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10 Ways to Maximise Your Online Learning Experience – Peter Smith

There has been a boom in online teaching in recent years and since the Covid-19 outbreak many students have had a chance to learn a language online for the first time.

However, not all students find learning online easy. Online learning requires knowledge of an online platform, organisation, self-discipline, self-motivation and the right attitude.

Here are 10 ways to maximise your online learning experience:

 

1. Be positive

There are many benefits of learning online:

  • It’s more efficient than a face to face class as you don’t waste time travelling to a physical location.
  • It can be more flexible as classes can take place at any time.
  • You don’t have to spend a lot of time worrying about choosing a complete set of clothes. You could be wearing pyjamas, although I don’t recommend it!
  • It’s cheaper. There are no travel costs for students and the fact that schools don’t need a physical location and can use online material means courses can be much less expensive.
  • Online teaching platforms and materials are getting better and better. You can work with other students online, use the internet for research and classes can be fun and engaging using video, online games and interactive chats.

 

2. Create a good learning environment. 

  • Your study area should be in a quiet area of your house and you should advise other members of your household so you are not interrupted. 
  • If possible choose a location with natural light and fresh air which will help you keep alert.
  • Online classes can produce pain in necks, wrists and backs, so it is vital to have a comfortable chair and ensure the computer screen and desk are at the right height as you need to be comfortable throughout the whole class. 
  • Have a dedicated space for study. Having the class in bed or on the sofa might be tempting but if you are too comfortable you will not pay enough attention.
  • Keep objects on your desk to the minimum to improve focus. 

 

3. Get the technical set up right

  • Make sure you have a strong WiFi connection in your study area.
  • Use headphones to help reduce background noise.
  • Use a webcam. This will keep you engaged and help your teacher to see your facial expressions when you do or don’t understand something.
  • If you are using a laptop, make sure it is plugged in! Online classes can drain batteries fast.

 

4. Be prepared for the class

  • Always join the class a few minutes before it starts to test your video, your microphone and your connection so you don’t have to waste time during class solving technical problems.
  • Have a notebook and pen or digital notebook handy. One advantage of online learning is that you can cut and paste examples of language directly from the chat box and from other shared documents. I recommend Google Docs and Evernote as places to keep your notes organised.
  • If you are taking the class on your computer, have a mobile nearby as a backup if possible. You may not have all the functionality of your online platform on your phone but you will still be able to follow the class and participate if your computer crashes!
  • Go to the bathroom before the class so you won’t have to go during the class.
  • Have a drink nearby.

 

5. Be familiar with the technology you are using

  • Whether you are using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Classroom or some other online platform, get familiar with it by watching video tutorials on YouTube or on the platform’s website.
  • Practise with a friend to explore the use of the most important resources such as the chat box, how to send private messages, how to share your screen and how to use a breakout room. You could even do it in the language you are studying for extra practice!

 

6. During the online class

  • Close all windows and tabs on your computer except the ones you will need for your class.
  • Maximise the size of the online class screen.
  • Follow the instructions of your teacher but as a rule you should have your microphone muted unless you are asked to speak.
  • Have your video on. Some students don’t like being seen on video but having a row of faces makes the classroom experience much more positive and fun than seeing a row of icons. If you have your video on, you will pay more attention and not be tempted to look at your phone or other distractions!
  • Rest your eyes by looking away from the screen when the teacher is only speaking. You don’t need your eyes to listen!

 

7. Actively participate! 

  • Your teacher will try to involve everyone in the class but rather than wait, why not participate by answering questions and making suggestions.
  • Keep engaged by taking notes or asking questions in the chat box. The more you deeply engage in the lesson the less likely it is that you will be distracted or tempted to check email or social media.
  • Help your classmates. If you see a classmate has a technical problem or doesn’t understand a concept – help them! You will build good relationships and practise using the language at the same time.

 

8. After the online class

  • Online classes can be tiring on the eyes, so get away from the screen for a little while and move about.
  • Schedule a time to review what you have learned, check difficult concepts and/or do any related homework. If you do your homework straight after the class you may forget some concepts by the time the next class comes around, so it is a good idea to review things in between the two classes and prepare any questions you want to ask your teacher.
  • Organise regular revision sessions. This will help you remember key concepts.

 

9. Open Communication 

  • As well as communicating to your family/flatmates when you are online you should also have channels of communication open with your teacher and your classmates. 
  • A class WhatsApp group is vital if a student has technical problems during the class. Classmates can share documents and tell each other what the teacher is doing.
  • Keep in contact with your teacher especially when you have a problem. Teachers can often provide you with solutions after the class.

 

10. Keep Focused and Motivated!

To succeed in an online course is no different from succeeding in a face to face course. 

  • Have clear objectives and keep focused on what you need to learn.
  • Be clear on dates for assignments and exams. Use a calendar.
  • Use both in-class time and out-of-class time effectively. 
  • Keep motivated and learn from your mistakes and from your teacher’s feedback.
  • Remember WHY you want to learn this language.

It is possible that one day everyone will be learning online, so the more efficient you can organise your study now the more success you will have in the future! 

Happy online learning!

Peter

 

 

Glossary

alert (adj) – quick to see, understand, and act in a particular situation:

boom (n) – an increase in something, or a time when something becomes more popular

breakout room (n. phrase) – a separate online room where a small group can go to work together before returning to the main room

crashes (v) – if a computer or system crashes, it suddenly stops operating

dedicated space (n. phrase) – a space designed to be used for one particular purpose

drain (v) – to reduce or cause something to reduce

engaging (adj) – holding your attention or keeping you interested in something

handy (adj) – useful or convenient to use because it is close

maximise (v) – 1. to make something as great in amount, size, or importance as possible; 2. to make something larger on a computer screen

muted (v) – if you mute your microphone you make it silent

outbreak (n) – a time when something suddenly begins, especially a disease or something else dangerous or unpleasant

 

Image credit: Photo by Allie on Unsplash

PeterAcerca de Peter

Hi! I'm Peter and right now I am teaching students in the following: *General English*: (Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing, Grammar and Vocabulary) to improve your level. *Exam Preparation*: I am an official Cambridge examiner and ..

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