It’s Time to Rethink How You Study

How do students learn? For a generation of students who have known nothing but the internet and wondrous smartphones, the answers have changed. As study techniques improve, the classroom itself evolves, growing into a part physical, part digital arena with new rules. Old-school study techniques are outdated. To succeed, students need to be taught concepts that fit into the framework of an ever-new digital age.

Digitizing the Study Experience

To many of today’s students, physical textbooks look like awkward classroom dinosaurs. These textbooks have long been the be-all and end-all of education, but the digital age offers some striking alternatives – many of which radically enhance learning. One reason is interactivity. When a teacher opens a program and teaches students broad methods to use that software and its connected resources (such as a study website, an editing tool, or an online academic search engine), the learning approach becomes interactive. Students are not equipped with mere information, but with a tool they can use in multiple ways to access all sorts of data.

Digitizing the study experience directly impacts the way a study session is conducted. Students from grade school to college are incredibly familiar with manipulating digital content. A textbook is a bulky, boring thing. A digital textbook is a weightless reference source that can be instantly searched and switched to whatever page students want – then zoomed in or out on a particular section. It is no surprise students read faster and learn more clearly on the digital level.

Digital studying also produces alternatives methods of absorbing information. Acronyms, for example, are a traditional way of memorizing boring facts. This resource shows that “My very earthy mother just served us noodles” can be used to memorize the order of planets (Mercury, Venus, etc.) But with digital tech, students who want to sincerely understand can simply access a site or app that identifies the planets by appearance, position in the solar system, or an audible list – all depending on which way they prefer to learn.

Online Resources

While digital sources makes much traditionally paperbound material available, online resources can create entirely new categories of information. Sometimes online resources make classwork easier: Most college classes now use hybrid classrooms with online portals that contain lecture notes, key materials, homework reminders, and quiz reminders, all available for instant access. This makes a lot of troublesome and frequently illegible note-taking unnecessary.

Online resources also give students nearly unlimited examples. The traditional research paper approach of creating a thesis, making an outline, and working from introduction to conclusion can seem as dry as dust. But online examples of research papers can provide fresh insight into the unique ways other people are writing their papers. Stealing material directly is still wrong, but using online articles to brainstorm can be a winning move. Add these techniques to the online games designed primarily for younger children, and the online world becomes a useful companion throughout a student’s life.

Where Mobility Meets Good Grades

Students! They’re always on their phones, either texting, talking or just looking up useless information…

That’s the view of too many professors, and it is seriously outdated. Today, smartphones provide just as many studying improvements as they do distractions. With the proper implementation, a cell phone can be an especially useful way to get results in the classroom. If teachers do not mind, students can easily snap photos of lecture boards. Or if the professor likes to drone on in a lecture style, many phones can also capture key points of dialogue using recorder apps. It may increase the likelihood of taking a nap in class, but it also lets students access their class materials wherever, whenever.

An important note: For obvious reasons, professors rarely allow students to use smartphones during exams. Any mobile studying should be done well beforehand.

Social Media and Studying

Teachers need to offer additional support on social media platforms – there is simply no excuse in this Web 2.0 age. A professor who does not have a dedicated Twitter, blog, or Facebook page for helping out students or answering questions is not living up to today’s standards.

Of course, teachers can be reluctant to embrace technology they are not familiar with, particularly liberal arts teachers who have long been divorced from tech. In this case, social media can still revolutionize studying – it just needs to be student-led. Students that start a group on sites like Facebook or Google+ have the right idea. Such sites can be used to ask peers questions, start discussions, or find a time to do some seriously collaborative studying.

Whole Body Studying

Long overlooked, physical health is in fact the key to better memory, better study techniques, and better grades on exams. Students who want to excel in school should practice proper nutrition, exercise often, and get the proper amount of sleep each night. All night cramming sessions can do more harm than good. If students take care of their bodies, studying grows easier without that old-fashioned loss of sleep.

Teaching in the 21st Century

Teachers and professors have a responsibility to the new generations of students. Traditional lecture styles and study techniques do not help digital age students. Research has shown interactive teaching that involves student discussion and group learning is far more effective these days. The classroom revolution has already begun: Teachers have a responsibility to keep up. This means embracing all forms of communication as learning tools and using new tech to make materials as accessible as possible. Studying may end with the student, but it starts with the teacher.

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