This pandemic completely changed the way students learn and interact in a matter of months. Gone were the days where we rushed to that unoccupied table in the library or coffee shop, desperate for first dibs. Or where we enjoyed walks out around the campus, petting the UP emotional support dogs and cats to get a better grasp on our sanity levels.
Prior to the pandemic, it was easy to hole ourselves into studying and take a break from it but now, we’ve had to read to the new normal in which studying at home is the only alternative. This new context poses unique challenges to all of us, but that does not mean that the digital learning experience must be subpar.
Whether you are new to online learning or on your 2nd year experiencing this unique setup, here are some important tips and tricks you can follow to better equip yourself for this new academic year:
Figure out your study habits
Not all students are built the same. The VARK Learning Styles (Fleming and Mills, 1992) identify 4 types of learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic learners. This helps in figuring out what kind of content you can consume that will help you grasp new concepts better and adopt relevant study strategies.
Aside from figuring out what kind of learner you are, you also need to think about when and how you work best. Are you a morning or night person? Do you study better if there are people around (like in coffee shops or libraries)? If so, you might find it helpful to have synchronous study sessions with friends and acquaintances over Google Meet, Discord, Zoom, etc. Think about the necessary preparations you need to get into the mood for studying.
Practice time management
Asynchronous classes allow the flexibility of creating your own schedules and learning at your own pace. That said, it’s also important to have suitable time management skills to take note of deadlines for school requirements.
This article from the Northeastern University from 2020 provides four time management tips that can help boost your productivity for the online setup:
- Look at the syllabus at the start of the semester and take note of major assignments and their due dates. Mark them on a calendar you check regularly so you know what your workload is for the coming in the weeks ahead. Don’t forget to factor in prior commitments that may interfere with your regular study schedule, such as vacations, so you can give yourself enough extra time to complete assignments.
- Create a weekly schedule for you to follow, designating certain hours each week to reading, watching lectures, completing assignments, studying, and participating in forums. Commit to making your online coursework part of your weekly routine and set reminders for yourself to complete these tasks.
- When working on your assignments, try time-blocking. Allot yourself a certain amount of time for each task before moving on to the next one and setting a timer to keep you accountable. This works especially well when you are taking multiple classes in a semester.
- Check in periodically throughout the term and look at how you’re spending your time. Regularly assess yourself as you figure out the various study habits that best suit you. If you find yourself always cramming for an assignment, reflect on what can be improved on and what can be adjusted in your schedule.
Committing and dedicating yourself in a schedule will help boost your productivity and increase the quality of your outputs. Find a schedule that works best for you and don’t be afraid to change it up a little.
Establish a productive learning environment
Set up a dedicated learning environment for studying. Choose an area in your home that’s free from distractions. If this isn’t an option, create your own space of peace by discussing your “quiet zone” with your family. A distraction-free environment helps you feel more at ease because you are no longer concentrating on everyone else. This overcomes the problem of not being able to concentrate when you try to study.
Regardless of where you choose to study, you may want to consider taking time off your phone, at the very least, from social media. If you are still finding the temptation hard to resist, consider downloading website blockers or phone applications to help eliminate distractions that compete for your attention, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Take down notes
Whether your classes are synchronous or asynchronous, habitually taking notes will make it easier for you to remember vital pieces of information. Keep notes on a Word document or a trusty journal for all instructional materials you find yourself across. For readings available online, you can highlight certain parts using your PDF reader’s built-in highlighter. Then go over the material again just so your brain can properly grasp the concepts and digest the information better.
Utilize your resources, including your UP mail
Internet access means that a plethora of learning and productivity resources is just a click away. A UP mail account (@up.edu.ph) affords UP students with resources that would have been costly if one were to seek them out for themselves. This includes:
- Google Suite for Education
- With unlimited file storage in Google Drive (!)
- Office 365 for Education
- Unlimited meeting time
- Up to 300 participants
- iLib: UP Integrated Library System
- This includes access to several online libraries (JStor, etc.)
- Unlimited access to papers and journals
- Canva for Education
- Same perks as Canva Pro
- GitHub Student Developer Pack
You can apply for your UP mail here.
Studying at home can be quite stressful. As such, be sure to take regular breaks to avoid strain (and make sure your study space is set up correctly). A quick break and walk outside can really revitalize you to continue your studies. In addition, you shouldn’t force yourself to continue working when you don’t feel like it. Do the work when you are in the right frame of mind. One can use the 20-20-20 rule, where every 20 minutes, you must look at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds.
As the quote says, a healthy body is a healthy mind. Eating well, eating healthy, and staying hydrated should also be your priority. If you are the type to forget this while running around doing everything, you can set up alarms just to remind yourself.
While it can be quite challenging, you should try to get enough sleep. When the brain is asleep, the mind can think clearly and go over past studying tips. Getting a good night’s rest is important to further boost your productivity and avoid burning yourself out.
Being a UP student is stressful enough due to the academic workload, and it can all be too much with all the issues that we keep up to date with. This is further intensified by the crippling helplessness we feel with the government’s pandemic response. That is why it is important to learn how to do social media detox from time to time, disconnect for a while when all the information becomes too much for you to process. You may stumble through obstacles in the process, but at the end of the day, remember that you are an iskolar ng bayan para sa bayan and that there is nowhere for us to go but up. Padayon, Isko! DZUP