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What can you do before teaching starts and during your studies?

Top 10 Tips for Study Success: Information for distance students:

  1. Make sure computer and internet facilities are adequate
  2. Become familiar with your course materials
  3. Create a workspace
  4. Prepare yourself for Zoom
  5. Set a study schedule and stick to it
  6. Become familiar with using the Library
  7. Update your academic writing skills
  8. Keep in touch with your instructor and other students
  9. Take practice exams
  10. Reward yourself

Make sure computer and internet facilities are adequate: If high speed internet access is not available at home, consider whether you can utilise facilities at work or elsewhere. For useful tipsheets and tutorials about web searching, Endnote, Word, Excel and more, visit the Student IT website (check the menu on the left of the screen). This website also has information about Blackboard and contact details for help with computing issues.

Become familiar with your course materials. Get a head start on your reading. Purchase texts well in advance in case of delays with stocking and shipping. Go over readings provided or ask if they are obtainable electronically via the Library's e-Reserve (PDF format, 311KB).

Create a workspace. Make a warm, clutter free and comfortable space with adequate light, where you will be free from noise and interruptions. Try to make this a space which is solely for study.

Prepare yourself for Zoom sessions (if your course has them). Zoom uses the web to connect you with your classmates and lecturer. You will find these sessions even more worthwhile if you read the required material ahead of time and are prepared for questions and to participate in discussions. Find out about Zoom and check the "Getting Started" guide. If connecting from home, find a quiet place to participate (hands free headset, a place to sit and take notes, a place for your laptop). Visit your nearest audioconference suite if you are using one.

Set a study schedule and stick to it. For an 18 point paper in a single semester allow approximately 15 hours per week study time (a 30 point paper = 25 hours study time).  Make a schedule to keep up with the pace, meet deadlines and ultimately succeed. Assess the time required for study and plan who will cover your home and work tasks during set or peak times for audioconferences, residential workshops, during reading and research time, assignment preparation and exam revision. Research shows that if you complete your first assignment you are likely to finish the entire course. See Family Support for issues you and your partner may need to consider.

Become familiar with using the Library:

The Distance Library Service (DLS) and your Subject Liaison Librarian are able to assist you with the above. Email the DLS or phone them on 0800 347 826. Hours: 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday. 

Update your academic writing skills via online resources available from Student Learning Development.

Keep in touch with your lecturer and other students. Be willing to speak up if problems arise, otherwise your lecturer will never know what is wrong. Contact your lecturer regularly with any questions you have. It is a good idea to discuss your progress with a real person. Your lecturer can also put you in touch with other students, which can help keep you motivated and become connected. Meetings with other students might be in person or via email, or electronic social networking. To stay in touch with what other postgraduates are doing, subscribe to the postgraduate newsletter by email request to: otago.post@otago.ac.nz

Take practice exams. For some papers, these can be found on the Library Exam Papers Online website. If past exam papers are not available for your paper, check your course material for module review questions or ask your instructor.

Reward yourself. The path to your ultimate goal may be a long one. Maintain your motivation by celebrating minor successes along the way. After submitting your first assignment, treat yourself to something you have been looking forward to: perhaps a dinner out with your partner; or buying tickets to a special event. Remember to reward your support team at home too. Negotiate what is study time and what is family time. Your success may well be dependent on their extra help during this time.

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