Online Study Tips
What to expect when studying online.
Whether you‘ve come straight from school or are returning to study after a break, you’ll find that studying online is different 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?
How many hours should I study?
Each course requires the same amount of study time as on-campus courses, so about 150 hours a semester, or 10–12 hours a week. A fulltime study programme will equate to 40–50 hours each week.
Your study time will be spent working through materials and learning activities; 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?
Courses are usually made up of around 30-40 students. 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 via email and forums, and sometimes video calls.
You’ll also be able to contact your lecturer 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. However, it does not mean that you have to learn all by yourself. Teaching staff and other students will all be involved in the learning process with you.
You will be responsible for:
- Making sure that 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 need help, and asking for it.
What sort of device do I need to be successful with online learning?
We recommend using a laptop rather than a tablet, smartphone or Chromebook.
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.
The key to effective studying is setting good habits so that you avoid cramming and work smarter rather than harder. Here are our top tips:
- Set regular study times in your diary or calendar to help create good study habits.
- Work in short bursts (20 to 30 minutes is a typical concentration span).
- Take short breaks. Think about how much time you can study in front of a screen and adjust your study blocks as necessary.
- Try to get some exercise during one of your breaks. Exercise oxygenates your brain, so it will help with your study and is great for your overall wellbeing.
- Stay motivated by knowing your overarching reason for completing your course and giving yourself rewards for tasks you complete. Slot reward activities into your weekly calendar after study tasks.
- Try different methods of learning, such as writing notes or making mind maps, to give yourself a break from screen-based learning.
- Stay connected with your course community. Interacting with other students will motivate you to learn, and giving and receiving feedback facilitates better understanding of the course material.
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, notebooks, diary, pens etc.
- Have access to everything you need before you start.
- Put your phone away during your 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 the specific study times you have chosen.
- Noise such as loud music, traffic, and machinery can make it hard to concentrate. Minimise this as much as you can.