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News Essential Tips to Help Students Overcome Online Learning Challenges

Many universities have announced that large classes and lectures will be online-only for the foreseeable future due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This will undoubtedly pose some challenges for students starting or returning to university this term.

Here are the key challenges students are likely to face with online classes along with specific tips on how to overcome them.

Technical issues
In an online environment, it is highly likely that some study sessions will be interrupted by a problem with your PC or a poor WI-FI connectivity. It is important to remember that although these types of problems can be very frustrating, there is usually a fix.
The Solution: At the start of term, ensure you have the contact details for your university's IT support services to hand. If you are faced with a technical glitch that you cannot resolve yourself, don't be afraid to ask for help. If the problem persists, also notify your instructor so that he or she is aware of the problem.

Using unfamiliar digital tools
In some instances, you may need to use digital tools you have never used before. Being prepared will save you time and frustration further down the line.
The Solution: Find out how your online classes will be delivered, what the course expectations are and which digital tools you will be required to use. Take some time to familiarise yourself with any tools or apps you will be using and reach out to your university's technical support or academic staff if you have any questions or difficulties.

If you are remote-learning from home or from your university accommodation, there are likely to be more distractions than in a "normal" learning environment, especially with family or fellow-students around. You may also be tempted to check your social media or browse the internet instead of focusing on your study.
The Solution: If possible, set up your study station in a separate room or quiet place where you are less likely to be disturbed. You can also schedule your study sessions during quieter times of the day (or night) based on the daily routines of those you live with. If you get distracted by social media or other web activity, there are a number of website and app blockers available, some of which are free.

Self-discipline & Time management
Self-discipline and time management are often the two most difficult challenges online learners are faced with as they depend entirely on self-motivation. In an online environment, students need to create their own study schedules and, more importantly, stick to them!
The Solution: Create your own "time-table" where you designate set times every day for study. You may also wish to share this with those you live with so they don't disturb you during your study sessions. Setting short and long-term goals for yourself can also help you stay focused and decide on how you will reward yourself on completion of those goals.

Staying motivated
Learning online puts everything in the hands of the students to organise themselves and keep on track. This can sometimes lead to a loss in focus and difficulties with staying motivated.
The Solution: In addition to having a regular study routine and a productive study space, it is important to keep track of your daily achievements. Start each day with a to-do list and then check mark off all the tasks you've completed at the end of the day. Feeling positive about what you've achieved each day will help you stay motivated. Also, don't forget to allow yourself time for other things not related to your study - appoint some time to relax, do a sport you enjoy,or spend time with friends and/or family. Keeping in touch with classmates and reaching out to academic staff to ask questions and discuss your concerns can also help with motivation. And finally, keep reminding yourself of your ultimate goal and the reasons why you are studying.

Staying connected
Studying in an online environment means that there will be considerably less (if any) in-person interaction with classmates and instructors which can be particularly challenging at times.
The Solution: Make use of videoconferencing tools such as Zoom, Skype or FaceTime. These can be useful for group work where you can discuss and resolve your queries with other students. Some instructors may provide virtual office hours allowing their students to speak to them directly, typically through video, audio, or live chat. Find out if these are available, and when and how you can access them.

MoocLab's Online Learning Checklist
Click on the image below for 8 Tips on how to Succeed with your Online Learning or download it here
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