Online Education – Tips for studying online in times of COVID-19

The pandemic of COVID-19 has more than 90% of the world’s students from 188 countries confined to their homes and without face-to-face classes, according to the latest UNESCO 2021.

In this context, universities and educational and training centers provide their training through digital media or are trying, so that students with or without previous experience in online training will be immersed in non-face-to-face classes. Studying online provides benefits for the student, such as flexible hours and the possibility of improving their digital and personal skills, among others. But it also comes with challenges, such as self-discipline, self-organization, and time planning, as well as exercising autonomy and self-learning.

Likewise, it must be taken into account that online education, especially in the face of coronavirus confinement, can generate inequality of opportunities if technical resources are not guaranteed so that both students and teachers can carry it out. Experts in online education share with Edu caweb some tips to help students take advantage of studying online. These recommendations address technical and mainly pedagogical and skills aspects.

9 Recommendations To Take Advantage Of Online Training

Here are tips from education experts to get the most out of online training …

Trust online education

The most important thing to take advantage of online training is to believe in it, says Albert Sangrà, professor in the Studies of Psychology and Educational Sciences at the UOC and lecturer in the cycle of online seminars Non-face-to-face emergency teaching, which the UOC has offered since this April 8. You should not start studying online with an attitude in which you think that this is not going to work or that it is second-rate.

And it is that this modality of studies is as valuable and quality as the face-to-face experts say. “The approach of teachers in online education is serious, based on studies, and whose objective is that students get the most out of it,” adds Sangrà.

Have the necessary computing and connectivity resources

Having a device that has the necessary characteristics to carry out online training activities is key to being able to study through this modality. Lucía Núñez pedagogue proposes using a computer, “since it is usually more powerful and versatile than a tablet or mobile phone”. It is also essential to have a good Internet connection “and to have a data network that facilitates interaction with teachers and students,” recommends Sangrá.

However, if the computer equipment is missing to be able to study online, smartphones are an alternative. Although it would have to be “their own mobile, or that is not the one their parents use to telecommute,” he says.Pere Marqués, director of the DIM-EDU network – Didactics, Innovation, Multimedia.
It is also essential that ” the administrations and/or the educational and training centers themselves make up for these deficiencies in some cases,” says Miquel Àngel Prats, Professor of Educational Technology at Blanquerna- Ramon Llull University.

Experts also warn that technical problems, such as the lack of a computer with the necessary programs to study online or a poor Internet connection, pose a problem when training online. “There can be countless cases that hinder the course of learning, such as the incompatibility of operating systems, network failures, or program blockages. All this can generate demotivation in students,” adds Núñez.

This is why online platforms are required that are easily accessible from different devices. Those students have direct contact with the teacher of reference or with the technical support team to solve possible technical obstacles.

Have digital skills for study or willingness to acquire them

Having digital skills or being willing to acquire them facilitates the use of online training platforms used by training centers, according to experts. And it is that “a good knowledge of the virtual platform of the center or the university that imparts the online education is very important,” says Manuel Martínez, president of IMF Business School, who also recommends familiarizing yourself with it before starting. for easier use.

However, the director of the DIM network, Pere Marqués, points out that students in general lack “experience in the use of digital devices to carry out training tasks” And also to organize the time because in the face-to-face classes everything is organized. For this reason, it is necessary that the teachers” give guidance to the students and monitor not only the tasks but also their state of encouragement “, he adds.

Likewise, the experts believe that the youngest students believe that they have solved the issue online because they know how to act in this environment with ease, but it is a mistake to consider it that way, says the professor of the Studies of Psychology and Sciences of the UOC Education.

“Students know how to handle themselves in an online environment to communicate with their family or friends, but not to be able to be successful when it comes to wanting to learn or having to study online, What are they two different functions of using digital environments “, explains the professor. For this reason, he recommends students not to trust themselves, because studying online is not the same as knowing how to handle in digital environments.

Be aware that studying online requires an added effort

To take advantage of online education, it is important to know that learning under this modality requires an added effort, so it is necessary to be disciplined, constant, and autonomous, as well as responsible.

“It is the student who has the power and freedom to plan and mark study schedules. In addition, online training is usually more demanding than the face-to-face or blended modality. It requires an organization and planning that perhaps in other modalities may not be so important, “says Martínez, president of IMF Business School.

“Studying online means being aware that I have to develop my own work plan, that I have to organize myself, be self-demanding with myself, and that therefore the results and success will come to me if I am able to maintain these elements “, says the UOC professor, Sangrà.

Choose the best place to study

Experts agree that it is important to choose the most suitable place available to study online. Being free from noise and distractions, and having good lighting, can help improve concentration.

“If there are already distractions inside a conventional classroom, they are accentuated outside of it. Therefore, it is advisable to take some strategies to avoid possible disturbances,” explains educator Lucía Núñez. Some of these tactics are “to put the mobile in silence or out of the place where you are going to study, close the browser tabs that are not related to the activity itself or study in an environment without noise and, if possible, away from others people”.

Likewise, it is important to have “a conducive and facilitating environment,” adds Prats, referring not only to a physical space but also to the family or social environment that one lives at home. “The family and home environment should encourage online study to be able to monitor the activities carried out and take advantage of it,” he explains.

Get organized: plan, set daily goals, and follow up on them

Self-organization is the key to taking advantage of online training. This means planning what will be done each day, setting daily goals, and following up on them, according to the experts consulted.

“To study at a distance it is important to establish a weekly work plan within a fixed schedule. For this, it is necessary to take into account the schedule of the subject, the necessary materials, and scheduled online classes, among other aspects,” says Núñez.

Once you have defined the planning and schedule to study, you have to prioritize daily activities. It may be useful to create a list of the work to be delivered or the activities to be carried out, and thus avoid pending. “In this task, it is advisable to set very specific and achievable objectives in the short term, that is, that they are as realistic as possible according to the circumstances of each student,” adds Núñez.

Some students may lack capacities related to autonomy, managing emotions, and working towards a specific goal, which “may have negative implications on learning outcomes”, points out Núñez, a pedagogue at Edu caweb. In these cases, it recommends to the students prior planning of the objectives they want to achieve and avoid distractions during the study, such as the continuous consultation of social networks.

When planning the study, it should also be borne in mind that the confinement situation due to COVID-19 causes the rhythms of the day to be not the same as in normal circumstances, so an order should also be established in this regard, advises Prats. “At the moment we are losing the regulation of the rhythms of the day, and it is important to resume them, especially when studying online.”

Also, plan breaks

Likewise, it is essential to plan the breaks that will be made during the study time, since the brain can only concentrate for a limited period of time, adds the pedagogue. There are time management methods, such as the Pomodoro technique, that try to divide time into activity and rest intervals. This will increase productivity.

Interact with teachers and classmates

Online Education

One of the main challenges of online training is to face the absence of face-to-face contact not only with teachers, but also with classmates, and avoid feeling alone when faced with the challenge of learning online. Therefore, experts recommend making use of digital tools that allow frequent interaction with the group and the teaching staff.

It is also important not to be afraid to ask the teacher any doubts that arise. For this reason, students should “regularly interact with their professors, participate in the meetings planned, but also communicate with them on their own”, explains the UOC professor.

And is that ” the resolution of doubts allows to continue advancing”, indicates Núñez.” To make it possible, you must acquire a habit of communicating with the teacher of the subject, without forgetting your colleagues and the resources offered by the network.  As part of the online training, They often carry out videoconferences and different online activities, which should be taken advantage of by actively participating.

It is also essential to ” organize groups to exchange experiences, debate or resolve doubts. It can be through forums on the subject’s own website, groups through communication tools for chats and calls, and even collective video calls.

Don’t forget to manage your emotions and share them

The student may feel alone in online education because they do not have face-to-face contact with the teachers, as well as with the rest of the students. That the feeling of loneliness, especially in the confinement circumstances that are currently experienced by COVID-19. The greatest difficulties because the human being is social par excellence,” says Martínez, president of IMF Business School.

“The absence of direct contact with teachers and students can cause a feeling of loneliness and isolation. This also causes the training to be, on many occasions, impersonal”, adds the manager.

The role of the teaching staff is key in these cases, since the student may require extra support to be able to take better advantage of online education. “As far as possible, follow-up and personalized attention to the student’s learning should be provided, including feedback processes during the course,” says Núñez.

In online education in times of coronavirus, it is also important to manage emotions and share them online with teachers and the rest of the classmates, says Prats. And it is that beyond the knowledge that can be learned through online education, “it is good to meet others, share emotions and think about what we are going to do when this situation ends.

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