In the aftermath of the Indian and state governments recognizing the novel coronavirus as a pandemic, educational institutes including schools, colleges, universities and Test prep centres have been forced to shut down their classrooms. While most of the learning hubs have moved to a standstill and waiting for the situation to improve, some have quickly adapted to the online learning model for classroom delivery. IMS has been at the forefront of this change and has already started delivering virtual classes to thousands of its students across the country. The question now is how quickly students can adapt to learning online.
Most of us have spent our lifetime of learning in classrooms and are therefore used to studying in the physical classroom. And if we have ever studied online, most of it has been self-motivated learning using online tests and videos to supplement our classroom education. And then there are the limited few who have resorted to online training programs in the past either for convenience or due to timing/monetary/locational constraints.
Now that we are moving to the scenario where we have no choice but to study online (at least for the next couple of weeks), we need to first understand the basic difference between online and physical classroom. While learning online, you have to set the rules, the objectives and the discipline for yourself. Remember that the onus will now be on you to hold your attention, not get distracted and achieve the learning objectives set for the day. During the online course, you will watch LIVE lectures, solve online and offline assignments, watch recorded videos for concept learning, participate on forums like WhatsApp and Telegram to take quizzes solve doubts, discuss problems et al.
Here are 5 IMPORTANT TIPS to help you make most of the online learning process:
- Set up your learning environment
The main difference between studying in the classroom and studying online is that in the online mode you are responsible for the learning environment. You need to find yourself a comfortable place to learn and study. A well-lit room with an ergonomic work space would be a good to have but at least settle in with an orderly work place. Ensure you have a computer or mobile with reliable internet access and headphones to listen to the LIVE or recorded videos. The effectiveness of e-Learning can be increased by using a larger screen size – in other words turning your TV into a monitor would be more advisable than using your mobile screen. Use of Signal boosters or extra modems may help improve your access to reliable internet at home. Additionally, prefer using a wired internet connection over a Wi-Fi connection.
- Make a Study Plan – when to study, what to study
When? As a test prep aspirant, you will either be a school/college going student or a working professional. In either case, you need to first commit a few hours of the day to your online learning process. The right study plan is the one that blends your learning schedule along with the time required to fulfill other obligations and responsibilities. The plan you make should be practical – don’t make a plan which is devoid of any leisure time or buffer time to take care of exigencies. For example, you may decide to study for 4 hours every day from 8 AM to 10 AM and then 8 PM to 10 PM in the evening. Avoid studying for a longer stretch of time – especially if it only involves staring into a screen.
What? Draft a study plan that includes your LIVE class schedule, concept learning/revision using books and videos, solving of practice exercises to reinforce the learning and taking assessment tests. The plan should be made keeping in mind the ideal timelines to complete studying the various modules of your program. For example, if you plan to complete a module with 10 chapters in 5 weeks, you will need to ensure that you complete two chapters every week. Your plan should clearly state which chapter, which exercise, which set of questions or which test you shall complete during the assigned time slot for learning. A well thought and documented plan will help you stay on course to meet your preparation goals. Consider making Daily To-do lists to help execute your plan – check off each item as you complete it. This will help you study more efficiently and get things done faster.
- Avoid Distractions
Let everyone at home know when you are learning and request them to not bother you while studying – especially the mothers in the house:-). Consider turning off your phone and closing other internet browser tabs except the one you are using to study – this will also help you free up a bit of the internet bandwidth available to you. If you are someone who is likely to frequent the kitchen for a cup of coffee or a bottle of water or some snacks, ensure you stock everything with you before starting your prep. If you are a restless soul by nature, set a timer for 30 minutes, when the alarm goes off walk around for a few minutes and then return to work for 30 more minutes. If you repeat this four times, you would have studied for a couple of hours.
- Engage Online – be a part of a larger group
E-learning should not be treated as a lonely affair where you are staring at a screen, learning from someone staring at another. In online learning, if you have a question there are so many others who can answer it for you. And if someone else has a question, you can respond. When you help other people and answer their questions, others are more likely to reciprocate positively to your queries.
When you discuss your courseware with mentors and other students, you will learn more than if you were to rely on self-study alone. Our mentors have set up channels of communication on social apps like WhatsApp or Telegram. Communicate with them and fellow students on these apps to gain a feeling of community learning (just like physical classroom) and also a sense of camaraderie that can make online learning more fun.
A word of caution: Remember that other students can’t understand your body language or tone of voice when you communicate online, so avoid sarcasm unless you are speaking to someone who knows you. Always adhere to the suggested etiquette for any given forum – for example, is it ok to tease one another, or should you strictly stick to academic conversations.
- Stay Motivated
The presence of mentors and fellow students in a physical classroom usually helps to keep you competitive and motivated during your test prep. In case of a take-home online course, you are more likely to lose focus and motivation. It is important for you to keep reminding yourself of the learning objectives you set in the beginning. It’s a good idea to pin up a snapshot of your goals or pictures of your dream colleges at your workplace. You can reward yourself for achieving daily goals or weekly goals – think of rewards that can really keep you motivated through the course – maybe some extra time for entertainment or some extra calories to burn later.
The current situation has left the students with no choice but to start adapting to learning online. In my opinion, physical classroom will resume once the situation returns to normal but online learning is here to stay. Not because the online learning model is more effective than the physical classroom model, but because both of them blended together can be prove to be more effective in achieving learning objectives by leveraging the advantages of the two learning modes.