5 Tips to Beat the Online Learning Blues

The digitalisation of education, in no small way expedited and made a necessity by COVID-19 lockdowns, has enabled learning to be much more accessible. So accessible, in fact, that you can now complete a full programme from the comfort of your home. 

As much as accessibility and a seamless, fully online delivery are a big leap forward for students and educators alike, it’s important to know how to maximise the effectiveness of online learning, which comes with its unique set of challenges.

How do you get into “learning mode” when there’s no lecture hall to get you “in the zone”? What do you do when you start feeling isolated studying alone in your room (as awesome as it is to be able to take lessons in your pyjamas)? 

Fret not. Just follow these five tips for a successful online learning experience!

1. Reliable Devices and Internet

There’s no need for a supercomputer or the fanciest, latest model, but make sure you weigh and explore your options – laptop versus desktop, heavy-duty versus compact – to ensure your device of choice is able to support your study well. Sure, you can type out assignment papers on your mobile phone, but let’s be realistic here: just because you could, it doesn’t mean you should.   

Another key thing to consider is good internet connection. If your home internet connection is acting up, head on down to a shared working space or cosy cafe with good Wi-Fi to get a few hours of quality study time or an interruption-free video call for a group discussion. Alternatively, invest in a pocket Wi-Fi or upgrade your mobile hotspot plan.

Most web-conferencing apps require at least 5Mbps in upload and download speeds to run at their optimum settings.1 You can use an online speed-test tool to check whether your connection is adequate.

2. Scheduling Saves the Day

Upon receiving your course outline, you should build a schedule so that you have a quick and easy overview of what your days will look like. The schedule can include online lectures, tutorials, group discussions, personal study time, and assignment deadlines.

The freedom to study at your own pace is a huge plus point, especially for professionals holding down full-time jobs while pursuing postgraduate study. But it does help to have a schedule, drawn up by you, to hold you accountable to yourself. Without some structure, it becomes too easy to end up scrolling social media or binge-watch TV shows for hours. Nothing wrong with indulging in your favourite series – just ensure it’s not at the expense of your productive study time. 

Some easy-to-use scheduling and organisational tools are Google Calendar, Trello, Notion, and Todoist.

3. Study Space for a Clear Headspace

Not being in a classroom setting can be a distraction in itself: your bed is suddenly looking especially comfortable, and the Xbox is just an arm’s length away… 

Set up a dedicated space in which you can maximise your focus, or at the very least, make sure you’re facing away from distractions in the home. If your smartphone is the primary source of distractions – alerts from chat groups going off, notifications from social media apps – set it to “do not disturb” for the duration of your study session.  

Your setup should put you in a calm, receptive mood, where you look forward to studying, not dread it. A comfortable chair, a good table lamp, a hot cup of tea, and easy-listening tunes played at a low volume are all things that can get your study groove on.

4. Are You Even Paying Attention?

A schedule helps with time management – so long as you stick to it – but then comes the matter of attention management. Work out how long you’re able to maintain focus when studying so that your study sessions are actually productive and learning is retained. The average adult purportedly has a maximum attention span of just 20 minutes,2 so try starting with 10 minutes of uninterrupted study and go from there.   

Make sure to also take breaks to stretch, move around, and grab a bite to eat. Sitting hunched over the computer and your notes for long periods isn’t likely to help with information retention – and is simply bad for your health. 

And, spacing out study sessions over a longer period of time improves long-term memory: if you have 12 hours to spend on a subject, it's better to study it for three hours each week for four weeks than to cram all 12 hours in the fourth week.3

Hours-long study “marathons” and cramming won’t give you optimal results. Always remember: quality over quantity.

5. Studying Online Doesn’t Mean Studying Alone

Being physically apart from your fellow students in a fully online course does not mean you are on your own. Most online courses are built on collaborative learning and encourage group study sessions, which you can easily join via video calls. 

Tutors and lecturers are also involved in the collaborative learning process, and many maintain virtual “office hours” during which you can schedule appointments to go over your lessons and projects. They tend to be just an email away if you’re unable to make it for an appointment. 

At Singapore Institute of Management (SIM), students of our E-Learning programmes have dedicated Student Advisors, who provide end-to-end support to see to it that you have a successful and enjoyable study experience. They are with you from your first enquiry right up to graduation!

Ready for the SIM E-Learning Experience?

With seven 100% online programmes in the in-demand areas of Business Management and Marketing; Data Science; and, Information Technology to choose from, you can upskill, reskill, and propel your career forward with a quality postgraduate qualification from SIM E-Learning, all while maintaining a healthy study-work-social life balance. 

Schedule a call with our Student Advisors to find out which programme best fits your career aspirations and get a free, no-obligation eligibility check!


1 https://www.timeshighereducation.com/campus/what-do-when-technology-fails-educators-survival-guide-online-classrooms 
2 https://blog.gutenberg-technology.com/en/course-duration-and-its-impact-on-learner-attention-span 
3 https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2011/11/study-smart