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Remote studies. How to make the most of it

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the most extensive disruption to education systems in history, affecting billions of students in most countries. Educational losses may reach future generations and reverse decades of progress if the studies process is not steadied. 

However, despite the pandemic, education has not dropped in value and significance. Thirst for knowledge made us look for other ways to study and continue learning new things. Nowadays, most schools and colleges have decided to switch to distance learning. Thus, you can take any courses basically from your bed. All you need is to have any device that has access to the Internet and a bit of willingness to learn.  

Today, we would like to tackle the distance learning topic as an alternative to college, school studies, or any courses you need to take in person. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of distance learning, as well as the changes in the educational system that we had to experience due to the pandemic. Plus, we will examine how to improve academic performance even if you are not much into distance learning. What if you discover something new for yourself? 

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Pros of distance learning 

  • You can study anywhere in the world, generally speaking, wherever there is the Internet. Usually, there are two lesson formats: either a pre-recorded video lesson or a live webinar. Live broadcast is no different from the regular offline meeting since you can see the teacher and the presentation, ask questions, and communicate with classmates.
  • Flexibility: you are free to choose the time for your classes that works the best for you, especially if you are busy with work or have a non-standard schedule. Typically, online study time can be easily squeezed into any work schedule.
  • Low cost: organizations that provide training services do not need to rent premises, buy furniture and equipment, and maintain a permanent staff of teachers. Also, by studying remotely, a person does not depend on transport. In addition to saving money, this allows you to save a lot of free time.
  • You get the specific knowledge you come for. Even if you did not study in college, you might still learn particular areas you would love to, skipping the non-related topics. It means that physical education will not be present in your studying program when your major is programming courses.
  • Knowledge relevance. Nowadays, it is not mandatory to get a traditional education to secure a job. Many people with a university degree strive hard to find a job that fits their specialty. The person who has strong knowledge of a specific subject, even obtained via distance learning classes, may get hired quickly since they may immediately put their skills to practice. 
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Cons of distance learning 

  • Not everything can be studied remotely: you can study history or literature, design or programming, but you cannot learn to be a pilot or a surgeon in a remote class. 
  • There is a lack of communication with distance learning systems. Receiving a traditional higher education, the student interacts with teachers and classmates in an informal setting. Such communication can generate unique ideas and radically change the fate of people.
  • Remote learning has a dependence on technology. In the course of distance learning, you are likely to face unforeseen circumstances that will get in your way. For example, at the most inappropriate moment, you may experience a power outage or computer failure. Also, Internet connection may get interrupted during a crucial online seminar, and, in most cases, there is little you can do about it to fix it quickly.
  • There is a lack of control from the teacher in distance learning programs. Feels cool at first, but not everything is so simple. At first, the student may think that the lack of control gives him additional freedom. However, distance learning courses require strong motivation and strict self-discipline. You will have to create your remote education studying plan, take complete control of your studies, look for motivation, and sometimes struggle with the desire to relax and postpone the necessary work for later.
  • User identification. So far, the most effective way to check whether a student has passed exams or tests honestly and independently is through video surveillance, which is not always possible. In some cases, students must attend the final exam in person by visiting the college or its affiliates. 
Photo of teacher giving online school lesson during quarantine and social distancing due to Covid-19 pandemic, closeup. Pupils studying at home via video conference

How to enhance the learning process?

Most people believe that if they spend some time memorizing a piece of certain information by repeating it, they will remember it and recall it, for example, in an exam. This is a common mistake. Instead of simply perceiving information repeatedly, you need to learn how to connect it with what is already in your memory, find connections with other information or your sensations. Such links will create a network of knowledge that can be restored even if one link falls out from it. 

We suggest looking into other ways to help with understanding how to learn and memorize things quickly:

  • Find metaphors, analogies, or mnemonics. When studying a complex topic that is difficult to absorb, develop your own comparison or metaphor. If you recall the examples from school, fractions are often taught by visualizing a pie with some of the slices removed, and radio waves are compared to the ripples on the water when you drop in a stone. Using these simple ideas that we all understand, we may provide a context for the more complex concepts. As for mnemonics, they can come as a song, rhyme, acronym, image, phrase, or sentence. The most common example is using the name Roy G. Biv to remember the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Feel creative!
  • Use the Loci method (loci is the plural form of the word locus, the location from Latin). Visualize a place through which you can take an imaginary walk. If you are memorizing a speech, it is helpful for the place to have a beginning, middle, and end, perhaps similar to a route you have learned on your way to work. Rather than just visualizing an image, as weird as it sounds, try to smell, feel, and hear the picture as well. This technique helps remember information that needs to be recalled only, such as lists, birthdays, names, and faces.
  • Tell yourself a story. Since our brain loves good stories, make it even better: imagine that you need to tell this story to a 5-year old kid. In this way, you will choose the simplest way to understand the material, so it will be easy to memorize.
  • Chunk the information. The critical aspect that makes this technique work is grouping things you need to learn according to context or pattern. You need to find what patterns feel most natural to you and stick with them. 
  • Use building technique. It works on top of the methods described above. Once you develop a deeper understanding of something and create related facts and concepts about it, you will understand them better.
  • Repeat already learned information a few times. This technique works the best for public speeches or presentations and only in conjunction with other methods.
  • Create a mind map. Write down a central theme and think of possible new and related ideas which may branch from the center. By focusing on critical concepts written down in your own words and looking for connections between them, you will better understand and retain the required information.

    If you do not study only but teach others at the same time, you may take a look at our stock photos for inspiration on your next project. 
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With all the said above, do not forget that keeping a healthy lifestyle may improve your memory in the long run. Also, no matter what you study for, find your motivation. You just need to start with a plan, work on your goals and keep going. Finally, surround yourself with the right people who will support you, and do not give up early! Soon you will see the results of your distance education efforts. 

How to organize your study plan

When planning your type of distance learning training, it is essential to understand what skills are needed to be developed or mastered to cope with a job or reach a new professional level. 

Once you've identified the areas and skills to work on, consider how far you would like to reach in your studies or work. When setting goals, experts advise using SMART technology. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. 

  • Specific: define what you would like to achieve and what is required for it;
  • Measurable: understand how to measure success and when the goal is considered as achieved;
  • Achievable: think about how realistic your goal is and which instruments or resources are required for the achievement;
  • Relevant: consider the importance of your plan and whether it meets your needs; what is the outcome once you achieve it;
  • Time-bound: decide on the time assigned to attaining your goal (day/month/year).

Each element of SMART works together to help you create a goal that is easy to plan, clear to follow, and simple to track. Setting goals this way will help you move forward in your career and achieve the success you want by organizing the process and providing the structure before you begin, especially if you do not know where to start. You may also check our article on managing time more efficiently, so you can reach your goals even sooner.  

Distance learning courses will inevitably force you to fight your most formidable foe - procrastination. However, if you are confident in yourself and determined to learn, distance education offers a variety of opportunities for professional and personal development. We wish you good luck and believe that you can make it! 

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