The skills needed by students when they learn online are not exactly the same as those they need in a physical classroom. University students have some experience of managing their own learning but they may still rely on the university and their lecturers to keep them on track. For example, they may expect their time to be organised for them or resources and study spaces to be supplied. When working at a distance, they need self-regulation skills to manage their own learning.
Self-regulation has three phases (Zimmerman & Moylan, 2009). The planning phase is concerned with preparation for learning. The performance phase covers the learning activities. This is followed by the self-reflection phase, in which students consider their progress and begin to plan for the future.
Planning phase: Support students to set goals that they value, plan how to achieve those goals, and think ahead to identify when resources and support will be available.
Performance phase: Provide students with different strategies for approaching tasks. They need to be able to manage their time, know how to monitor their learning and be aware of where they can go and who they can contact for help. Encourage them to think broadly about where they can access support when a tutor is not available. Classmates, other students, friends and family, social networks, libraries, resource centres and online groups may all be options depending on the type of help required.
Self-reflection phase: Offer a structure for reflecting on learning. Students need to be able to evaluate their progress, understand why things worked or did not work, and understand how they could improve their approach.
‘Double-loop learning’ is important in this process. Double-loop learners do not simply solve immediate problems; they also reflect on how they are solving those problems, think about what they are trying to achieve, question their assumptions, consider how to become more effective, and remember to try different options. This helps them to become self-determined learners with the ability to seek out sources of knowledge and make use of appropriate online networks for advice and support.
Activity 3 Student study skills
Students need a variety of study skills to be able to learn online. These are not confined to self-regulation, but also include setting up a study environment, getting organised, time management, computing skills and the ability to manage stress.
Begin by looking at the online resources provided by your institution to support students to develop these skills. Note what is available and where the gaps are.
Use the two websites below to locate resources that could help your students to develop the study skills they require.
https://www.open.edu/ openlearn/ skills-for-study [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]
In most cases, you will find that advice about study skills relates to learning in a physical environment. The two websites linked above point to resources that could help you to fill the gaps. Many institutions redesigned their study skills support in response to COVID-19, so you may find that some links do not work, but the majority remain active.