Struggling to Learn Online? Here Are 5 Expert Tips 

We all remember those long hours spent in the library at dental school, learning to revise for our exams, cramming information into our heads, and practising our practical skills in seminars and workshops.

Even though we might be nostalgic for our university days, there’s something fun about that way of studying — the camaraderie, the late-night coffee breaks, the minute focus on your revision notes. Not to mention that post-exam freedom!

So, it can be daunting when you come back to studying for postgraduate dental qualifications as an adult. Now, there’s no more parental pressure, no team of fellow dental students to walk home from lectures with, and no nagging tutors making sure you remember your exams! There’s just you, a cup of coffee, and a laptop.

If you’re about to embark on the season of postgraduate online study, then you’re probably thinking about what that will look like in practice. This article is for you. Read on to discover our five expert tips for studying online and why online education is the way forward for postgraduate study.

The Benefits of Online Postgraduate Learning

You may have noticed a trend towards online learning over the last five years. Since the pandemic, online learning just keeps growing in popularity, offering exceptional opportunities for distance learning for students globally.

This is a boon for students, especially those from countries where access to quality education is expensive and difficult. Now, students worldwide can access a British higher education institution to study for an accredited postgraduate diploma, even from other countries. 

As well as this, it’s much easier for postgraduate students to balance online education with their other responsibilities, such as raising children and their full-time work in a dental practice. This means that dentists can enhance their careers without taking a sabbatical, and can keep earning even as they study for a postgraduate qualification online.

What’s more, online education is considerably cheaper than in-person courses. In the UK, studying for a master’s in dentistry costs an average £27,000 for international students and  £23,500 for UK citizens. This is more than double the average cost of an online diploma at the LDi! It’s not just tuition fees that are smaller — no visa requirements and no expensive relocation costs mean that an online course is just a fraction of the price of an in-person course for the same level of education.

Finally, an online school can even offer better tuition than a face-to-face postgraduate course. The benefits that apply to students apply to the faculty as well, meaning a prestigious online school can offer its teaching team a more flexible schedule, better support, and the option to continue working in a practice, attracting working professionals and researchers at the cutting edge of their field.

Five Expert Tips for Making the Most of Online Study

With all the benefits of online education, it’s clear to see why many students are choosing remote learning over in-person courses. 

Yet online study is not without its challenges. Students may feel daunted by the prospect of studying online without the traditional structure of in-person classes and face-to-face experiences with their tutors. If a student has never experienced a remote class, they may be wary of technological challenges that might impact their learning.

So, how can dental students overcome these difficulties and make the most of their postgraduate online education? Here are our top tips.

Don’t ignore the basics

One of the biggest switches to the online learning environment is getting to grips with changes in technology. Sure, we’re all familiar with our email inboxes, and we might be comfortable with social media. However, when it comes to learning a new learning platform, students might face challenges.

The best way to embrace online learning is to get stuck into the learning platform from day one, exploring what’s on offer and how to navigate around. At LDi, we use our unique learning software, the Virtual Learning Environment. It’s designed to be super easy to use, so you’re welcomed on the course right away.

As well as the learning platform, we recommend setting up notifications, logging into your email regularly, downloading an app, and making sure that your payment details and contact information are up to date.

Doing this at the beginning of your course will help you to make the most of your learning and enjoy a seamless experience without any unnecessary delays.

Involve yourself in the community

Even though it’s an online course, there’s still ample opportunity to get involved in a community!

At the LDi, we know that community is everything when it comes to higher education. Having an experienced faculty, making friends with your peers, and adding a bit of friendly competition all make a learning experience more valuable and more enjoyable. 

Even though you’re studying from your home or office and can’t make in-person connections, make sure to take the time to add your comments when you can. At the LDi, that means sharing your thoughts on the news feed, getting involved in the leaderboard, and contributing regularly to the Clinical Forum.

All this means you’ll get the most out of your time learning online, and make real world connections that you can take with you once your course is over.

Establish a routine

Learning in person can be easy if only for the routine it gives us. Attending lectures, being on campus for in-person seminars, and having study buddies that get you through those long hours of the exam season are all moral boosters for when you face distractions.

But moving online? That routine is up to you, and if you’ve had a difficult week at work in your practice, it can be a struggle to motivate yourself for a Sunday afternoon catch-up session. 

Our top tip? Get established early with a routine and set up a space at home or in your office where distractions are kept to a minimum. Let your colleagues and family members know that you’re studying during this time and that interruptions should be avoided. Block off the time in your diary regularly and turn your phone on Do Not Disturb mode.

All these small things can help you establish a great place and time for studying, where you can concentrate easily and get to work. If you’re finding this difficult, asking your colleagues or close family members to support you can be a great tip. That means nudging you into the office when you’re tempted to skip!

Remember your passion

Last but not least, it can be difficult to remember what got us to study in the first place! When the going gets tough, keep your eye on the prize and remember your goal for this year. Some of our students find that it helps to write this on a Post-it note somewhere in their office. Or post and share about their achievements on social media. This keeps them focused when their minds wander.

As well as the big-picture goal, it can be helpful to break down your studies into achievable micro-goals, too. That might mean setting yourself a target for one exam and celebrating when you get there, but it could be an even smaller goal, like studying for 3 hours every Sunday for a month straight or attending every Live Study Club you can.

These smaller goals are still achievements and keep you motivated for the whole journey, even when that large goal feels a little out of sight.

Bonus Tip: Enjoy It!

However, perhaps the most significant thing you can do when you’re studying online that sets you up for success is to find a way to enjoy the learning process.

Studies show that you’re much more likely to stick to a routine when you are genuinely having a great time doing it. So, find the things that you enjoy, and start doing them at the LDi! 

Whether that is running an informal study club over Zoom, making colour-coded notes, attending live events, or simply learning more about a module you’re especially interested in, search out those moments, and you’ll find learning online is easier than you think. 

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