So there you are, hitting the internet in search of some study tips for online learning – a magic bullet (or two or three) that will help you master the course material, get good grades, earn your degree and advance your career. Nothing wrong with that.
Except the magic part.
There is no single magic key to study success. Case in point: My kids.
My son figured it out in the second grade. He realized that the sooner he finished his homework, the sooner he got to play. My daughter, on the other hand, is a born procrastinator … despite entering this world over two weeks before her “due date.”
Fortunately, they both get good grades. (I blame their mom. She’s the smart one.) For the boy, motivation was the key. I’m still not sure what the girl’s secret is. But something works for her. And that’s what I want to give you, something in the tips and insights below that will work for you.
But, first thing’s first – you need to know … you. Or, in this case, you need to know your learning style.
Know Your Learning Style
If the world’s greatest instructor were to teach you how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, do you think you’d learn better by …
- Watching the instructor do it?
- Listening to a description of the process?
- Jumping right in?
Knowing your learning style will help you determine which tips for online learning success will work for you best. Visual learners process information best by seeing it – they like graphics, charts and videos. Auditory learners grasp concepts better by hearing it – they do well in groups and often read material out loud to better understand it. Bodily-kinesthetic or tactile learners are active. They move. They solve problems – or sandwiches – best by actively engaging with them.
For more on learning styles, as well as insight into how men and women think differently, check out this blog on Mansplaining, Spaghetti, Waffles and Learning Styles.
Try Some Tried & True Study Tips
Take notes – don’t count on your memory, write it down during the lecture. Review the material right after class while it’s still fresh – make notes to clarify points you made. Write out a summary of what you’ve learned.
Space It Out!
Don’t space out – space it out. As in space out your study times and sessions. Cramming the night before only works if you’ve been taking in the material all along. (It also helps if you focus on only one topic at a time.)
Move It, Move It!
While you’re spacing out, spread out. Take your study sessions to different places. By studying material in multiple settings, you force your brain to form new connections with the material, strengthening your memory and recall of the same.
Write down some questions in one study session to ask yourself in another. Read a chapter, then close the book and write down everything you can remember. Put it in a summary. Check the chapter – how’d you do?
Study with a buddy. Engage your classmates. Put together an online study group. Send out a chat asking for fellow students willing to be accountable for set study times and quizzing each other. Develop an agenda. Create a study guide and share it.
For other ways to take control of your learning – and therefore your study routine – see 3 Strategic Study Skills to Help Online Learners Succeed.
Create Your Own Tips for Online Learning Success
Now that you have some tactics for studying success, adapt these study tips for online learning to your learning style. This is your magic bullet time. For example …
- Write Right … If you’re an auditory learner, say the words aloud as you write them down. Read your summaries out loud. Find a willing study partner and explain the concepts to him or her using your own words. Out loud.
- Space It Out … for a tactile learner, move around. Act out the scene if it’s a story or a play. Maneuver the salt and pepper shaker armies on the table top if you’re learning about a famous battle. Use flashcards if you’re learning math.
- Test Yourself … most of these tips are already oriented to the visual learner – reading, writing, reviewing. So let’s take it up a notch. If you’re learning a new language, use home-made flash cards. Download a picture. Write words describing it (nouns, verbs) in the other language on the other side of the paper.
Best of the Rest
You know when you’re at your best. Make sure you schedule some study sessions at these times. Right before bed? Fine, some say your brain will strengthen these new memories as you sleep. Early in the morning? That’s good too. 3 a.m.? Not for me, my friend.
Don’t overtax your brain. Eat a snack (healthy snack). Watch a show. Play a game. Make a phone call. Jog. Again, you know what works best for you. Just don’t get caught going down a rabbit trail and forgetting you need to study. I’ve had to study too many times at 3 a.m. simply because I allowed myself to be distracted while taking a break.
Science doesn’t dig tunes. Apparently cognitive performance suffers because music can be distracting. (I wrote a blog about it.) Bottom line, the brain wants to interpret the words … and you’re supposed to be studying the course material. If you can’t do without music, listen to something that is easier to “tune out.” Keep the volume down. Try instrumental or Classical music.
My wife (the smart one) is a high school math teacher. She generally leads the school district in test scores for age/course equivalents. She gives her students peppermints and lemon drops on test days. These candies are good for stimulating thought, helping students do their best.
In through the nose, out through the mouth. Calms nerves, fills the lungs, gets the brain working.
Looking for a good online program to go with these tips for online learning success? Grantham University has you covered. Use the blue bar below to contact us today!