Doing a degree which will be taught fully online can seem a little daunting. The following tips will help you prepare for the upcoming academic year.
- Check your schedule and plan ahead. How many lectures do you need to watch every week? Are there any classes and other online events that you have to attend? How many readings do you need to go through each week? Do you have any other responsibilities or tasks that you need to schedule into your week?
- Develop a study plan. You will need to be disciplined when studying an online degree. Allocate time to various activities to make sure you get them done and factor in time for breaks, as it is often unproductive to study for hours on end. Check out the Study Hub Time management page for tips and strategies.
- Find out the technical requirements for your course. Read through your handbook and any other guidance to check what software will be used for teaching (e.g. Collaborate, Microsoft Teams, Zoom). Information Services have guides on these here. Be sure to access the software before teaching starts, so that you have time to familiarise yourself with it and make sure everything works properly. Check if you need to download any other additional software – for example, is there a statistical package you need to install?
- Read all guidance and emails. Your School and course organisers will communicate what learning and teaching will look like for you, as this can differ between schools, degree programmes and courses. Make sure to read all of this information carefully and don’t hesitate to ask if anything is unclear.
- Minimise your reliance on WiFi. It is easy to keep accessing all of your readings, coursework and lectures online. Until it is not. When your WiFi crashes, you may have to go hours without being able to study the things you want to. So, make sure you download any necessary material so you can access it offline in case you experience internet problems.
- Find a peaceful place to study. Negotiate with whoever you are living with times that you will need quiet to get on with work. Similarly, be respectful during their study times. If possible, try to separate your study and leisure areas. When you are studying, do your best to eliminate distractions from social media or anything else that might divert your attention. If you don’t like studying from home, you could find other study spaces close to where you live – for example, is there a library or quiet café where you could study?
- Ask for help if you hit a wall. We all struggle with course materials from time to time, and you can only make the most of your learning by asking for clarification on the things you are stuck on. Find out who to ask (e.g. a lecturer) and how – this may be detailed in your course handbook.
- Get to know other people doing your course. Is there any way you could get in touch with some of your coursemates? Perhaps you could set up a WhatsApp group or schedule regular Zoom meetings to get to know each other and study together. Doing an online degree can feel isolating sometimes, as everyone is studying from different places and stuck in front of their own screen, but getting to know people can really help and create a sense of community.
- Know that online learning has unique opportunities and challenges. Though it may be difficult at times, studying fully online also has many advantages – it gives you a lot of flexibility and is a unique learning opportunity.
Over the course of the academic year, we will be providing more articles on the Study Hub Blog on a wide range of topics to help you throughout your online degree. Stay tuned!