Young woman with laptop

During the pandemic, a lot of universities have moved lectures online to keep their staff and students safe. If you’ve found the halt of face-to-face teaching difficult – whether that’s regulating your own timetable, or getting the most out of virtual seminars – read our six top tips to help you do so. This advice is generalised for all students, but be sure to check your uni’s specific guidelines and updates through emails and online portals.

1. Set Up a Dedicated Workspace

The transition from campus to home learning can be challenging, but by having a dedicated workspace, you’ll find it easier to keep focused. A desk and comfortable chair are the obvious solution, but if you don’t have this arrangement, not to worry – any clear surface like a table with space for your computer and books will suffice. Keep this area clean and tidy, and organise your study items so that everything is at close hand. If you need a temporary reprieve from home learning, some universities have kept their libraries open for socially distanced study – just keep an eye on the latest government guidelines, as these can change regularly.

2. Get the Right Study Equipment

A reasonably functioning computer and internet connection are key for online learning. If you don’t already have these, get in touch with student services for some additional support, as they may have spare laptops to loan. Don’t underestimate the power of stationery either – a range of markers, pens, and pads can make the note-taking process much easier (and more fun!) Also, check the reading lists put together by your lecturers, and if you can’t access what you need in digital form, the library will likely have hard copies you can borrow. If you need further online study tools, there should be a university department that can help.

3. Prepare and Take Notes

Though not quite the same experience, listening to an online lecture provides the same content you would receive at the theatre. Prepare yourself by knowing exactly when the lectures take place, swat up on the reading beforehand, and make sure your study station will be quiet at these times (if possible). Take notes as you would in-person, keep distractions like TV and housemate activities at a minimum, and ask the lecturer questions if you’re unsure about anything – and make sure you’re clear on post-lecture assignments.

Zoom conference call

4. Keep in Touch with Coursemates

Student life is designed to be social and collaborative, and though Covid has hindered this, you can still keep up with coursemates from afar. Free tools like WhatsApp, Zoom, and Skype allow you to set up group chats (by text or video) and give you fantastic opportunities to share study ideas, discuss tips, and hear different perspectives. This will help you avoid feeling too isolated, and at the end of your session, why not reward yourselves with virtual cuppas and catch-ups?

5. Communicate with Uni Staff

You might not be seeing your lecturers, tutors, or seminar leaders in-person, but you should still communicate with them regularly, whether that’s via email or phone. If you’re feeling particularly anxious, a problem shared is a problem halved, and staff are there to help and support you. Most universities also have online portals where staff/students can chat on discussion boards, get access to lecture slides (or sometimes recordings), and read further study material. By regularly monitoring these platforms, you’ll make your online learning experience less lonely, stressful, and daunting – and read about experiences from the rest of your cohort.

6. Plan Study Breaks

With the increase of home learning, boundaries between work and leisure have become much more blurred – making regular study breaks even more important. Resting your mind maintains its productivity in the long run, helps avoid that dreaded burnout, and keeps your mood positive. Identify what brings you joy, whether that’s reading the latest thriller, watching the newest sitcom, or playing your favourite video game. Do your best to incorporate exercise as well, even if just a short stroll to get some fresh air out of the house. And, make sure you have a set endpoint for studying each day, to allow your brain to switch off properly.


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