Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, more than 1.2 billion students face a different learning approach called blended or hybrid learning. The model itself presents a variety of challenges for the educational system, teachers, and students.
Blended learning as a model has been around for a while, but since the COVID-19 pandemic put the pressure on social distancing, it’s rapidly becoming a standard learning approach universities worldwide start to adopt. It might sound like a very complex approach, but it offers increased flexibility, a mixture between remote and face-to-face learning, and setting your own learning pace.
Organizing your student life and balancing between university activities and social life is crucial for successfully adapting to blended learning. Here are six handy tips on organizing your student life, getting better grades, and leading a thriving social life during times of social distancing and COVID-19 restrictions.
1. Create a study & activity planner
Blended learning introduces a variety of learning models that combine remote and face-to-face learning. These models provide students with higher flexibility over their learning pace and schedule. For instance, an enriched virtual model allows you to learn at your own pace online while only going to the classroom to supplement lessons. It may sound like a dream model for many students, but if you’re not a self-starter and organized individual, then you may face enormous challenges.
Instead of doing everything just before a deadline, blended learning models motivate you to set and follow a continual learning schedule and seek additional knowledge in a physical classroom. To excel in this method, create a study and activity planner for an upcoming week. It takes up to one hour to plan your weekly obligations, and you can create easy-to-follow spreadsheets as a template for your planner. Having an optimized planner allows you to use your time smartly while increasing your productivity, decreasing your stress levels, and having more time for yourself.
2. Learn to set priorities
Brian Tracy talks about priority setting in his famous book ‘Eat That Frog’. He introduced a popular time-management system called the ABCDE method, a proven method for increasing productivity by prioritizing daily tasks. Once you have a daily planner filled with upcoming assignments and planned lessons, it’s time to apply the ABCDE method.
Let’s say you have to complete four online assignments before getting to a classroom tomorrow. Mark the most important tasks with ‘A’, the second most important tasks with ‘B’, and so on. ‘A’ stands for a task that must be completed immediately, such as completing a small project on a deadline as you’re working in a team, and other students are waiting for you to proceed. Once all your tasks are marked with letters, it’s time for execution. When you complete all ‘A’ tasks, you can move to ‘B’ tasks and so on.
Following this method, you ensure that your priorities are set, and you’re doing tasks that matter the most. Focusing all your energy on priorities will make a fundamental difference in the quality of your student life.
3. Do not multitask & remove distractions
Did you know that multitasking can drastically reduce your focus levels and lead to cognitive ability impairment? It’s hard to avoid multitasking, especially when you’re in the middle of an online course, and a notification pops up. Just check your social media feed for a minute, and you’ll realize there is too much content in a short period. Imagine what it does to our brains and focusing ability.
While preparing for a face-to-face lesson or doing assignments online, we recommend getting an extension that blocks distracting websites. For instance, Cold Turkey is a free app that blocks websites and sets time frames when you plan to be online without any distractions. That way, you prepare your lessons better and save a lot of time and energy that you can use on activities outside the university.
4. Use mind maps in your study process
According to one study, using mind maps while studying can boost retention by 15%. Imagine you have a massive chunk of text, which is, at first glance, boring and hard to remember. Creating a mind map as a diagram form can make the most complex topics easier to understand while working on your creative flow.
Mind mapping isn’t a new approach, but since the technology advanced, there are many excellent ways to easily create beautiful mind maps for your studies that will increase your productivity and engagement. For instance, if you’re following a flipped classroom model where you’re learning new lessons online while deepening the subject’s knowledge in a classroom, mind mapping will come handy. Navigating through mind maps is way faster than navigating through text, making you more prepared for discussion or assignments in the classroom.
Here are the most significant benefits of the mind map studying approach:
Easier memorization process — even the ancient Greeks used visualization methods to understand and remember ideas and concepts. It’s far easier for our brains to memorize visuals than big chunks of texts.
Higher engagement — it’s hard to learn anything if you’re not engaged in the subject, and mind maps boost engagement through brainstorming and creating concept connections.
Complex topics are easier to understand — the majority of mind maps are learner-friendly, which means students have an easier time to follow the ideas and fully understand the concepts.
Boost your creativity and productivity
Improves your writing — because you’re actively engaging with the written information and transforming it to visual information combined with text, the mind mapping approach can boost your writing skills in the long run.
5. Track your studying time
Setting an actual time in a day when you’re going to focus on studying is extremely important. The blended learning model features completing a part of your lessons at your own pace, making it easy to lose track of your progress. We recommend tracking your studying time with a time tracker and, during tracking periods, just focus on a task in front of you. Keep a piece of paper next to you and write down ideas and thoughts that you’d like to go back to once you’re done studying.
A Pomodoro technique is a popular time management technique that you can effectively use while preparing lessons at your home. It separates your studying time into intervals of 25 minutes (you can set your interval length) followed by a short break. During the short break, you can take a short walk, prepare your favorite drink, or simply move your body and stretch. It can do wonders for your productivity.
6. Do not forget about socializing and hobbies
Blended learning can be stressful and challenging, but it gives you a flexibility that traditional education lacks. It’s essential to focus on all parts of your student life and avoid neglecting some aspects.
For instance, many students are too engaged in activities outside the university while completely ignoring their studies, which often results in bad grades and tremendous costs. On the other hand, if you’re too focused on your studies, you’re missing out on the beautiful part of student life, which is forming new friendships and learning new things. The key to having a successful student life is balance.
Since COVID-19 pandemic limited social activities due to strict social distancing measures and high risks of the virus spreading, there are multiple challenges in socializing and working on university projects and assignments.
You can create social groups through video conferencing tools such as Zoom or Skype and enjoy talking with your friends or project team members. Also, many events and skill-sharing presentations are hosted online, and you can easily participate in these events and learn new things. If you’d like to learn a new skill or try a new hobby, enroll in online courses on Udemy or similar platforms.
COVID-19 introduced a broad application of the blended learning models that bring many challenges and opportunities to student life. You’ll have a chance to self-pace a part of your studies while learning online which can drastically improve the quality of your student life. If you know how to organize yourself and prioritize your university obligations, you’ll have more than enough time to form meaningful relationships, try new hobbies, and find your true passion despite the ongoing pandemic.