Online teaching has become more common in the (hopefully) latter stages of this pandemic. While not ideal, this method encourages more autonomy and responsibility over one’s learning. That being said, without proper guidance and feedback, students can find themselves trapped in inefficient systems of learning. Here’s a few to keep an eye out for:
Passive Learning. Without their peers and teachers present to challenge and instigate students into engaging with the material, many students fall into the trap of passive learning. This could be watching videos, highlighting notes, or reading over a textbook until your eyes glaze over and you have to restart. Don’t get me wrong, these are valid ways of introducing yourself to a topic. However, when it comes to full-comprehension or revision of the content, they are lacking. Proper comprehension and retainment of information is through actively engaging with the material. For example, as a tutoring Milton, where this concept of teaching is practiced successfully. There is a well-known concept called “The cone of experience” by Edgar Dale that sums it up perfectly . It states that individuals remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 70% of what we say or write, and around 90% of what we personally experience. In other words, things like make summarized notes of the readings, making flowcharts, or trying to explain the lecture you just watched to someone else are efficient ways to better conceptualize and understand your subjects.
The one and done method. Okay so you’ve learned your material using active methods and you have gained a better understanding thanks to it. Congratulations! Now what? Well for many students, it’s on to the next subject or the next topic. Well that choice might come back to haunt you when it’s time for the exam and you see that you might need a refresher course on those last subjects. Just to reiterate, active learning will allow you to comprehend and retain information better. Unfortunately, unless that newly learned information is consolidated (in other words: reviewed) every once in a while, it is lost and doesn’t make its way into our long-term memory. This obviously makes it very hard to recall information. This is where the idea of spaced repetition comes in: It’s not about how much you practice, but how often. Make sure to go over past topics every once in a while to keep that information consolidated!
The “overdrive” mentality. We’ve all watched those motivational interviews with people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, who wake up at insane times and work crazy hours to achieve their goals. These kinds of stories inspire us but usually also cause us to try and overload ourselves with work and pull all-nighters in an attempt to be productivity gurus ourselves. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way. In fact, self-care is important in learning! As an example, many studies have shown how getting the correct amount of sleep at night has a direct effect on learning and test-taking. We all have motivated days and days when we’re not up to it. Know your limit and keep reasonable expectations of yourself. Your goal isn’t to work 100-hour weeks and burn out in a month, It’s to get used to a consistent and efficient work schedule. You want progress, not perfection.
Online Learning is difficult for many students and while there is no “explicitly” wrong way to study, some methods are more efficient than others. Try your hand at different methods and find what’s right for you, but most importantly: stick to it.