Tips for getting the most out of online study from an academic who teaches online

While some of us are new to studying online, lots of La Trobians have been using this way of learning for quite some time.

That means we also have lots of our accomplished teachers familiar with deliverying their courses online.

Take education lecturer Rebecca Miles-Keogh, for example.

We asked Rebecca what advice she had for students about to embark on online study for the first time. Read her tips in her own words below.

Schedule for success

“Be honest with yourself as you think about what time you are going to study. It can be very easy to begin enthusiastically, rush through a few weeks of material, then get busy with other things and before you realise it you’re a couple of weeks behind. Think about setting a specific minimum time for studying in each subject and block it out as unavailable for other activities. What will you do when your best friend is bored and needs you to entertain them during this time? Or when you’re with studying and want to clean the house, bake a cake and watch Bold and the Beautiful (all at the same time) instead of your ‘study time’? Thinking about and planning for different situations ahead of time can help you when those moments actually hit.”

Plot your assessments

“Become familiar with the schedule of assessment tasks and how these it into your study planning. If you  need an extension on one task, then that will have an impact on the next assessment task, and the next one, and so on. Plotting your assessment tasks on a calendar, making a poster for your wall, or leaving a list on the toilet wall are all ways that you can keep your assessment tasks visible. Once you’ve plotted out the due dates, have a look at how long they are and plan when you should begin working on them so that you have enough time to complete, edit, proofread and submit on time. One final point – do not consider proofreading a negotiable use of time!”

Need help? Ask for it!

“Be aware of the support services that the university offer and access them. There is so much support from academic support, library support, administration support, through to counselling.  Know what you need to do to apply for an extension, know what you need to do to apply for special consideration. You’re paying to be a student and a member of the university community, so don’t waste the support and access that are available to you.”

Engage, engage, engage

“Make of Zoom tutorials and forums in subjects. Ask questions – everyone else will want to know the answer too. Turn up to Zoom classes and make the most of having your lecturer available to you. Use the forums to think through the questions and problems and ideas that you are learning about. Connect with your peers to talk about what you are learning – this is even more important online than it is face-to-face. Don’t waste the opportunities that are available to you.”

It’s okay to find things difficult

“Learning can be uncomfortable (because it is challenging what you know and building on that knowledge). Learning online can be even more uncomfortable because you don’t have the immediate feedback from peers and lecturers that you get in person. Accept and work through this discomfort – and reassess what you understand about learning!”