Whether you are entering into your first year of GCSE’s or are doing some additional research for your undergraduate dissertation, study resources are vital to maximising your grade potential. But with the advent of the internet and computing power increasing ten-fold each year, it can be increasingly difficult to know where to look, to find the perfect, tailored study support.
The offerings for study support are only going to increase as we delve deeper into the Mark Zuckerburg controlled metaverse. However, now seems like a good opportunity, with mock exams coming up and the first round of university exams coming to a head, to explore the best learning resources and online study support available to you in this universe.
Before we get to those all-important resources, there are a couple of things we thought we would share for those new to online learning. A few best practices and tips to ensure you are well equipped to take on the information provided.
Reliable internet access.
If you were to ask someone to name one benefit and one negative to the increase of technology in our lives, I guarantee that over 50% will provide you with the same negative. Unreliability. With such a vast network at our fingertips, it is only natural to experience glitches or crashes that appear beyond our control. But there are a few ways we can protect ourselves, to reduce the likelihood of these problematic errors hampering our experience.
You will have heard all of these at some point in your life and there is a reason why people keep hammering on about them, because they make a difference, so take heed and implement them. I dare you.
Dongles are taking over, the last few years have seen manufacturers of laptops, tablets and phones doing everything in their power to create as much inconvenience as possible for the consumer and boost their profit margins through accessories. It sucks. I point blank refuse to upgrade my phone unless I have a headphone jack out of principle, despite owning Bluetooth headphones. While this may seem completely trivial, it actually has a massive impact on the stability and reliability of the connection between your devices and the internet.
The more wireless devices you have connected, the more noise there is around your connection. This noise interrupts signals briefly, ultimately causing connection dropouts.
To avoid this, try and minimise the number of wireless devices or connections you have. To connect to the internet, try and use an ethernet cable instead of wifi. When using headphones, attempt to use a 3.5mm jack instead of Bluetooth. You will see a marked improvement, trust me.
Mishaps can happen, so it is important to continuously save your work and back it up to a cloud service and locally. You don’t want to find yourself in a position where you spill coffee on your laptop at 3 in the morning which completely fries the only version of your coursework. It has happened to me and I promise you, it was not an enjoyable experience. I wouldn’t even wish that on Lord Voldemort or Darth Vader.
Investing in a separate hard drive and a cloud storage solution like dropbox or google drive is a brilliant insurance option that can allow you to access all of your work across multiple devices.
Understand online learning practices and expectations.
Just because you are learning from an online course or through online resources doesn’t mean that it is an easier way to learn than traditional methods. The same rules still apply. Dedicate the correct amount of time, consistently attend the course or use the materials available, maintain concentration during learning hours and commit yourself fully to the process.
Just because you are at home, doesn’t mean you should take part in seminars in your underwear. Learning is a state of mind, so don’t put yourself at a disadvantage.
Park yourself in a dedicated study space.
There is much contention over whether it is beneficial for us to be so rigid when creating boundaries between our work and social lives. David Burkus from Harvard Business Review wrote an entire article on why keeping work and life separate is more trouble than it’s worth. I love to sit on the fence and will make no exception here. I can see both sides of the coin with regard to separating work and social life. However, an important distinction needs to be made between work and social life, then work and health.
You should not be conducting active work in an environment like your bed. Being alert and switched on in a place of rest will upset your circadian rhythm, leading to lethargy and increasing stress levels. Even working at a desk in your bedroom will help the body to differentiate between work and rest areas.
Plan. Plan. Plan.
Planning what you are going to do is becoming a staple of modern life and for good reason. It helps you to be concise, time-efficient and maintain motivation levels. There aren’t a whole lot of downsides to creating a pan, even a quick one.
There are a few ways that you can facilitate planning for your online studies. Organising your tasks into a calendar will help you to avoid the stress of unexpected deadlines. Short to-do lists will boost your daily productivity as you tick off each task. Applying time limits to certain tasks will help keep you focused and reduce procrastination.
Breaks. Breaks. Breaks.
Have you ever tried to run for 8 hours straight? Even the Flash needs to take a break and you are no different when it comes to studying. Taking regular breaks is important to maintaining a positive outlook, keeping motivation high and reducing tired feelings
This one is easier said than done. Motivation is difficult to control, but not impossible. You can check out one of our latest blogs on time management techniques that gives a great insight into effective ways to manage your time and keep your motivation levels in tip-top shape.
A great place to start is to analyse whether the motivation you have been experiencing has been based on a positive outcome or a negative. Are you excited to see the result of your hard work or terrified of what will happen if you don’t put the work in? Once you have determined this, it will become easier to evaluate the type of motivational goals to set yourself to keep on track.
Review, revise, repeat.
Our memory system is divided into two marvellously complex sections. Short term and long term. Our short term memory is used to store sounds, words and images. It allows for short, sharp computations and acts as a filter for information that could leak into our long term memory. It is this long term memory that allows us to store information based upon importance and meaning for an extended period of time, it is what shapes our opinions and knowledge base.
Continuously reviewing the work you have done, revising it and committing it to your memory via repetition is a solid foundation to grow your knowledge banks around a particular topic. As this can be an incredibly tedious and repetitive process, it is good to keep it fresh. Consider having a few study partners or working in groups via a conference call as one of the best ways to learn and commit information to memory is by teaching others.
BBC Bitesize feels like it has been around since the dawn of time. It has been an everlasting tool used by a generation or 2 of students. It is a free online study support resource designed from the ground up to help students of all ages to learn, revise and complete homework. From the ages of 5 to 16+ bitesize covers a wide range of school subjects.
All of the guides and information around topics are written by teachers or subject experts and follow the UK national curriculum. Bitesize is one of the main platforms used by homeschooling parents with a catalogue of hundreds of lessons available to download.
The website is simple to navigate with all resources available to you within a few clicks. With dedicated sections for Primary, KS3, GCSE and post 16+ to help break up the complexity of the topics and prevent those at the GCSE level from picking up irrelevant topics as an example.
Bitesize also has extensive support networks for students to use. No matter what stage of life you are at, moving to secondary school, starting a new relationship or feeling stressed and overworked, they have a number of stories from people who have been through similar to help support you through a possibly turbulent time. They also provide careers support that is not offered often
Sometimes, you might just need an extra bit of guidance in order to fully comprehend and understand a topic. Other times, you may need that additional help to learn the foundations of a subject to progress with your studies. Whatever it may be, Sherpa Online is as comprehensive as it gets. They boast a huge catalogue of Qualified UK teachers and professional tutors all available at a moments notice to help you with your studies.
3,500+ online courses being taken by 21 million learners are incredibly strong numbers. Alison is one of the world’s largest free learning platforms for skills training and niche education. Up-skilling is the primary aspiration of the platform, to enable positive social change, create opportunity and promote equality in a higher skill society.
Not only do they provide the courses but also certificates on completion. These certificates can be used to bolster a CV and increase employability. Their most popular courses include Food Safety and Hygiene, GDPR and First Aid. Previously, if you wanted to receive a qualification in any of these disciplines you would have been required to attend in-person seminars which were inaccessible to a large majority. The ability to conduct these sessions from the comfort of school or home can only be a positive.
Codeacademy is free, simple to use and has a large volume of top-quality courses. They have helped over 24 million students learn to code and improve their skill levels by providing a free learning experience for beginners and intermediates alike.
The courses follow a structured curriculum and can help you learn a new skill every day. With quizzes each step of the way, you can evaluate the progress you have made consistently so you never fall behind. The only downside is that there is no instructor support, there is a limited sense of community so you have to fend for yourself but if you can look past that, Codeacademy will work wonders for you.
Sherpa has hundreds of qualified and experienced UK tutors who are ready to help you achieve your goals. Search through our tutors and arrange a free 20 minute introduction through our industry-leading online classroom.Find a Tutor
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