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Getting the most out of online learning 

This blog post is written by Olivia, a first year undergraduate student at the University of Surrey, studying Veterinary Medicine and Science.

Lockdown has certainly been a new and challenging time for all of us. As part of this, many of us have moved to online or hybrid learning. This is likely the first time many of us have taken part in learning this way, me included! Being new to both online learning and university, I have definitely found it a very interesting experience. In this blog I want to share some tips I have learned along the way which have helped me stay productive and get the most out of online learning. 


If your work and lessons aren’t scheduled for you, it can be very easy to avoid starting them all together. Getting up at a regular time and starting your work at the same time can really help to stay motivated and keep on top of everything. I also found that planning what work I needed to do each day at the start of each week helped me to stay on track. Every day I would check what I needed to do and would feel super accomplished once I’d ticked them all off. Make sure you get dressed every day, it’s much harder to stay focused in pyjamas! 

2. Remove your distractions

Put your phone somewhere you can’t reach it whilst you’re working. With no in-person supervision, the desire to scroll on your phone is very tempting. If it’s out of reach and sight you’re much less likely to get distracted. You can also get various apps and plug-ins that restrict your use of social media and other websites- so if you think you’ll even be tempted on your computer try one of these. Think of time on your phone as a reward once you’ve done your work. 

3. Study somewhere separate

Marking the difference between studying and resting really helps you to stay in study mode. Set yourself up to study, turn off the TV or put on study music if you prefer. Move somewhere separate to where you relax- this could be moving from your bed to your desk, or if you do not have a separate area to study, try changing your position- sit at the other end of the bed and move away your blankets. 

4. Don’t forget to ask for help when you need it

If you are having less teaching in-person you are likely missing out on chances to ask your teacher questions as they would usually walk around the classroom. Don’t forget they are still there to help you. If you feel uncomfortable asking questions through online classes, drop them an email or use any school-specific forums you may have access too. Speak to your peers too- chances are they are confused about similar areas and you may be able to help each other. 

5. Take a break

Make sure you also leave yourself time for regular breaks. As well as being tempted to avoid working at all, it’s also very easy to over-do it. Don’t feel pressured to be working 24/7- it is just as important to take time for yourself. Try going for a walk outside or doing some exercise- this is even more important now we are spending so much more time inside staring at screens. As a vet student, I’d thoroughly recommend spending time with your pets if you have them- they’re proven to help you de-stress! That being said- do what helps you relax best. Try not to compare yourself to what everybody else is doing during lockdown, these are very unprecedented times and we all cope with it differently.  

These are some things that have helped me make the most of online learning and avoid feeling overwhelmed. I hope some of these tips help you to reach your potential with online learning and make a positive out of a very strange situation. I must stress that the most important thing is YOU, make time for yourself and don’t be afraid to reach out if you need it.