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As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, schools around the globe are shifting to online learning in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Adapting and delivering distance learning to students at this scale has never been attempted before. Then again, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.

The UAE has now entered the first week of students, both at school and at university level, starting programs through distance learning. Learning from home can be a daunting experience for those who have only ever studied in a classroom environment.

Here are a few handy tips for students to ensure efficient learning during this period.

Make your own classroom

Clear out a space that’s demarcated specifically for studying. Make sure your computers and laptops are cleaned and sanitized regularly. Arrange your books and notes to ensure you have everything you need. Make it personal by adding colour, a plant, or something to break the monotony.

Create an action plan

Plan your day-to-day activities around your studies. Commit to spending at least 30 to 45 minutes per day going through your course material prior to your class to ensure there is complete clarity in what is being taught.

Plot your assignments and classes on a handy calendar

Once you receive your course material and class schedule, mark all your assignment deadlines on a calendar. Stick the calendar in a place where you can see it clearly and refer to it regularly. It’s important to have a clear overview of your timetable, workload and due dates for the full duration of your course.

Get a study buddy

Distance learning can be lonely at times, so why not coordinate your schedule for assignments with a sibling or a parent working from home? This will also allow you to bond with your family while ensuring you stick to your deadline. Alternatively, you can also get an online buddy – this will also ensure you both stick to schedules.

Say it out loud!

This might seem strange but actually hearing yourself saying the concepts you’ve been studying out loud will keep all the facts safely stored in your mind. If you find it a bit strange to talk to yourself, get an audience by asking a family member to listen — you can even read your content out loud to your pets!

Take breaks after classes

Distance learning can be as intense as traditional learning. Make sure you take short breaks between virtual classes in order to maximize your learning experience. Taking a ten-minute power nap or a short study break are proven ways to be more productive.

Remember to ask for help

It’s perfectly acceptable to speak up and ask for clarification if something is not clear to you. Contact your tutors if you have any questions about your course work. If you find yourself struggling – ask for help. That’s what teachers are there for – to help and guide you through your studies. You can always schedule a one-on-one consultation with your tutor. This also ensures constant engagement for both the tutor and the student.

It is important to know that online learning is not solely digital curriculum alone but is a combination of carefully curated online learning experiences, coaching and assessment, facilitated by technology platforms.

By: Andy Philips, Chief Operating Officer at University of Wollongong in Dubai