Regardless of where you are at in your learning stage, knowing the best way for you to learn is key to intellectual growth. Growth can’t be achieved in your life as quickly if you’re not retaining as much information as you possibly could.
But the tricky part about learning is the fact that there isn’t a universal method that will work for everyone. Everyone is different in their own way of studying and learning. To help with that, I’ve put together some of the most effective online learning tips that you can use for yourself.
Even though each one of us has different learning styles and preferences, these online learning tips are still as applicable to you as they are to me. Here are the 7 most effective online learning tips for all types of learners.
1. Use a Learning Strategy That Works for You
The first online learning tip is to use a learning strategy that works for you. What I mean by this is that there are four core methods for us to learn.
- Visual (learning through sight)
- Auditory (learning through hearing)
- Reading/Writing (learning through text and print)
- Kinesthetic (learning through action)
Not everyone learns exclusively through one of these four methods though. We often have a mix of each one of these things. However, there is definitely one style of learning that each of us prefers over the other if we can get away with it.
Knowing which type of learner you are most dominant in can help you devise strategies and techniques around your studying habits whenever possible. Of course, you can still use the other methods loosely or may have to rely on them more in certain circumstances.
2. Pick the Best Time and Place to Learn
This online learning tip does not only apply to online learning but offline/physical as well. Choosing when to learn and study is very important in terms of maximizing your energy and learning more efficiently. We all have different energy levels over the course of the day, and some of us prefer to do certain activities at certain points in the day.
For example, your night time might be the best time for you to be studying as you can retain more information and you’re more alert compared to studying in the morning. The same could be said about the morning as well given that some folks are more alert (early risers) during the day than they are during nighttime.
Being able to strike a balance between your energy and alertness levels while also considering the time of day is crucial when it comes to learning and studying and even doing other things.
Another factor that can come into play aside from time is location. The atmosphere around you can contribute greatly to the quality of your studying and learning time.
Things that can help with improving the atmosphere are things like:
- Listening to music such as soft jazz or classical music.
3. Taking Good Notes
Even if you’re not physically studying at school or in a classroom, note-taking is still an important part of learning and growing intellectually. How good your notes are will determine how useful studying them later will be. A sign of good note-taking is when the notes are written or seen in such a way that you know the sequence of information that was brought up revolving around them.
With that in mind, you want your notes to be as detailed as possible for you to be able to retain them. It’s also here where you can lean into the type of learner you are. You could write or type out the information and have key bullet points, have a trigger word to recall what was discussed in class, or use pictures to help you.
Some other strategies to consider that can help you out are the following:
- If you’re in a class that’s given assigned reading, read through it before the next class. Do the same with your previous notes.
- Keep your notes from each subject together. Have notebooks for every class or topic you’re deeply exploring. This way, you avoid confusing them or mixing up information while reviewing them.
- Always write down the main points of the topic so you can get a brief but solid overview of the subject.
4. Review and Simplify Often
Reviewing notes and previous ideas will, of course, be very helpful for you. Consider these as prompts that you’re able to use to recall the rest of the information. But instead of waiting until big tests or some other key date, I’d suggest getting into the habit of spending a half-hour every day to review content or notes. By reviewing things constantly, you’re not overwhelmed with the amount of information that you’ve got to handle.
Another thing you can consider is to simplify the process as much as you possibly can. I find this to be super helpful as it gets me to ask the question, “how can I make retaining this information easier for me?” This leads me to review my notes and reorganize them and then trim them down to easier and bite-sized pieces of information.
If you are constantly simplifying the process—from organizing notes to slimming them down—you’re still learning and growing. Some other methods for simplifying notes are highlighting or underlining keywords, concepts, or phrases. You can also employ more visual aids or construct mind maps to help with remembering better.
5. Avoid Distractions
This is probably one of the most obvious but also important online learning tips because any distraction is a bad one when it comes to trying to learn or review something. Sometimes, distraction comes from outside sources that are beyond our control. However, there are also several other things that are internal that can be distracting.
These are things like our cell phones or having various tabs on your computer up while you’re reading or studying something else. We don’t often think about those as distractions, but they can and will pull us away from learning.
Here are some ways that can help you mitigate distractions:
- Getting a white noise generator
- Listening to music that can help you concentrate and drown out any other sounds
- Turning off your cell phone
- Closing down tabs or even blocking access to certain sites during a period of time
6. Speak to Instructors or Use Feedback Loop
Another one of the key online learning tips is speaking with your teachers when you can or using the feedback loop if you can’t.
The feedback loop is similar to speaking to an instructor as you’re essentially roleplaying as the instructor and approaching the question with a fresh perspective and pair of eyes. From that perspective, you’re giving yourself feedback that wouldn’t be so different from a student/teacher relationship.
By employing the feedback loop or speaking to instructors, you’re able to look for more clarity and understanding in the situation. Seeking guidance also allows you to gain better insights and learn better and more effectively.
7. Study in Groups (Online or Offline)
Similar to talking to your teacher or using the feedback loop, discussing topics with other people around you is another way that you can help improve your learning. This online learning tip is a touch different from the previous tip because it’s more of a collaborative approach to understanding something.
There are other benefits as well with having someone to bounce questions and study together. It allows you to be more focused, bond more with other people, and can help you grow and maintain motivation, too. Studying in groups also helps you learn more efficiently and effectively.
The key to studying and learning is to make it as simple of a process as it can be for you. But developing this system is an acquired skill for everyone, and it requires plenty of time and patience on your part. This is especially the case given the current global pandemic that we are facing, forcing us to remote learning. But through these online learning tips, you’ll be able to get closer to building that system and making studying and learning for you easier and more effective.
Featured photo credit: Wes Hicks via unsplash.com
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