Online Study Tips

What to expect when studying online.

Whether you‘ve come straight from school or are coming back to study after a break, you’ll find studying online is different in many ways from your previous learning experiences.

- How many hours should I study?

- Will I have much contact with my class and my lecturer?

- What is an independent learner?

- What sort of device do I need to be successful with online learning?

- Study habits

- Study space


How many hours should I study?

For each course, you will be expected to spend about 150 hours a semester, or about 10 – 12 hours per week. So if you’re studying full time this means you’ll need to 40 – 50 hours per week set aside for study. It’s the same amount of effort required for an on-campus course.

Your learning takes place online, so your study time will be spent working through materials and learning activities, on independent study - reading, researching and writing assignments; discussing material with others in forums; and revising for tests and exams.    


Will I have much contact with my class and my lecturer?

You’ll usually have around 30-40 other students in your course. As part of your course work you’ll be asked to contribute to discussion forums, and invited to a zoom tutorial every week. Some courses may include group work where you’ll interact with your group via email and forums, and sometimes video calls.

You’ll also be able to contact your lecturer in the same way, though email, zoom, and the course discussion forums. The most important thing for you to remember is that your lecturers will expect you to be an independent learner – so, it is up to you to approach your lecturer if you want to ask a question.  


What is an independent learner?

Being an independent learner means taking responsibility for your own learning. It does not mean you have to learn all by yourself – the teaching staff and other students will all be involved in the learning process with you. But it does mean that you are “in charge” of your learning.   

So, for example, at university you will be responsible for:

  • Making sure you know what is expected of you for each course.
  • Setting goals and planning your study schedule
  • Finishing and submitting assignments on time
  • Choosing the best learning strategy (for you)
  • Monitoring your own progress and adapting strategies when necessary
  • Trying to work things out for yourself when you’re having difficulty, but …
  • Recognising when you do need help, and then asking for it.


What sort of device do I need to be successful with online learning?

We recommend using a laptop or chrome book, rather than a tablet or smartphone.

Smartphones will mean you are less able to fully interact with some of the online activities because the mobile format reduces the functionality of the resources. Using a tablet can limit the speed of your text input, which means that your assignments and discussion input will take a bit longer.


Study habits

The key to effective studying isn’t cramming or studying longer, it’s about set good study habits is about working smarter. Here’s our top tips:

  1. Write regular study times into a diary/calendar will to help create good study habits.
  2. Work in short bursts. Between 20 and 30 minutes is a typical concentration span.
  3. Stay motivated - Having an overarching reason for completing your course, or enjoying what you are studying, can help motivate you.
  4. Plan to take short breaks; Think about how much time you can study in front of a screen and adjust your study blocks as necessary.
  5. Don’t forget to try different methods of learning, such as writing notes, making mindmaps, etc., to give yourself a break from screen-based learning.
  6. For one of your breaks, it’s a good idea to do some exercise; exercise is great for your wellbeing, and oxygenates your brain, so it helps your study too.
  7. Give yourself rewards - You need to reward yourself to keep motivated, so give yourself rewards for tasks you complete. Slot reward activities into your weekly calendar after study activities.
  8. Stay connected with your course community - Interacting with students in the same course will motivate you to learn, and you’ll understand course material better by giving and receiving feedback.


Study space

Where you study is just as important as what you study. Follow these tips to set up a study space that will help you get the most out of your course.

  • Set up a dedicated place to study where you will not be distracted. It should be comfortable, quiet, well ventilated and have natural light.
  • Organise your study equipment - PC/laptop, desk/chair, reliable internet access, note books, diary, pens etc.
  • Have access to everything you need before you start.
  • Put your phone away during designated study time.
  • Use a clock to help set time-related study goals.
  • Study alone unless specific pair or group activities have been planned.
  • Anticipate interruptions and negotiate with friends and family to give you space during specific study times you have chosen.
  • Noise such as loud music, traffic, machinery etc. can make it hard to concentrate. Minimise this as much as you can.


Basic skills and requirements expected of students when they studying online

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