online sessions for your course.
- Create a studying space and not an entertainment space. Move the computer away from the T.V. and stereo room.
- Accommodate your body. There is no lecturer calling breaks. Get up, stretch, and walk around every now and then. Use a height / back adjustable chair that gives you proper support. A copyholder can help with reading at eye level while typing.
- Because you are not off-site in a lecture room your manager or colleagues may interrupt your study time.
- Discuss your schedule with your co-workers. Be up-front about the times you will be unavailable and keep to a routine.
Scroll down the page looking at the headings before you begin. This will help you to get the big picture.
- Look for the sections used to divide information. Has the author used paragraphs, numbering, headings, each main idea on a new page, etc.?
- Look for the main ideas in each section. Then re-read the information more slowly, look for further development and explanation of the main ideas. Look for examples given to illustrate the ideas.
- Give your eyes a rest every 15 minutes.
- Print off long documents instead of reading them online.
- Enlarge the font size on your browser for easier reading.
It important to take clear and concise notes form online sources and it important to correctly reference the source of the notes.
- Use your word processing application, e.g. Microsoft Word, to record your ideas.
- While you are still online open your word processing application. It can run in the background while you are reading the online material.
- You can switch to and from the application as you make notes.
- Copy material from the online source and then paste it into Word and save it. Remember to note the source of copied material.
- Print information and highlight key points; make summary notes / diagrams offline.
- Remember that you need to make notes, not just copy the information! Read over the information, pick out the key ideas and make your own notes under headings.
Is participation in online discussions a requirement of the course?
- The lecturer can check if you are accessing resources and taking part in discussions.
- Build up a good attendance / participation record online. Show your lecturer that you are working to get good results.
- Do your homework by reading, thinking, and preparing for the topic set by the lecturer before you go online.
- Communicating with your lecturer and other students is usually done through e-mail or discussion board. In Massey's Stream online courses you may find yourself using the discussion board or groups.
- In online discussions you can post a message at a time that is convenient for you. Take time to read and think about other student messages before you add your own. Get in early before someone else suggests your idea!
- Other discussions take place in a chat room where a number of students must be online and ready to communicate at a time set by the lecturer. Your typed message will appear on the screen and then other students can respond. You can also respond to their messages.
- Give and take. If you are looking at others' ideas it is important to be fair by sharing your own.
- Don't dominate the chat sessions.
- Remember that it is easy to misinterpret intentions online. Be respectful to others.