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            ‘E-learning can complement classroom lessons’, shares Prof. Ammar Kaka

            The flexibility offered by distance learning makes it a popular and appealing option.

            Distance learning as a concept is not new. In practice, it involves studying away from the academic institution and it offers several benefits such as allowing you to fit your learning around your work and 北京体彩网官方网站 life, setting your own pace of study; but most importantly, it provides access to international education or certain programmes that may not be available locally, thereby permitting learning to continue uninterrupted regardless of where you are. In fact, research reports by Global Market Insights state that the size of the global e-learning market is set to be over USD 300 billion by 2025. Additionally, studies show that e-learning could potentially increase learning retention rates by 25% to 60%.

            As it is, students in the UAE at various stages of their education are already accustomed to accessing education materials such as learning resources, books, articles, academic papers and more online. However, both students and educators will now actively engage in only distance learning, as educational institutes close for four weeks in order to undertake deep cleaning in the light of the Coronavirus outbreak. There is a purpose to this, and through distance learning, students are personally contributing to preventing the spread of the Coronavirus.

            Here are tips for students on how to make the most of remote learning during this time, in order to ensure successful academic outcomes.

            Create your study space

            Similar to a university setting, a dedicated study space is crucial to being able to complete your work. If you are struggling with space constraints, a folding desk will also work. Try to arrange your study materials so that you know exactly where everything is and can find stuff when you need it. Dedicated and powerful Internet access is a must, as is a suitable device. Most learning systems today are cloud-based and accessible via most devices and having this set up in advance can determine how much you are able to achieve. A little bit of organization can go a long way in helping you get through your day efficiently.

            Have a daily schedule

            When you attend university physically, there is always a timetable of classes to follow. This may not be the case online. However, a schedule of sorts is essential in order to achieve the desired learning outcomes. Therefore, as a distance learner, you need to schedule your studies yourself and be disciplined enough to stick to it.

            One way of doing this is to spend some time at the start of the week writing down your learning goals, planning your study sessions and recording submission dates. For example, at Heriot-Watt University, we produce a scheduled timetable of live streaming lectures that allow interaction and live Q&A as well as recorded lectures for those who may wish to see it in their own time. Having a study plan will help students make the most of this as it is easy to get sidetracked and find you have reached the end of the week without having achieved much.

            Have a support group

            A large part of the university experience has to do with friends you make and the student life experience. By contrast, distance learning could get lonely. Some ways to counter this include joining university online forums or groups to connect with other students or social media groups for your course. Creating a network will help you stay motivated and energized and the sense of belonging this will produce has a positive impact on academic success. Similarly, your family also has a role to play here, and their support goes a long way in helping you achieve your study goals.

            Do away with distractions

            When you are focused, you put your best foot forward. Avoiding distractions can help you focus better. Some tips for this are having a routine for your studies, maintaining a desk free of distractions and turning off your mobile phone. Staying focused can help you get more done with your precious study time.

            Take a break!

            Almost all studies on brain function and concentration state that people struggle to maintain the same level of productivity after 50-90 minutes of continuous work. It is therefore advisable to plan study breaks as part of your study schedule as these can positively affect attention abilities. Taking breaks from studying every ninety minutes or so can improve both focus and attention. Some ways to utilize your break could be going outside, tidying up your workspace or engaging in social interaction. These techniques will result in greater productivity and efficiency overall.

            About the Author

            Professor Ammar Kaka is the Provost of the Heriot-Watt University Dubai Campus. Within Heriot-Watt University, he holds the position of Vice-Principal and the Professor of Construction Economics and Management. In 2008, he was also allocated the title of the William Watson Chair of Building Engineering. 

            Professor Kaka’s contribution to the transnational education in general and to Dubai’s education hub, in particular, has been immense.  With a student population of 4000 and a growing research culture, the Dubai campus is currently recognised as one of the UK’s leading providers of transnational education.  

            Professor Kaka has an international reputation for research on the assessment, planning and control of construction projects. Author of more than a hundred research papers, he has held numerous funded research grants with impact demonstrated by the extent of citation and direct industrial application. He is a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and a member of the editorial boards of a number of international academic journals. He has supervised more than 25 Ph.D. students to completion, many of which have developed into senior roles in governments, industry and academia. 

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