Online Learning Tips

The tips and techniques on this page are not exclusively related to language learning; they are about learning on online courses such as MOOCs.

Speed Reading

Some online courses require a lot of reading. Speed reading should save time without decreasing comprehension. Speed reading can also be used as a priming technique to increase retention when materials are reread at a slower pace.

Speed Listening

Speed listening is the auditory counterpart of speed reading. The techniques consists in playing video or audio material at a higher speed. Many online video players (not only on YouTube but also those built into MOOC platforms) allow the learner to change the speed, usually up to twice the default speed. The following quote illustrates how speed listening can help you in online learning:

Bjorn, one of the learners we interviewed, reported watching all lecture videos twice. He said: “I read an article about how priming really helps the mind cement content.” And then he applied that insight to his studies: “Instead of watching the videos and taking notes and pausing constantly,” he “watched the video in fast speed first, just really concentrating on the content, and then afterwards, watched it through while taking notes.” This strategy was aimed at improving the processing of new information and demonstrates the sophistication with which some learners approach studying.

Source: Veletsianos, George: "The Invisible Learners Taking MOOCs", Inside Higher Ed, 27.05.2015.

Study Habits from the Udacity Data Team

Nick Gustafson from Udacity's Data Team shares some tips based on the study habits of successful students on Udacity; see the YouTube video Study Habits from the Udacity Data Team:

Study Tips for the Online Student (UNT Dallas)

The University of North Texas at Dallas (UNT Dallas) has created a five-minute YouTube video on Study Tips for the Online Student. The video starts from the following observations:

  1. Students are most likely to study between 10 a.m. and noon.
  2. 64% of today's students study less than 15 hours per week.
  3. 33% of students say that they struggle staying motivated to study.

The video then gives the following study tips.

The 9 Best Scientific Study Tips (AsapScience)

From the YouTube video The 9 BEST Scientific Study Tips. These tips apply to learning generally, not just online learning.

  1. Study sessions are most effective in short small chunks (as opposed to long sessions). Schedule many sessions of 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Cramming and pulling all-nighters is linked to low grades. They may negatively effect reasoning and memory for up to four days. Instead, you should set specific regular study times during the day. This will prime your brain for studying.
  3. Passively rereading and highlighting phrases or sentences in a texbook is not effective; flash cards are much more effective.
  4. Define a specific goal for each study session.
  5. If you can't explain a subject simply, you don't understand it well enough. When you study something with the expectation to teach it, your brain will organise the information in a more logical and coherent structure.
  6. Practice! Making mistakes helps you identify gaps in your knowledge.
  7. Study in a dedicated spot; this primes your brain for studying.
  8. Studying with rhythmic background noise (or music) can be detrimental to focus.
  9. Put away your phone.

Other Tips

Books on Learning

These books are about learning in general, not necessarily about online learning.