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Getting Smarter through Language

How to Become a More Effective Online Learner | Page 4

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Adjust Your Learning Environment

Creating a study environment conducive to online learning may be difficult for some students because they may lack the financial resources to set up a “great”study area. However, it does not have to be “great.” You can even use the resources you already have (for example, a table or desk, an old lamp), so it does not need to be expensive. As much as you can, do the following:

  • Find a quiet place that you can always use as your study spot. It can be a separate room or just a corner or a table in a room that is just for your study time.
  • Make sure you have comfortable furniture and equipment: desk or chair, keyboard, mouse, etc.
  • Use appropriate lighting. You will be less likely to want to study if your study area has poor lighting.
  • Remove distractions (e.g., electronic gadgets and games, TVs) from your study spot.

Create a Study Schedule

Instructions. Get a piece of paper and come up with a study schedule. Do not just “think” about it; rather, create an actual schedule.

Here are a few things you should consider when creating your study schedule:

  • Be realistic. Find a balance between too few and too many hours a week. That is, if a course requires, say, 8 hours of study time a week, schedule neither 2 hours nor 20! Get as close to the amount of time you actually need.
  • For a new course, you may not know how much time you will need to schedule. Do your best before the course gets started. A couple of weeks into the course, you will have a better idea how much study time you will actually need, so you can modify your initial schedule.
  • Schedule shorter, consistent study sessions rather than one very long session. For example, to schedule 8 hours of study time a week, you will learn better if you can have four 2-hour study sessions than you will in one 8-hour session.

    Your brain needs time to absorb information. Several sessions a week will give you time to learn the information and review it as you start forgetting it. If you have only one, very long session, you do not have that benefit; besides, 8-hours studying the same topic sounds grueling!

Stick to Your Schedule

No matter how good your schedule is, it is useless unless you stick to it.

Here are a some recommendations to help you stick to your schedule:

  • Treat your study schedule as your busy time. If someone invites you to play a game online, but you have to work, you tell them, “Sorry. I’m working,” right? Treat the blocks of time in your study schedule the same way.
  • Print your study schedule and post it somewhere you can see it every day.
  • If you live with your family or roommates, let them know about your “busy times,” that is, your study schedule. Emphasize to them how important your schedule is and ask them to help you stick to it.
  • As much as possible, avoid moving your study time around to accommodate other activities. If you see your study schedule as “very flexible,” you will be tempted to prioritize other activities.
  • If your schedule includes more than one course, you may need to “borrow study time” from one course to another if one course has a time-consuming activity. However, be aware that borrowing time from one course means less time for another so, sometimes, you may end up having to extend your total time.