How to study remotely through online classes 

By: Callum Denault 

Published on: December 15 2022

Photo: August de Richelieu (Pexels)  

With the internet being a huge part of daily life, it is also getting easier to reach an advanced level of education almost entirely online. 

If you are new to Canada, are planning to learn remotely through the internet, and/or are currently studying online, hopefully the information below can help. 

Learning from abroad 

There are several reasons someone may want to learn internationally, and in many cases, it can be easier to do this virtually rather than travel to the country you are studying in.  

EduCanada—the Canadian government’s official website for international students—has a webpage about remote learning. This webpage includes a search engine to help international students find a school that offers online programs within their chosen field, and the province/territory they want to study in. 

An Educational credential assessment can be used to help newcomers prove their foreign degrees, diplomas, certificates, and other credentials are equal to the same ones in Canada. The Canadian government also lists different organizations that can help immigrants compare their foreign credentials to Canadian standards, and there are ways to immigrate into Canada without a degree. In the case of someone living here without a degree, one may want to start going to school to graduate. 

To learn more about validating international credentials, please read our article on the topic.  

The Independent Learning Centre (ILC) is Ontario’s largest online high school, and it is a good place for people outside of mainstream school—including adults and newcomers—to get their high school diplomas and/or high school credits. The ILC is run by TVOntario (TVO), which is the Ontario government’s official broadcasting service.  

Remote learning and online learning, what’s the difference? 

Online learning is done in classes that were specifically made to be completed on the internet. Remote learning refers to classes where students study online in a class that was originally designed to be completed partially or totally in person.  

Remote learning became more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, and outside of social distancing, it can still be helpful in other ways. This includes staying in one’s home without having to move, having a more flexible schedule, and spending more time with friends and family

However, remote learning can also come with its own difficulties, such as hindering a student’s ability to interact with their peers, and adapting to classes scheduled in another country’s time zone. 

Participating in school clubs is one way to stay social within the school you are studying at, even if you are not physically going to campus. 

    Photo: Alexandra Koch (Pixabay)  

How to focus during remote work 

Being able to focus on your studies is the key to success in remote learning. Good ways to hone your focus include having a certain place to learn, setting a specific time for studying, and removing distractions.  

Manchester University suggests students take care of themselves by regularly spending time with family members and friends, and maintaining a good schedule by getting enough sleep, food, and exercise each day. They also recommended remote learning students see this as a learning opportunity.  

On top of listing various jobs you can do from home, Indeed gives several tips on working from home that can be applied to studying from home as well. It is important to designate what times of day are for you to work, compared to when you are living at home outside of your job. Ways to do this include blocking off your calendar during work hours, letting the people you live with know your schedule so they do not bother you during work, and silencing your phone (unless you are awaiting important phone calls/messages).  

Other helpful tips include planning your tasks in a way that help you build momentum. Start with easy tasks and work your way up to harder ones, make a music playlist for songs that help you focus while working, and overestimate the amount of time it will take you to finish a project, so you feel accomplished submitting it early.  

If you are struggling to be creative in a creative job, it may help to limit distractions. It may also be the case that you are experiencing writer’s block. Purdue University suggests writers try to write about what you are interested in, and  find an interesting angle or personalize a topic that may be boring to you. If your writer’s block is coming from stress, it can help to take breaks, manage a larger task in smaller pieces, and if all else fails, ask your peers for help.  

To learn more about ways to get past writer’s block, read our article here

Remembering information 

One tip is the Feynman Technique, which is talking about the topic you are learning about like you are explaining it to a six-year-old child. Because people sometimes use jargon and fancy language to hide what they do not know, using simple words shows the full extent of your actual knowledge.  

If your explanation meant for a child has gaps, then go back to researching the topic so you fill that gap and can fully explain what you need to know. On top of helping expand your knowledge, the Feynman Technique improves your communication skills and critical thinking.  

Spaced repetition—also known as spaced intervals—is another technique, which involves increasing the amount of time you wait before reminding yourself of something. It is common to repeat something to yourself in order to remember it, but sometimes adding time between each time you repeat a certain fact helps you remember it better. 

For instance, if you wanted to remember the name of someone you just met, it would take very little skill to repeat their name every five seconds. Waiting a longer period of time before trying to remember their name can make the task more difficult, and this difficulty can help you brain to actually remember the fact long term.  

A related concept is the difference between recognition and recall. Recognition is being able to identify something when you see it or are reading about it, while recall is the ability to remember something without any prompts. This is why multiple choice questions are easier than quizzes where students have to write open-ended answers: you have to recall knowledge for open-ended tests, but can get by on recognition for multiple choice quizzes. 

There are various ways to improve your recall. These methods include chunking—which is breaking down large pieces of information into smaller, more easily digestible ‘chunks’—using mnemonics, repeating things, and writing them down. While typing on a computer certainly has many benefits, writing things down by hand helps improve memory more because it involves more parts of the brain. Writing things down by hand also forces you to rephrase your notes into fewer words instead of just copying what you are being told. 

All in all, it is completely doable to go through school through online classes as long as you maintain your physical and mental health, follow a steady routine, and remember your goals. 

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