Surviving online learning: La Trobe PLA Tenzin Fox shares 6 realistic study tips

By Tenzin Fox, Bachelor of Science student and Peer Learning Advisor (PLA) Leader at La Trobe’s Bundoora campus.

In many ways, online learning represents one of the biggest changes to education in modern history. Not since the replacement of chalk and slate with paper have we seen such a radical shift in how content is taught. 

However, this does not make the digital space a forgiving space to navigate for anyone, especially during lockdown, as the lines between home, work, and study life become blurred, and Zoom fatigue and technical issues plague us all. 

So, without further ado, here are six tips and tricks to help you push through the pain and get the most out of online education.

1. Engage with the software

A cliché to be sure, but nonetheless a valuable piece of advice. Many resources that can assist you, from forums to referencing tools to handy notetaking programs are often tucked away behind a multitude of menus. Take some time to explore not only the university website, but places like the app or Microsoft store. There you will find a litany of applications to help you schedule your time, take notes, and set goals, many of which are free! If lockdown demands that you spend all day sitting at your computer, you may as well turn it into a one-stop-shop for all your organisational and study needs. 

2. Create separation between your desk and your life

Desks are a wonderful invention, almost too wonderful. The modern desk is a place where you can eat, work, communicate, relax, and on those late study nights, fall asleep at. Being able to do all these things at your desk does not necessarily mean you should though. It can feel like you never leave your seat, so it is important to delegate certain activities, such as eating, to other areas. Variety is the spice of life, and lockdown life certainly lacks spice. It is important to create as much of it as possible with what you can.

3. Make the recordings work for you

One benefit of this new model of learning is that it has, through lecture recordings, given you a new degree of flexibility previously unavailable to the generations preceding you. You should attend class whenever possible, but should life get in the way, the lecture recordings afford you a level of forgiveness. If you need to book an appointment, for example, to receive a certain vaccine, the lectures will be waiting for you upon your return. 

4. Check your emails regularly

This is one of the simplest, yet most important, pieces of advice on this list. Get into the habit of checking your emails at least every two days. Not only will you be up to date with the goings on of the university, but you will also be up to date with forum notifications and special opportunities that are only shown via email. Amazing opportunities can be lost in an inbox that is not regularly checked. Being on top of your emails is a valuable life skill, one you should establish early. 

5. Participate in group discussions

Zoom fatigue is real and speaking up in Zoom sessions when the host asks a general question can be both intimidating and feel like a chore. However, class is always better when you are engaging with what is in front of you. The group activities, the breakout rooms, the questions posed by the tutors, are all designed to help you understand a concept. The more you engage with these activities, and the more you can push past the awkwardness that initially accompanies it, the more you will get out of your course.  

6. Search broadly for what works for you

Online learning was thrown at everyone while their hands were full, and everyone has shown different strategies for catching it without dropping what they were already holding. Listen to people, find out what works for them, and most importantly, find out what works for you. You have different needs, different styles, and unique circumstances that will all impact your learning journey. The best favour you can do yourself is figure out what works for you early, instead of spending months desperately trying to follow in the footsteps of others who do not share your shoe size. 

For more great online study and time management tips, sign up for the Learning Hub’s upcoming #How2Uni workshops.

You can also drop in online throughout the week for a chat with a Peer Learning Advisor.