Online study requires at least as much time as on-campus study. Perhaps a little more, until you become accustomed to this way of learning and interacting with your teachers and fellow students.
Create a timetable
Just as you have a timetable for lectures and tutorials, you should create a timetable for your work at home. Allocate times for reading, making notes, having class discussions, and preparing assessments. Also allocate breaks, and exercise. Stick to your timetable.
Make a daily to-do list
Research suggests that crossing things off a list is motivating. So make a list of what you plan to achieve each day, and cross them off as you complete them. Do the most important things first, when your energy levels are at their peak. The satisfaction of completing these tasks can motivate you for the rest of the day.
It's been said that success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Persistence will be your key to succeeding with online study. If you can be resilient, tolerate minor technical problems, seek help when you need it, and persist through challenges, then you will succeed with online study, and be demonstrating the skills of a UNSW graduate that are so highly valued by industry and the professions.
There’s more to learning than just listening to your teachers and occasionally asking them questions. On campus you'd also be discussing ideas with your fellow students, and working with them on assignments in the library and cafes. This interaction is crucial to your success.
It's still possible online. If your course has synchronous (i.e. live) lectures, webinars, tutorials, or discussion groups then attend them and get engaged. You can also organise your own discussion sessions, using Facebook, WhatsApp or whatever method suits your group.
Recognise your learning style
We all study and learn differently. Successful students are those who recognise and capitalise on this understanding. If you prefer to listen to information rather than read it, use a text to read function in Word to listen to your written material. Similarly, when writing assignments, you may like to use the dictation function rather than physically typing. If talking about your course content helps your understanding (and much research suggests it will), FaceTime a fellow student to discuss your thinking. Even though your material may be presented to you in digital format, consider making handwritten notes as there is evidence to suggest that the physical act of writing notes assists understanding and recall.
Beware the multitasking myth
Despite what we hear and tell ourselves, multitasking is not possible for more than the most basic of tasks. Complicated tasks, such as watching an online lecture or writing an essay, cannot be done properly while doing something else. At best, we can just switch from one to the other. But the effort required to do that drains our energy and concentration, and we end up doing both less well. These problems can be avoided by:
- Having a work schedule
- Removing all distractions
- Turning off notifications
- Working in short concentrated bursts
- Taking breaks to maintain energy