Find out how you can make the most out of FutureLearn Microcredentials with these top study tips.
Returning to study after a break can be difficult, especially if you’re now studying entirely online, maybe in an additional language, and with many more responsibilities than when you were last a student. We’ve picked out six tips to help transition to online study with FutureLearn Microcredentials.
1. Get a timetable
You will need to balance a range of competing time commitments with your study, from work to family and social time. Find a way of planning your weeks, using a paper timetable or online calendar, and set regular times for study. Find the times of day that suit you.
For example, you might discover that an hour or two first thing in the morning when you’re fresh works well, or a couple of hours at the end of the day when other tasks are done works better.
Weekends are great, but remember, you’ll also need time to rest, so plan for that too. Work out your most effective study times preferably 2-3 hours at a time, with 5-10 minutes’ break every 40-50 minutes.
You might find moments like your work commute or waiting to pick up family are opportunities to work on courses too. Remember that Microcredentials require 100-150 hours of study time, either on course steps, doing extra reading or working on assessments. That’s around 10 hours per week, so make sure you give yourself enough study time to do all that’s required for your courses.
2. Be social
When you study on campus, there are lots of opportunities to meet other students, share notes and solve problems. When you’re online, you might not have a coffee shop to meet in but you can use the comments to start conversations, share links to further resources and work together on tasks.
Learners regularly report that they find the step comments a valuable part of the learning experience, so don’t forget to make a contribution, even if yours is the first on a step. We have some further advice on social learning in a separate blog post.
3. Take notes
Studies of the ‘forgetting curve’ show that without keeping a written record of key concepts presented through course steps, learners are unable to recall around 70% of what they have learned just 24 hours later.
Notes are a valuable revision tool, helping you break down complex ideas into smaller parts to understand them better and apply them. Once you’ve written notes, it’s important to review them regularly, even take notes of your notes, add questions and comments to help you engage with the course content.
4. Read widely and deeply
On Postgraduate level Microcredentials, course educators will generally spend less time explaining each topic and learners are expected to fill in any gaps in understanding through reading widely.
When looking for readings beyond those recommended in Microcredentials, especially as part of assignment preparation, remember the 4 Rs:
- Is the text recent? Academic research is constantly being updated, so it’s wise to draw on research from the past 10 years unless it’s a classic text.
- Is it relevant? Make sure the article subject is helpful to building a better understanding of the topic.
- Is it readable? Many academic articles can be filled with academic jargon and hard to follow.
- And is it reliable? Question whether it comes from a peer-reviewed journal.
Take notes of key points while reading, and focus first on the abstract, introduction and conclusion. You might get all you need from here, but if the text is really relevant you will want to read more closely, or deeply.
5. Read assessment guidelines carefully
It’s always a good idea to start planning your answers to assessments as early as possible to help manage your time. Start by ‘unpacking’ the assessment task, which means looking at the wording very closely and starting to think about how to organise your answer.
Look for terms such as ‘describe’, ‘analyse’, ‘critically evaluate’ and ‘discuss’, which require different types of answers. Remember ATQ: Answer the Question! If the question asks about cars, don’t write about bicycles.
Many Microcredentials require you to write reflections on your own practice, so make sure you follow reflective task instructions to relate your practical experience to the theories presented.
6. Develop your academic skills
These are the kinds of skills you need to succeed in further study, and include note-taking, reading academic texts and managing your time. Other important skills include
- Referencing and avoiding plagiarism,
- Planning, drafting, academic writing and editing your work
- Numeracy and /or coding skills
- Critical thinking skills
It’s a good idea to visit the academic skills website for the institution you will be studying with, to find more relating to academic skills development check out these links below.
Lastly, remember you are not alone! If you need any extra support your course tutors and enrolment advisors can help you, simply reach out!