Tips for supported remote self-study
At the time of writing the COVID-19 pandemic was causing disruption around the world, making it difficult for people to attend their college and requiring a new approach to teaching and learning. Preparing for an assessment during the Covid-19 outbreak might mean you have to do more supported self-study where you are learning remotely, formulating your notes and knowledge and then contacting your tutor/centre with any questions you may have about content and application, rather than relying on face to face teaching to cover all aspects of the syllabus. Here are some tips for successful remote self-study.
Define your reasons for studying
Here's a simple 5-minute exercise to help get you through the tough times when your motivation is low and there’s part of you that wants to give up.
Take a sticky note or piece of paper and come up with the following three reasons why you’re studying.
- Why did you start studying?
- What are you hoping to get out of it?
- How will your life improve from your studying?
Write these down and then keep this sheet where you can see it.
Set realistic goals
Decide how long you will spend studying each day, how many chapters you will read. It’s important to develop a habit of learning, so set daily goals and give yourself a motivation to accomplish them.
Schedule your studying
Studying should not be a marathon. It is tempting to cover a lot of material in one go and then leave that topic. It is much more effective to break the information into bite-sized sections and study them in short, frequent sessions. This will keep you focused and will help you to keep what you learned in your head for longer.
Whilst studying remotely you will need to schedule your studies yourself and be disciplined enough to stick to it. Spend 5-10 minutes planning what you need to study during the week.
When setting your study schedule, ensure you set yourself a realistic target of what you want to achieve in each session. Don’t make the sessions too long and try not to go overboard as you might end up zoning out and missing vital points in your course.
Start the day right
Set an alarm, get up and out of bed at the same time. If allowed to, go for a walk and get some fresh air before starting your studies
Find what works for you
There are various learning strategies. Try which one works best for you. Use multiple strategies and avoid the boring routine:
- Read out loud
- Take handwritten notes instead of typing
- Create a mind map (see here)
- Find a remote/virtual study buddy
Setup a study space
Eliminate distractions - set up a quiet space where you can concentrate and work without interruptions. Create an environment that will help you to focus on the exam e.g.
- Turn your mobile phone off
- No television
- No music
For example - study hard for 25 minutes without distractions then take 5 minutes to refresh and stretch. This technique tends to result in you achieving more as 25 minutes is a manageable time to stay focused
Stay connected - coordinate group chats
There are a number of online tools such as Skype or Zoom that you can download for free and enable you to coordinate video chats with groups of people. Use these programs to set up study groups with course mates so you can spend some time discussing ideas, analysing texts together and swapping study tips.
Take the time to ask questions and keep in touch with your tutor
There are plenty of home exercise videos you can follow on YouTube - you may even find a new hobby!
It is a proven fact that exercise helps concentration and will improve your mood too, so it is important you take time to exercise daily.
You’re working hard and putting a lot of effort in and we think it’s only right that you reward yourself. Plan in a little treat for yourself.
Don’t forget to sleep and eat
You need to feel good to be productive. It might be tempting to stay up late studying, but you memory will not be at its best if you are exhausted.
How to learn effectively
- Have a dictionary – checking the words you don’t understand will also help you to remember them.
- Take notes – your brain will not remember everything you read. If you feel some information is important, record it.
- Highlight important pieces of information – it will stand out next time you re-read your notes.
- Identify the key points, examples and evidence for each topic.
- Reduce your lecture and reading material to brief notes and key words on index cards.
- Create mind maps – use this visual thinking tool to help structure information, remembering and analysing the key points.
- Vary the material that you revise: from the difficult to the more familiar.
- Study alone for some of the time, but also in a virtual group occasionally if you can.
- Remember your centre might be closed but your tutors are on hand to support any concepts or theories you might be struggling with
Don’t just read. Review!
Make sure to make a summary of the things you’ve learned that day. Take notes and review them once you finish the learning session. This practice will help you to absorb the material much more easily.
Follow up on the references
When you’re reading serious material, you’ll find references from books, scientific articles, statistical sources, and other types of publications that helped the author support the facts. Find those materials and you’ll gain a whole new dimension of the topic you’re focused on.