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Last Updated on October 29, 2020

9 Remote Learning Tips for Efficient Learning

9 Remote Learning Tips for Efficient Learning

If you’re taking a course or a degree at the moment, chances are that you have to take most of your course from home instead of at a physical location. This is called remote learning and brings with it some unique challenges.

How do you learn efficiently when learning remotely? How can you absorb the material and learn at an accelerated rate, and most importantly, find enjoyment in it and keep up the motivation? This is what you will learn in this article.

I have split it into three parts:

  1. First, we will look at how to set up your learning environment to maximize your efficiency when learning remotely.
  2. Then, I will show you how to prepare yourself mentally for learning. If you’re not primed for learning, the material will not stick to your brain that easily.
  3. Lastly, I will explain how you can easily apply the most efficient accelerated learning techniques that exist.

Let’s get started!

What Is Remote Learning?

It’s easy to confuse remote learning with online learning. Before we continue, it’s important to define what remote learning is and how it differs from online learning.

The main difference that I want to point out is this: Remote learning is when the classes or courses have been designed to be taught in-person but are being conducted online. This usually happens, for example, during a pandemic.

Online learning, on the other hand, is when the classes have been specifically designed to be taken online. Courses taken on Udemy or EdX are examples of online learning.

The Basics: Preparing Your Environment for Efficient Learning

Before we get into some of the more advanced accelerated learning techniques, we need to cover some basics first. Without these fundamentals in place, it might be difficult to effectively apply the accelerated learning techniques that I will share with you later.

1. Have a Dedicated Learning Space

For efficient learning, focus is everything. Having a dedicated learning space that is set up in a way that makes you feel comfortable is a great help for your focus.

A lot of people find that this helps, mainly because of two reasons:

  1. Association – Since you associate that space with learning, you will be less distracted and find it easier to get into the correct mental headspace that is conducive for efficient learning.
  2. You’re making it into an enjoyable event – If you have a nice space with a good Feng shui atmosphere, you are more likely to associate learning as something you enjoy. As you will see later in this article, enjoyment is very important if you want to learn fast.

2. Get Rid of Distractions

Once you have set up your dedicated learning environment, get rid of all distractions from it. Distractions include everything from people, TV, radio, other open tabs on your computer, and most definitely your phone.

We are all different, and we get distracted by different things. So, knowing which distraction you have to get rid of is about knowing yourself and being honest about what distracts you personally.

3. Have a Dedicated Learning Time

If learning or studying isn’t your favorite activity, then scheduling in a set time every day as your dedicated learning time is a great aid. Apart from the obvious benefits of structure you get, it has an amazingly helpful side-effect: It’s less effortful to get started.

When you have promised yourself to abide by a strict time to go over your notes and revise, you don’t have a choice when that time comes. If it’s entirely up to you to choose when to study, you might sometimes put it off completely.

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As a result, you won’t establish the habit of getting started. And habit, my friend, is your greatest ally. Why? Because habit has the extraordinary ability to make difficult things easy.

In his amazing book, Essentialism, Greg McKeown says,

“Learning essential new skills is never easy. But once we master them and make them automatic we have won an enormous victory, because the skill remains with us for the rest of our lives. The same is true with routines.”

Prime Your Brain for Efficient Learning

What you do before a session can be just as important as what you do during it. If you’re not in a mental state where your brain absorbs new information with ease, half of your learning session might be wasted.

In this next section, I am going to give you 3 tips on how to get into the right mental headspace so that you can access states of laser-sharp focus and absorb the material with ease.

4. Look Forward to Your Learning Session

Jim Kwik, a world-renowned expert on learning and memory, says that learning is “state-dependent.” This means that the mood you’re in affects how efficiently you’re learning.[1]

Here is how memory works, according to Joshua Foer, the author of the brilliant book Moonwalking with Einstein,

You remember things by what you associate with them. If you’re on holiday or you’re having an amazing experience at an event, you are likely to remember this event because it had such a profound impact on your emotions. As a result, it’s very likely that you will remember a lot of what was said at that event. This is because you connect what has been said to how you felt emotionally during the event.

Humans are incredibly emotionally driven creatures. The way we learn and memorize things is also profoundly impacted by our emotional state.

If you struggle with looking forward to your learning session, try to realize what a great thing learning is. For many adults, learning is the most fun thing that will happen to you today. It’s a break from work and all obligations. It’s about upgrading yourself—it’s your time. What’s not to look forward to?

Now, I’m going to give you a simple but effective tool that will hack your brain into looking forward to the learning session. This will get you into an excited and positive state of mind—the best state for learning at an accelerated rate and to soak up knowledge like a dry sponge.

5. Segment Intending

Founder of Mindvalley, Vishen Lakhiani, has developed a great mental tool called segment intending that sets your day up for success. It’s the perfect tool if you struggle with staying positive about your remote learning experience.

The best part is that it takes only 1-2 minutes and is dead easy to do. You can do this in the shower or while you’re preparing your coffee in the morning.

Here is how it works:

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In your head, go through the course of your day, and split it into segments. The first segment might be your morning routine before going to work. The next one might be your commute to work, then the hours where you are at work. The last segments might be the time right after work, dinner time, then your evening activities. And the last one should be when you go to sleep.[2]

For each of these segments, imagine that they are going remarkably well. Imagine that you’re having a stress-free commute to work. Imagine that you’re having an extraordinarily productive workday while having fun with your colleagues. When you get to the segment including your study session, imagine that it will be really exciting learning something new.

It’s called segment intending because you split the day into segments and produce good intentions for each segment.

You might be thinking—why do I need to imagine that every part of the day has to go well and not only the study session, which is the focus here?

Well, there is a reason for that.

Imagining that every section or segment of your day is going well makes sure that sections of your day that are usually difficult won’t have a negative influence on your study session.

Let’s not kid ourselves here. We all know that a bad morning can ruin the rest of the day. That’s exactly why it’s so important to set good intentions for every segment of the day. Everything you do is interconnected.

It’s such a simple technique, and it works like magic.

6. The Reset Technique

Let’s say you have had a long, stressful day. When you get home, you are supposed to study for two hours. How on earth are you meant to focus completely on your learning when the events that happened previously that day are gnawing away at your mind?

By using the Reset Technique, of course!

The Reset Technique removes emotional baggage from your mind. It “resets” your mind so that you can carry on with what you’re supposed to do with a clear mind free of all distractions. This will enable you to focus 100% on the task at hand.

I call it the Reset Technique because it pretty much works the same for you as a reset or restart button does for your internet router or computer.

Here is how it works:

Sit down on the chair by your study desk. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and count slowly down from ten to zero. Feel yourself getting calmer as you approach zero, and when you reach zero, your mind is in a relaxed state. For the next 2 minutes, just breathe in and out slowly and deeply and focus your attention on nothing else but the fact that you’re breathing in and out.

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Now, open your eyes. You have just done a quick reset of your whole “system.” Now, you can approach your learning session with a much less distracted mind.

I first heard about a similar technique from author and high-performance coach Brendon Burchard in an interview. He just called it “a quick 2-3 minute meditation” (which is exactly what it is) and proposed it as a way of not carrying emotional baggage from one part of your day into the next part.[3]

Accelerated Learning Techniques for Remote Learning

So far, we have talked about how to prepare yourself and the environment around you to maximize your learning efficiency. Now it’s time to focus on the actual learning session.

This is where the magic happens.

7. Note-Taking

Note-taking is incredibly important if you want to learn fast and efficiently. Sounds obvious, right? Still, few people know how to actually use their notes after they have taken them. Let me explain.

If you’re watching a lecture on your computer screen, take a quick note of everything that sounds like it might be important. Straight after the lecture, while the information is fresh in your head, go through your notes and collect all your key points on a single sheet of paper. Try to not include anything that isn’t a key point.

The reason why this helps is that having an overview of the whole topic makes it easy to understand the big picture of the subject you’re learning. Having all the key points neatly on a single page makes you feel less overwhelmed. If all the key points can get space on one page, you feel confident that you can learn it easily.

If your teacher has already provided you with a list of key points, it might be tempting to think that this relieves you of the obligation to make notes yourself. But it’s important that you make your own notes with your own words. The reason why this is so important will become evident to you when I tell you about the Feynman Technique, which is my next tip.

Learn to make note-taking your habit too: Why Successful People Take Notes And How to Make It Your Habit

8. The Feynman Technique

“If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” –-Albert Einstein

What Einstein said above is what the Feynman technique is all about. This is a learning technique that Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman developed and used himself.

Using the Feynman Technique is easy:

Pretend that you are explaining a concept that you’re learning to a child. You can either write it down or say it out loud. Identify the parts of your explanation that you’re struggling with communicating clearly, and take note of gaps in your understanding of the concept. Then read up about the concept again and try to simplify the explanation one more time. Repeat this until you can confidently explain the concept in simple terms.

Why is the Feynman Technique so effective? Shane Parrish from Farnam Street puts it well:

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“Sometimes we use jargon and complicated language to hide what we don’t understand. The Feynman Technique lays bare the true extent of our knowledge.”[4]

To explain something in your own words, you are forced to really think about it. This is exactly why teaching is one of the best learning techniques. If you want to learn something really well, teach it to somebody.

9. Spaced Repetition

Spaced Repetition is the single most effective technique for solidifying something in your long term memory.

Spaced Repetition is a memorization technique based on progressively increasing the time between each time you review the material you are learning. Repetition is essential if you expect to remember something long term, and Spaced Repetition is one of the most successful structured repetition systems for this purpose.

Spaced Repetition has been tested by psychologists and has proven to be more successful than repeating previously learned material at random intervals. This is because you take advantage of your brain’s psychological spacing effect and involves reviewing the material at the point when you are about to forget it.[5]

This technique stems from the work of the psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus. He developed something we today call the forgetting curve. This is a graph that shows that each time we actively recall the same information, it takes longer for it to decay from our memory.

    In my opinion, the best way to start taking advantage of Spaced Repetition is with an app such as Anki. This app will automatically space out the time intervals for you, based on how well you remember the information you are reviewing.

    Learn more about Spaced Repetition here: How to Use Spaced Repetition to Remember What You’ve Learned

    Summing Up

    That’s it. This is how you maximize your learning efficiency for remote learning in 3 easy steps.

    1. Set up your environment to maximize your potential to stay focused.
    2. Prime yourself for learning.
    3. Use accelerated learning techniques.

    Now it’s up to you to take action and apply the tips and techniques we went through above. Remember, the hardest part of doing something hard is starting it. Continuing to do it is a lot easier. So, once you’ve started, you’re over the worst part.

    More Tips on Learning Efficiently

    Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Sindre Kaupang

    Entrepreneur and filmmaker, founder of Productive Headspace and Beyond Music

    4 Proven Ways To Improve Your Memory (And Learn Faster) 9 Remote Learning Tips for Efficient Learning

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    Last Updated on November 27, 2020

    How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques

    How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques

    Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes effectively.

    I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

    One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

    Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

    The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

    And if you focus on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

    What to Write Down

    Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

    Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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    1. Dates of Events

    Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

    For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

    2. Names of People

    Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

    3. Theories or Frameworks

    Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

    4. Definitions

    Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

    Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

    5. Arguments and Debates

    Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

    This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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    6. Images

    Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

    Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

    7. Other Stuff

    Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

    8. Your Own Questions

    Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

    3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

    1. Outlining

    Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

    Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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    For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

    2. Mind-Mapping

    For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

    Here’s the idea:

    In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

    The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

    If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

    You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

    3. The Cornell System

    The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.[1]

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    About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

    You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

    In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

    You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

    The Bottom Line

    I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

    I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

    More Note-Taking Tips

    Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Cornell University: The Cornell Note Taking System

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