Tips for successful learning
Studying takes time, patience, and discipline. If you haven’t studied for a while, getting back into the habit can be challenging. Use these tips to help you get started and feel prepared for your journey ahead.
Did you know your brain only retains 47% of information after 20 minutes of study? We’ve put together some tips below to help you retain as much of your online study as possible.
- Space your practice out over time
Don’t try to cram all your study into one session. Break it up over time leaving a few days or even a week or two between revision. This works because your memory gets overloaded when dealing with too much new information at once.
- Try not to look at your notes
When revising content, try to explain your ideas to yourself or someone else without referring to your notes or the learning material. You can also try writing things in your own words, or drawing a diagram. If you can’t explain it without referring to your notes, you haven’t yet learned the content well enough.
- Question yourself
Ask yourself questions about the content, as you are studying. Why does this work the way it does? How is it connected to this other process? When would I use this in the workplace? These will help you see the bigger picture and help you understand how everything fits together.
- Switch between ideas
Don’t stay studying on one topic for too long. Mix up the order of your study so you spend a little bit of time on each subject, and then come back again and try studying in a different order. See if you can make links between related study areas.
- Use examples to help you learn
Try to find good examples of each topic that illustrate the ideas and concepts presented in your course. See if the examples follow any rules or procedures that can be applied to other situations. Think about how the examples are similar or different and how they are linked to the main concepts you are studying.
- Combine words with visuals
Try writing an explanation of a picture in your course, and also try drawing a concept from the words in your notes. Then, combine both words and pictures in a way that you think will quickly show the concepts in a clear and succinct way. Try doing this first by referring to class content, but then try drawing from memory without referring to your notes.
- Try different learning approaches
Typical study approaches include reading and writing, however, you can approach learning from different angles to help you tackle difficult topics. You could try:
- Listening to a podcast while you go for a walk
- Watching a video or demonstration that explains the topic
- Create your own mind maps or flash cards with words and pictures
- Imagining the steps that you need to go through to complete a practical task
- Role play a situation that has been introduced in class
- Create resources that would help other students, for example a website portfolio of tips, or a video demonstrating particular skills
- Plan your note taking
Make sure you understand what your study goals are before you start reading or watching your learning materials. This will help you make notes about the key points only, too many notes can lead to information overload.
- Take a note-taking approach that allows you to keep up with the lesson
If you're not practiced at handling multiple devices, note-taking using phone, tablet or another application on your desktop can get confusing. Try using pen and paper next to your device if this happens to you. If you are watching video, pause the video every few minutes to make a brief summary.
- Compile your notes
Take notes while you are reviewing your reading materials as well as any online resources, then at the end of the day review all your notes to link ideas and concepts together.
- Get creative with your notes
Opt for diagrams and pictures, if you have a hard time finding the right words when taking notes. Drawing diagrams, brain storming, bullet points and pictures are a great way to get ideas down on paper.
Time management is one of the most important things to master when you are studying. Keeping your learning on track and not missing assessment submission dates is your responsibility. The tips below can help you.
- Set aside time for learning
Plan your study regime – setting aside regular times to study. Short bursts of study may be a solution – where you set aside 30 minutes to complete reading or watching a video and then taking notes. Study in these types of short bursts can work well if you dedicate enough time over the week to complete all tasks and activities. Let your friends and family know your schedule so they don’t interrupt you.
- Create a schedule for deadlines
At the beginning of your course, use your calendar to add assessment deadlines, important due dates and other key events. Having this schedule mapped out will help you find times when your study load may be heavy and when assessments are due. This will help you plan your study weeks in advance and reduce the risk of missing assessment deadlines and submissions. All assessment due dates are listed on the delivery and assessment plan (DAP).
- Don’t get distracted
Make sure there are no distractions, if you are listening to a video tutorial make sure there is no background music or noise that will make it hard for you to hear or concentrate on what your lecturer is talking about. Find a quiet place to study at home or head to a nearby library to stay focused and on task. Don’t study next to the TV.
- Key contacts and information
Collect the phone numbers, email addresses and other contact details in one place. You could even add these to your phone. If you have a technical issue, or need to contact your lecturer or the college, having these details easily accessible means you won’t have to go hunting to find this information.
- Set a timer
Consider using the Pomodoro technique to help you study – 25 minutes of study on one topic, with a short 3 – 5 minute break. After 4 rounds, take a longer 15 – 30 minute break. Buy a cheap kitchen timer and stick to it.
- Give yourself a break
Don’t forget to take breaks and do things you enjoy – go for a walk, talk to a friend, meditate, exercise, grab a coffee. Aim for something active if possible – it will help your memory and keep you sharp for studying.