Currently, most students are engaged in distance learning because of the COVID19 pandemic. Unfortunately, distance sets additional challenges to the education process and makes it more difficult to gain new knowledge and develop skills. Students often struggle with poor time-management, a lot of distractions and procrastination. To succeed in study, they need to change their approach to learning in a certain way.
Some more difficulties arise when there are too many tasks to complete with tight deadlines. In this case, students can seek assistance from their peers and professional services. It may be helpful for them to order an assignment and to check samples of some more informative essays on education or other topics. Getting help in the learning process can make you more productive and relieve stress related to studying.
Don’t get discouraged by the difficulties that you face while studying on your own. Distance education can be effective if you know how to do it in a proper way. For sure, it’s possible to make remote learning productive if you follow the tips below.
Apply retrieval practice
Luckily, in distance courses, students usually have access to all the materials that must be remembered. This way, you can add retrieval practice to your learning process to make it more efficient. To memorise information, try to bring it to mind from memory to pull your knowledge “out” and examine what you know. Deliberately recalling information improves learning to a better extent than just looking up the answer in a book. There are many ways to do it, such as the following:
- making your own practice tests that you can share with a mate to ask and answer questions to each other;
- creating flashcards with questions on one side and answers on the reverse;
- use a cover-and-check technique by simply covering your lectures, recalling the information there, and then uncovering to check.
This practice helps to boost memory and enhance learning, so if you apply it, your academic results won’t get lower during distance studying.
Find particular examples
Some applied information is much easier to remember than abstract facts, so detailed examples foster learning. You’ve probably noticed that various examples of the same idea help you to understand the deep meaning of the information that was supposed to be illustrated. Using concrete examples can enhance memorising and increase learning productivity as it helps to realise the underlying abstract ideas.
Don’t neglect elaboration
Elaboration is a cognitive learning strategy that involves asking “how” and “why” questions about a certain topic, and then giving the answers to those questions. It helps to describe or explain the way things work in order to better understand and remember them. Besides, elaboration is aimed at clarifying or specifying the relation between the information to-be-learned and previous knowledge or experience of a student. You can find the relationship between a new piece of information and your own life, or just compare two topics with each other. It can be done by finding some similar details, examples, analogies, differences, etc. In its essence, this technique means encoding the information in a visual or verbal way. For instance, to remember a foreign word, you can create a visual image of it or make a sentence with it. Elaboration strengthens your understanding and retention of the information that you need to learn.
Use spacing effect
The spacing effect is a psychological phenomenon which means that we can recall information better if we learn it in multiple, spread-out sessions. With the help of spaced repetition, you can learn almost anything you need from art styles to mathematical formulas. It works if you study for 30 minutes every day instead of 3 hours in one day. Repetition of the information should be properly spaced by increasing the time intervals between learning sessions which reinforces the neural connections. Although it’s difficult to be self-disciplined while studying remotely, you should try to create a schedule of study sessions for each day and stick to it. It’s proven to be more efficient than if you try to remember the material in one single burst. As distance learning allows you to move through study at your own pace, you have a great opportunity to check the advantages of spaced repetition and maximise information retention. Some students say that using this method, information lasts a lifetime.
Interleaving means the switch between different ideas while you study. Some researches suggest that studying one idea or topic for too long is not effective. It’s more helpful to change them up, though it seems harder. It’s believed that this strategy is more productive in the long run because it helps you to see the links and types of relationships between different subjects which, therefore, strengthens your understanding. But don’t switch between ideas too often, first, you must be sure that you’ve grasped some basics of them. Most importantly, your interleaving shouldn’t become ‘multi-tasking’.
The most essential meta-skill for any type of education, including distance one, is ‘how to learn’. If you try to apply the tips given above, you will not waste your precious time on inefficient remote learning but will make the most out of distance studying. You shouldn’t spend hours trying to memorise facts, names, dates, and so on. Instead, use techniques of productive learning, such as retrieval practice, elaboration, finding examples, spaced repetition, and interleaving. These strategies are very powerful tools that boost your knowledge in any form of education.
Robert Everett is a tutor who works mainly with high-school students. He is also engaged in developing workshops that are aimed at developing learning skills. Moreover, he helps college students with writing essays, assignments, and coursework.