From setting up a conducive environment for home-based learning (HBL) to maintaining continual assessment scores, many students, especially the undergraduates, must quickly overcome the hurdles of the digitalisation of education without affecting their yearly assessment. With this in mind, we have put together a list of suggestions that may help these students get used to remote learning more effectively.
Create a Comfortable & Effective Learning Environment
Before students can adapt to the new form of learning, it is essential that they have the tools they need to complete their assignments. For instance, creating an environment conducive to learning is an important part of adapting to remote education. That is not to say that every student needs a high-end laptop for online learning; but having an up-to-date device can prevent hiccups when loading software for online coursework or accessing online resources. Additionally, ensuring a stable internet connection is essential for online learning these days. If you're finding that your internet speeds are not fast enough, it is worth troubleshooting by contacting your broadband provider or upgrading your plan if you require faster download speeds. For reference, it typically costs about S$15 to double your speed.
Finally, dedicating quiet hours at home can minimise unnecessary interruptions and improve the quality of remote learning. In addition to having the devices and internet connection to get work done, research suggests that creating the right ambience is also an important factor when it comes to facilitating or impeding home-based learning.
Maintain a Schedule & Submit Assignments On-Time
The untimely lockdown of schools has driven local universities such as Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore Management University (SMU) to do away with in-person exams and redirect student assessment to existing continual assessment scores or online exams. This new practice means that students need to be extra vigilant during their day-to-day performance, quality of their assignments and ability to keep up with the curriculum, despite the lack of in-class activities. To ensure that students can keep up with their curriculum, it can be helpful to set a daily schedule. Additionally, setting measurable goals can be helpful to keep students engaged and driven. For example, creating a schedule for participating in online lectures, forums, discussions, revision and breaks can help students to keep up their momentum.
Keep Mobile Phone Away
No matter where we are, it is easy to be distracted by our mobile phones. These devices can be even more disruptive in a home-based environment where there is a lack of structure and supervision. Besides being a distraction, studies have shown that academic performance is significantly reduced when mobile phones are within reach. The mere presence of the mobile device, even if it is switched off, can still impair cognitive function. The study found that participants performed best when their phones were kept in another room altogether. To get the most out of HBL, students should consider setting some ground rules for mobile phone usage and store their devices in another room while they are working.
Prepare for Online Exams
Universities in Singapore and across the world Singapore have quickly transitioned to online exams. Even exams like the Advanced Placement (AP) college placement exam, the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) and the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) have been moved online to ensure that students are able to complete their assessments.
As different campuses are deciding how to proctor online exams, students should pay special attention to the format of the exam so that they will not be caught with technical issues. Also, students should not assume that online exams have less stringent guidelines for plagiarism or cheating because universities are deploying online tools like plagiarism checkers, IP tracking and curriculum designed to keep students from cheating. Additionally, many organisations have implemented procedures and tools for their online tests to prevent students from accessing information online or from leaving the exam platform before it is completed.
Stay Connected: Online Forums & Contact Lecturers
Students should also do their best to stay connected with other students and their teachers. For instance, participating in online forums is a great way to excel in HBL. Since students are restricted from gathering for discussions, participating in online forums is a great way to share ideas and address questions.In some cases, active participation on such platforms can also account for class participation, which can benefit students' continual assessment scores too. Additionally, students should take a proactive approach to staying in touch with lecturers. This is especially important when students are not grasping certain concepts or are unclear about the expectations of an assignment.
Take Healthy Breaks
At many universities around the world, educators are advising students, who are learning remotely, to take periodic breaks in order to maintain good mental health. Because remote learning can be a lonely affair, with reduced social interaction, the need to keep students healthy and engaged is of paramount importance. Besides getting adequate rest, nutrition and exercise, students should acknowledge their achievements and motivate themselves towards completing their assignments on time.
Make the Most of the Experience
Getting started with home-based learning may take a bit of effort, since most students are more familiar with in-class learning. However, online learning appears to be here to stay, whether as part of blended learning or full-fledged online education, so why not take this time to get ahead? If students can keep an open mind and embrace this experience with a long-term perspective, they can stand to gain from this period of remote learning.