Many education institutions have moved to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.  You may feel challenged by this change to your academic program, but you are not alone.

For many students, studying online is a new concept. There are many things you can do to make this transition easier. 

Establish a routine 

It’s easy to slip out of your normal routine when your class is taken in the living room and you can wear pyjamas. With this in mind, it’s important to develop a routine that fosters productivity and motivation.

Establish a healthy sleep pattern by going to bed at the same time every night and setting an alarm in the morning. Begin your day as you usually would: get dressed, have a healthy breakfast and start work at a regular time each day. Use a daily planner to schedule your time around online classes, lectures and independent study. Make sure you leave time for study breaks and downtime!

Learn how to use online tools  

Online learning involves using computer programs and software that you may be unfamiliar with. These will vary depending on your course, but it’s likely that you will be required to use online tools such as library portals, video conferencing software and file-sharing programs.

Take the time to familiarise yourself with any new programs that your course requires. If you find yourself struggling to navigate a program, then you can check YouTube for informative tutorials or reach out to your professors for assistance. Keep your software up-to-date and check that your computer is working efficiently before class. 

Create a positive study space

You will be spending a lot of time in the space you choose to study from, so it needs to feel comfortable and motivating. Find a quiet spot in your home and remove any potential distractions from the room. If you live in shared accommodation, make sure that your roommates won’t be interrupting any online workshops or lectures. It may help to use a room with a lockable door or simply let them know that you will need the space to yourself during these hours.

The space should be set up with everything you need for a productive study session, such as a comfortable chair and desk, stationery, textbooks, computer equipment and a fast internet connection. Make sure you feel happy in the space and consider adding some personal touches such as photographs or motivational quotes. 

Look after your health 

It’s normal to feel unmotivated to exercise or cook healthy meals right now. Adjusting to self-isolation and online learning already feels challenging enough to figure out, but now it’s more important than ever to look after your health.

Make sure you are drinking enough water and getting enough sleep. Consider taking a walk to get some fresh air or try out some yoga stretches in your study break. There are also several online trainers and classes you can use to find exercise plans. Making time for a small amount of exercise every day will improve your overall mental and physical health. Likewise, eating the right foods will boost your immunity and energy levels.

If you start feeling stressed, try out some breathing exercises or meditation, and remember to rest when you need it. 

Self-motivation  

Studying online means there are no friends to share a library table with or professors looking over your shoulder. In these circumstances, it can be hard to find the motivation to attend online lectures and stay focused enough to complete assignments. You might feel too overwhelmed to even begin.

Start by managing your time with a planner and a to-do list. It can help to break up the bigger tasks into smaller, more achievable ones. Afterwards, reward yourself with a study break, a healthy snack or a cup of tea. You can organise to study at the same time as a friend and hold each other to account, or you can have an online group study session over video call. 

Stay connected to your community 

Reaching out to your professors, classmates, family and friends can help you feel less isolated and retain a sense of community. Your educational institution and the staff are still there to support you. Introduce yourself over email, use the online forums and continue to foster relationships with your lecturers, tutors and unit coordinators. Join or create a Facebook group for your classmates to keep connected over the semester. Call your friends and family regularly. Use Facebook, Instagram, Zoom and Skype to stay connected, and consider writing letters to older family members who don’t have those options. 

Be kind to yourself and others  

It’s normal to feel anxious, overwhelmed and exhausted. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself; this new way of studying and living that might take some time to adjust to – and that’s okay. Try to be patient with your professors and tutors as they navigate online teaching. This is a new and difficult time for them too. If you are struggling, be sure to speak to your GP or psychologist, and look into your educational institution’s online counselling options. 

Tips from our 2020 Study Melbourne Student Ambassadors

We reached out to our Student Ambassadors to get their top tips for transitioning to online study, and to find out their app and website recommendations.

Pyper Savage, Australia, The University of Melbourne

Try to keep to a schedule. I have been trying to watch my lectures as though I never left uni. This is only possible if your lectures are uploaded prior to their usual in-person times, so if it isn’t possible to do this, setting a few hours a day aside for university is the next best thing!

I use Notify on my iPad to keep notes and write on lecture slides and find it to be super useful as my notes can be accessed on multiple devices! I also have the Canvas app downloaded on my phone so that I can access my schedules, calendars and lectures whilst out and about!

Rav Abeywickrama, Sri Lanka, The University of Melbourne

Act as if you’re going to uni – wearing your usual uni clothes (and not pyjamas) can help you feel more energetic when engaging online. Also, give your back a rest. We are sitting down much more than usual now, which is harmful to our physical health and gives lower back problems. It’s important to take breaks and walk around the house or backyard.

Hyunju An, South Korea, William Angliss Institute

Try to focus as if you are in the actual classroom, take notes and finish what you learn on the day. It’s easy to be lazy when taking an online course, but make use of it and use the Q&A chats if available.

Güler Arslantaş, Turkey, Deakin University

Online libraries are super helpful. You can reach a lot of resources in various forms such as old newspapers, books, articles, videos and radio shows. Also, Udemy has free online course options for those who are interested in expanding their skill sets. Linkedin Learning is another option. It is already quite popular but Duolingo is useful if there are students who are taking foreign language lessons or for those who are interested in learning a new language.

João Moreira, Brazil, La Trobe University

There seems to be no better way to kickstart your online study than setting up a peaceful and tidy study space. Make sure you organise your study space with everything you need so that you won’t have to stop constantly to get something you need. Your study space should also be distraction-free! Effective study requires your full concentration, so it is vital that you put your phone aside for a moment and forget about social media to avoid distracting yourself.

Yiran Wang, China, The University of Melbourne

First of all, setting up a positive and adaptive mindset is crucial. I do not regard remote learning as a disruption to my study life, but rather a new model of learning that I have yet experienced before. Then, the key step is to establish routines about your study hours that are consistent with previous face-to-face learning expectations to keep the momentum. Following a set schedule will help you be more productive and maintain a healthy rhythm to your week.