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Top tips for effective online learning

Top tips for effective online learning


This pandemic is disrupting so many aspects of our lives. Universities and schools are pausing face-to-face teaching and students are learning online, many for the first time.

While change can be a challenge, temporarily learning online is an excellent way to keep everyone safe, while ensuring you can continue with your education. 

To help you keep on track, we asked our education experts for tips on getting the most out of your virtual classroom.

Create a dedicated study space

Look – studying in front of the TV, while it’s on, just isn’t going get the best results. Choose a place you can focus, remove any distractions and, if possible, keep it separate from your bed or lounge. A clear distinction between where you study and where you take breaks will help you focus. Also turn your phone to airplane mode when you are studying… those texts can wait.

Have a plan

Plan your time effectively so that you are engaging in your course on a regular basis. If you’re at school, a great way to do this is to stick with your regular 9am – 3pm school day (plus assignment and study time, of course). This keeps you in the rhythm (meaning it will be easy to go back to class when the time comes) and sets aside dedicated time for school work. 

If you’re at university, use your calendar and schedule in times and deadlines to watch lectures and complete assignments. This helps ensure that uni won’t become the last thing on your to-do list.

No matter what or where you’re studying, it’s important to set daily goals and deadlines to help keep motivation up and beat procrastination. These should be specific and easy to measure, like “I’ll watch two videos in module three and write 500 words on the first assignment.” 

Get the most out of tech

Familiarise yourself with all the technology that you will be using including your microphone, camera, how to engage in breakout rooms and file sharing programs.

Handy hint for you: Zoom is great, but many find the gallery view over-stimulating and exhausting when you’re monitoring the visual cues of so many different people. Switch to speaker view, so you’re only seeing one person on screen at a time. 

If you’re an ACU student, don’t forget AskACU staff are available to answer any queries you have around tech.

Actively engage in learning

Don’t be afraid to speak up. Your contribution will make a real difference to the class. Use your microphone to contribute to discussions. If you’re using chat, write full sentences, not text message abbreviations, and take notes as you listen. 

Taking notes can promote active thinking, boost comprehension, and extend your attention span. It’s a good strategy to internalise knowledge, whether you’re learning online or in the classroom. 

Make yourself accountable

Tell your friends and family about the subjects you’re taking, the assignments you’re working on and post achievements to your social media accounts.

Having a community and support network to encourage you will make a big difference. At ACU, we’ve created #ACUatHome – and we encourage you to share your online learning experiences via this hashtag. Whether it’s posting about your new study space, or even sharing a study break snack (important brainfood!) – tag us and your friends so everyone can get involved. 

Take breaks

Stand up and stretch every 20 minutes. Your body will be grateful, and your brain will be re-oxygenated. If you’re struggling with a task, walk outside, take a shower, or talk with a friend – it can re-energise you and may even give you new ideas on how to take on that project.

Sitting at your desk and staring at a screen for six hours straight isn’t conducive to focus. Step away, rest and refresh regularly throughout the day. 

Positive mindset

It’s completely normal to get anxious or stressed during uncertainty. To get through these challenging times successfully, try and foster a positive attitude and a flexible and open mindset. No one expects you to be perfect at online study – there are going to be hiccups. This type of learning is new not just for you, but often for your teachers as well. Find out more about staying positive and motivated during uncertain times.

Ask for help

Don’t be frightened to reach out to your parents, friends, teacher, lecturer or tutor if you don’t understand the content or don’t know how to do something. 

If you’re studying at ACU, please remember that we have plenty of resources and step-by-step guides available 24/7 at AskACU. To learn more about how ACU is managing the pandemic, check out our COVID-19 FAQs, which are being updated regularly.

Thinking about the future? Explore our courses.

Impact brings you compelling stories, inspiring research, and big ideas from ACU. It's about the impact we’re having on our communities, and our Mission in action. It’s a practical resource for career, life and study.

At ACU it’s education, but not as you know it. We stand up for people in need, and causes that matter.

If you have a story idea or just want to say hello, do contact us.

Copyright@ Australian Catholic University 1998-2020 | ABN 15 050 192 660 CRICOS Reg: 00004G