Distance learning: five tips how to make it more productive
Distance learning: five tips how to make it more productive

Students are learning online now: lessons by videoconference, sending tasks by e-mail, chatting with teachers. For many of them it is not easy because of unusual format. Russia’s National Research Nuclear University MEPhI gave some advice to students who switched to distance learning.

Due to the difficult epidemiological situation, many universities have the right to switch to a distance education mode. This is a typical practice in all countries of the world. It helps to reduce the number of cases of infection.

To switch to study mode using distance technologies it is quite easy for humanitarian universities, but for “technical’ universities is difficult to do it without full-time laboratory work. In most cases, in order to maintain the quality of the educational process, the logic of the curriculum has already changed. Laboratory, practice and similar work will be transferred to the end of the semester or to the next semester. Of course, there are other difficulties: software, changing the format of the materials, and so on.

Not only universities and organizations, but also students themselves have difficulties. Most of the difficulties are based on false stereotypes. How to deal with them?

Difficulty No. 1. Distance education is not a freebie

Unfortunately, distance education is much harder for a student than full-time format. It is difficult to maintain motivation in isolation from the usual study group, without eye contact and university disciplining atmosphere. Moreover, classes from home create a false sense of “simplicity”, especially if you try to attend them in lying position.

This means that any student needs to make more efforts to achieve the effectiveness of the educational process by overcoming a cozy home atmosphere.

Firstly, I advise you to observe your daily routine. Secondly, I don’t advise (excuse me) to study remotely in home clothes: on the one hand, the teacher and classmates see you, and on the other, following standard routine forces the body to “tune in” to the essence of the process. And I also advice you sitting at the table. Thirdly, do not interrupt your classes by watching TV shows, films or playing any computer games.

It is necessary to take the listening material more seriously. Good discipline is the key to successful distance learning even more than successful full-time study. This is confirmed by many studies.

Difficulty No. 2. The video material is poorly remembered

It is necessary to record material (especially lectures), even if you usually do not do this. The traditional perception of the video material is tightly connected with the perception of TV series or films, which basically do not require effort to perception and concentrate. Formulas do not become clearer regardless of whether they are written on a blackboard or in a video.

Difficulty No. 3. Teacher does not get a feel for audience

Many teachers at universities haven’t had any distance learning experience. It means that they do not understand how to maintain the attention of the audience in such situation. They cannot see the reaction of students. Distance learning is not just an online course.

To support the teacher and better understand the material – ask questions immediately as they arise. Moreover, do not be afraid to ask them even in larger quantities than usual. Using them the teacher can quickly adjust the material. Type the answers in the chat if the teacher does not have time to enter them himself.

In this aspect, the quality of the educational process literally depends on you, as a student. Ask questions before and after a lecture or seminar. Without feedback, the process will fall apart.

Difficulty No. 4. Online format requires self-training

Self-training is a necessary element of distance learning. The teacher have not enough time to tell you many materials, even if he really wants to. Extra classes are hard to attend especially if you went home and you had a difference in time zones.

I do not advise you to go home if you live further than in three time zones + from the university. For example, from Moscow to Barnaul. Evening lessons will end for you in the middle of the night.

Take care of your knowledge gaps by yourself. Remember that distance learning is more difficult than full-time study, which means that you need to put more effort into the result. Online courses and practice in completing tasks are necessary elements of distance learning. By the way, do not forget to keep in touch with your group.

Difficulty No. 5. Students want to walk, not study, or want just study

Obviously, distance learning saves time. You have at least two free hours, that you do not spend on the road to the university. The number of lessons at many universities will decrease, for example due to the lack of physical education. People want to spend this free time on walks or rest.

Not worth it. It reduces discipline. Better try taking one of the online courses that are now available for free. Try to focus on humanitarian and computer science courses because they have developed effective skill testing systems.

Time of switching to distance learning is a great way to pull up weak skills. But to learn something new is also quite possible. The choice is very wide.

No need to take ten online courses at once. You simply do not have enough time to study, you will fail the basic courses. One or two courses maximum. Choose wisely!

The conclusion is very simple — do not relax. It seems like a huge amount of free time in the middle of academic semester, but if you relax, then in the end it will only get worse. The current period is a chance for each student to get a unique competitive advantage in the future in the labor market.It is a real opportunity to build an individual trajectory.

Use this time, but carefully.