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Studying online: 5 steps to success

For anyone new to studying online, it can take a little time to adjust to. With no lectures or classes to physically attend, a lot more depends on your ability to mentally prioritise and take charge of your study.

As a starting point, it can help to gain some insights from those who have already mastered this whole e-learning business.

Alex Reeman-Clark, General Manager, Student Experience at Kaplan Business School, who studied and graduated from his MBA online at KBS, says there’s no real trick to it, but organisation is key.

Let’s take a dive into his top 5 tips for studying online effectively:

1. Make your study planner your new best friend.

It’s important to gain clear knowledge of what is expected of you at each point of time over the trimester, including any key dates and deadlines.

A little admin work upfront will pay dividends down the track when you’re deep in assignment mode.

Firstly, you need to decide on your choice of study calendar. Using Outlook or Google calendars is a popular choice, but there are also some handy apps out there such as Fantastical (iOS) and CloudCal (Android) that can help you get organised with some added functionality.

Next, add to your calendar:

  • All of your assessment deadlines, colour-coded for each subject.
  • Zoom links for your online lectures and workshops.
  • Any important dates from your academic calendar – this can include online orientation, webinars, etc.

2. Download everything you need upfront.

The keyword here is upfront. Create a folder for each of your subjects at the start of each trimester.

Within these folders create three subfolders:

  • Assessment briefs.
  • Lecture slides – it helps to print these out ahead of lectures to make notes.
  • Content – used to save journal articles, textbook chapters, videos, quizzes and any other documents related to that subject.

It’s also handy to create a general folder for documents such as Harvard referencing guide.

Have everything ready and accessible before you start your subject. You’ll thank yourself later.

3. Watch the workshops. Sometimes twice.

This may seem obvious, but it’s all about HOW you watch the workshops.

It’s important to:

  • Interact – try to join workshops live whenever you can.
  • Watch it back – even if you can’t join live, make sure you take the time to watch it at a later date.
  • Watch it again – sometimes watching it again in the frame of how this information can be applied to a specific assessment can be really valuable. You’ll likely pick up on information you didn’t the first time around.
working from home

4. Ask virtual questions.

Ultimately it’s up to you to determine the outcome and direction of your education. By interacting and asking questions, you’re going to get much more out of your online experience.

The best places to ask questions include:

  • Live workshops – this is a great opportunity to ask ‘face-to-face’ questions because it allows for livelier interactions and gives you a chance to ask any follow-up questions you might have.
  • Subject forums – questions can be answered by other students, not just lecturers, which can significantly add to your learning experience.
  • Student Experience (via Live Zoom Link, phone or email) – your institute’s support team is there to help you with a variety of questions and issues, not just the academic ones.
women laughing sitting at desk

5. Get a head start. Start strong.

The first few weeks of a trimester are easier in terms of assignments and workloads. So getting a head start on your first assessment sets the standard for the rest of the trimester. It also signifies to your lecturer, your capacity to product quality work and willingness to try.

You can also get an early start by:

  • Creating assignment templates – writing two or three thousand words for an assessment can be a little daunting. It helps to prepare a document template for each assignment at the beginning of each subject. Name it appropriately, create the cover page and all the formatting necessary and put it in your ‘documents’ folder (created in point two). You’ll be surprised at how having the document ready to go can give you breathing room and is a great starting point to dive-in.
  • Focus on one section at a time – rather than leaving the bulk of the assignment to the last minute, get an early start on it by breaking it up into easily executable tasks. For example, you could give yourself half an hour for the introduction in an essay and then a short break.
Find out more about studying online at KBS and the support services you will have access to as part of our online community. You can also learn more about studying business in Australia.