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8 Tips to Learn Better from Online Zoom Classes

Tips for students to focus and learn better through online classes.

It’s been more than 6 months since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have all been thrown into new ways of living, working and playing. One way in which IvyPrep has adapted to the new normal is by implementing online classes on the video conferencing platform Zoom. Although we have resumed in-person weekend classes at our new Somerset location, we still offer the option of attending class online should you prefer to self-isolate. With that in mind, here are 8 tips for you to make the most of your online Zoom classes.

Tip #1: Start preparing at least 30 minutes before the scheduled class start time

We get it – when you don’t have to commute to our centre for classes, it’s tempting to just roll out of bed 5 minutes before class and log on to Zoom just before class begins. However, doing this leaves you groggy and unprepared as you orient yourself into learning mode, which could lead to you missing out on crucial bits of content covered in the opening few minutes of class. To avoid this, try to wake up much earlier than the scheduled class time. This gives you the opportunity to freshen up, grab a quick breakfast and prepare your learning space for class. It also allows you to do a quick tech test before class so that you know that your tech equipment is working properly. Doing so will help you maximize every single minute of class!

Tip #2: Use a laptop or PC – not your mobile phone

Zoom is available as a mobile app on both Apple and Android devices. However, while this may be convenient, we encourage you to have your Zoom classes on a computer. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, having Zoom on your computer allows you to view lesson materials on a larger screen, which would be easier on your eyes. Secondly, using Zoom on a computer allows you to more easily access Zoom functions that would be helpful for your online learning experience, such as the chat box or the “Share Screen” function.

Tip #3: Have your printed notes in front of you

If you are given the option of viewing your notes in soft or hard copy, opt for the printed version. Having printed notes allows you to make more detailed annotations – which is strongly recommended regardless of whether you’re attending an online or in-person class! It also allows you to focus on the presenter’s screen, rather than switching back and forth between your soft copy notes and Zoom.

Tip #4: Remove distractions

When you’re attending an online class, it’s tempting to scroll through Facebook or watch cat videos on YouTube while your instructor is presenting. Take active steps to resist the urge! Place your phone on silent and far away from your computer screen so that you must get up and walk to use your phone – this significantly cuts down on your phone usage. On your computer, install a productivity software that blocks social media sites, like StayFocusd, so that you are unable to access those distractions that affect your learning.

Tip #5: Use headphones or earphones

Home can be a lot more distracting than a classroom – with the sound of cars passing, TVs droning and family members shouting, it can be hard to focus on class. Plugging in a set of headphones or earphones can help to mitigate these distractions and effectively enhance your online learning experience. They don’t have to be expensive noise-cancelling headphones – just a simple set of earphones will do wonders in helping you tune out those annoying distractions. They can also help you hear your classmates and instructors a lot more clearly.

Tip #6: Turn on your webcams

We understand if you are unable to turn on your webcams – perhaps you’re having the lesson in a place where it’s not appropriate to have a webcam on, or you simply don’t look presentable enough to appear on camera. However, if you’re able to, turn on your webcam so that your instructor can see you. Teachers rely a lot on non-visual cues, like a furrowed brow or nodding, to gauge whether students are following along with the lecture. Not being able to see a student’s face takes away that tool for us, making it harder for us to know whether you understand the topic being covered.

Tip #7: Don’t be afraid to unmute yourself and ask questions

In classes that have both in-person and online students, instructors have a lot to look out for, and if you ask questions using the chat function in Zoom, the questions can sometimes be lost under a mass of chat messages or not seen until the instructor has moved on from the topic. It is a lot easier to catch your instructor’s attention by unmuting yourself and asking your question. By doing so, you might even be helping a fellow classmate clarify a doubt that they had but did not feel confident enough to ask!

Tip #8: Make use of office hours and emails

In online classes, you aren’t able to come into class a few minutes early or stay behind for a few extra minutes to ask your instructor questions. But there are other avenues to get your questions answered! All our instructors share their email addresses at the start and end of each class. You can email them directly to get your doubts clarified. 

All SAT and ACT Masterclass batches also have scheduled “office hours”. During these sessions, there will be a dedicated Math and English tutor on standby to address any queries you may have. This is the perfect time to have a tutor explain a question in your homework or a practice test you have taken!

Attending classes online may be different from what you’re used to, but that does not mean that it would be any less effective! If you follow the online class tips in this post, we are confident you can get the same level of learning as you would from in-person classes.