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SMU Libraries

Online Learning Is Different! Top 5 Hacks: #1 Online Study Skills

This guide provides practical tips for you to get ready for online learning in Term 1.

At a Glance

All settled? Ready...Set...Go!

I your chair closer to the laptop! Because it's study time.

The coronavirus pandemic has essentially upended our lives. It has redefined how we interact, work and study. We at SMU are responding accordingly. The pandemic situation has caused the majority of the SMU classes to move online, or some courses adopting a hybrid approach (i.e. around half of the class will attend in-person and the other half through online means via live streaming and/or other online tools). 

Although online learning has been around for a while, it never sought to displace the conventional way of teaching - in a classroom with your friends and an instructor. Now that things are a little different, it is a good time to hone your online study skills. To help you be better prepared for online learning, we would love to share some tips and tricks to ace your upcoming semester!

Give Them a Read!

Important Databases

Books Corner

We know that reading a book to be a good 'online' student may be too much for you. Fret not!

We have compiled a few chapters from different books to get you going.

Recommended Tools

Here are two note-taking apps that we have had the experience of using in the past. We have enlisted some of the most useful features for you to make a decision which one to choose!

1. Microsoft One Note

You can drop and drag things like text boxes, pictures and even videos on a page in this app. You can create notebooks and have notes within them. You can also make use of symbols like an exclamation point, to-do etcetera. This is a free app that comes within the Microsoft Office 365 suite provided by the school. The notes are backed up on One Drive, another product under Microsoft Office 365, which provides 1 TB storage to all SMU students. Learn more about Microsoft Office 365 for Student.

2. Evernote

It comes as a free software but with restrictions. With a free subscription, you can only sync upto 2 devices and it also places a maximum limit of 60 MB on uploads every month. It has a comprehensive approach to note-taking. There are templates for notes for different purposes. You could also set reminders to add an alert to your note. You could store your notes in notebooks and create as many as you like.


Tired of Reading? Watch These Videos!

It is important that you:

1. Know your syllabus: Read your course outline for all the modules carefully. You should know the grading components and their respective weights. The course outline can be found either on the BOSS page (where your enrolled modules are enlisted) or you can access them on eLearn on the respective module page.

2. Review assignments and activities that are due: At SMU, professors use a variety of assessments to evaluate students. This includes class participation, individual/group assignments, group projects/presentations among others. It is important for you to take note of all the deadlines, which are communicated either through the Course Outline or in the first few classes. 

Tip: Maintain a calendar either on your phone, laptop or even a small diary to keep a track of your submissions!

3. Log into your course frequently: Remember to log into OASIS regularly to keep a tab on the developments in your modules.

Taking notes in a traditional class setup can be different from that in an online class. Some tips for you:

1. Understand your learning styles: There are different types of learners - auditory, visual, kinesthetic. Each type uses a different strategy to learning. The auditory learners prefer to talk things or explain things by talking.They are more likely to read their notes aloud to commit them to memory. While the visual learners prefer to draw things. They make use of symbols, logos and drawings to better remember things. The kinesthetic learners prefer applications to theory. They put lots of examples or 'real-life' occurrences in their notes.

To know more about the different types of learners, you can visit the VARK strategies to develop effective strategies to improve learning.

2. Take effective notes: Use color-coding to take down conclusions not facts.

3. SQ4R Method:

  • Survey: Review titles, subtitles at a glance
  • Questions: Turn titles, subtitles into questions
  • Read: Make notes of bold and italics
  • Recite: Recite what you just learnt in your own words
  • Write: Writing helps you remember stuff
  • Review: Review the back Q&As to understand the central idea of the chapter/book/lesson
The use of electronic resources must comply with the Appropriate Use of Electronic Resources Policy and Singapore Management University Acceptable Use Policy