Get involved in your own learning
When your studies do not require you to leave the house or meet other students, it is easy to become passive, to log on a few minutes after a session has started, stop taking notes or sleep in instead of attending the optional exercises. But learning is the result of effort. Of course you can read or listen to information, but if you want to learn something in depth, you should use as many senses as possible and get involved in the learning yourself. Here are some tips that are useful even if you study remotely!
Something as simple as turning the camera on during Zoom sessions can make a big difference in how involved you are with the teaching. Try it!
Always give yourself time to get mentally prepared before a teaching session, even if it is pre-recorded. Write down a few things you already know about the subject and think about what you want to know more about. Browse through the literature and guess what you think will be covered. Those who are prepared for a teaching session concentrate better and get more involved.
Formulate questions – for your lecturer, for your classmates, or for your future self. You often learn more from asking your own questions than from responding to the questions of others. Asking a reasonably difficult and interesting question requires you to be on top of a large part of the course material. You should also practice thinking as a lecturer – what are the most important points that need to be understood?
Make smart notes
Just copying long passages from the PowerPoint or underlining them in the course literature does not aid your memory. You activate deep learning when you embed what you hear or read from your own experience and your own critical thinking. The majority of your notes should be your own examples, comparisons, associations and questions. If you do not have time to make detailed notes while listening or reading – do it immediately after the lecture or when you have finished reading a chapter.
There may be an opportunity to have discussions in small groups during a teaching session. If so, take the opportunity! It is better to express yourself and listen to other students’ interpretations than just listening to the lecturer’s version or reading the course literature. If no formal discussion is offered, you can plan discussion sessions with your classmates before or after the class where you can talk about the literature, lectures, exercise or instructions. Share your notes with each other and discuss your different thoughts and ideas. It is easy to talk to people during the breaks when you see each other on campus, but it can be awkward and difficult to have a natural conversation when everyone is listening on Zoom. It is therefore important to find other ways of having more informal discussions.
Play the lecturer role
Make an arrangement with a few classmates to prepare study questions for each other or read different parts of the course literature and present lectures for each other. If you do not know your classmates, invite your family members or friends to a lecture on what you learned that day, or maybe just read it out loud to yourself. Your brain absorbs information better when you speak out loud and even more when someone is listening.
Unleash your creativity
The only thing that will limit how active you are as a student is your own imagination. Record a documentary or start a podcast. Stick mind maps up on the wall, get a whiteboard or make your own PowerPoints. Dance with your essay =). The point is, you are the one that is learning, not your lecturers – they are only there to guide you and create the best possible environment.