Study Effectively Using Your Digital Textbook
In this post we explore 10 key methods for using digital textbook features for effective study through a video presentation and the presenter’s notes. We’ll discuss ways to schedule study sessions, the structure of content, the fact that we should work through content in order, how to preview terminology, ways to commit to a topic, how to study-on-the-go, how to use quizzes for spaced practice, discussion, the use of learning objectives as review tools, and that we want to keep learning about learning.
Number 01: Schedule Study Sessions
You must study outside of classroom time if you are going to master the content of your massage training program at a level that will allow you to pass the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam (called the MBLEx). This is the national exam most massage school graduates must pass to obtain their massage credentials.
Plan a minimum of 60 minutes of study a day, 90 minutes is ideal. I know you’re busy and so this sounds stressful, but this is the reality and it’s better to face it and figure out how to make it happen.
You can break up your study into chunks throughout the day. In fact, shorter 30-minute sessions are better than one longer 90-minute session or one long day dedicated to study. Ultimately, however, you’ll want to study on a schedule that works for you. Probably most of us could get up 30-minutes earlier or put down the TV remote and study instead.
Schedule 30-minute study sessions into a calendar and set alarms on your phone. When a study alarm goes off, stop what you’re doing and study.
Number 02: Study the Structure and Organization of Content
Outlines, the table of contents, or in the case of your digital textbook, the right-side navigation gives you a big-picture look at the content. Now, your brain understands how to create a framework to organize the information it is about to read and input into long-term memory.
Always pause to study the organization of the material in your digital textbook and expand the right-side navigation. Look over this outline and understand how the topics are organized before jumping into an assignment. If you take the time to do this, you’re priming your mind for better comprehension.
Number 03: Work Through Content in Order and Don’t Skip Over Anything
Well-written educational content builds on itself. Information is presented in a sequence that begins with an easy entry-point and then becomes more complex. If you miss concepts in the early part of a reading assignment, you’ll struggle to understand later sections.
I know this sounds obvious, but start at the beginning of a lesson or topic and work through the content in order. Watch videos as they occur. Play learning games at the end of lessons and take quizzes to check your knowledge, even if they are not required. Remember to mark your work complete at the end of each webpage.
Number 04: Preview Terms to Enhance Reading Comprehension.
Lessons begin with terminology flip cards. Preview terms by reading the term and reading the definition. Some of the textbooks work through terms and definitions with you. Just click on the audio strip and listen to the term and its definition, while you read along. Previewing terms significantly increases your reading comprehension.
Number 05: Commit to the Topic
One of the advantages of digital textbooks is that they allow an author to break material down into chunks. You’ll see that topics keep the content contained so that your mind can group material effectively. You build your knowledge in a particular area deliberately, making it easier to learn and remember information.
The size of topics varies, but our analysis shows that an average reader can complete a topic in 10-25 minutes.
So, commit to the topic. Sit down and vow to complete the entire topic without looking at your Instagram account, sending a text, or getting up for a stroll to the fridge. You’ll actually build your ability to concentrate if you practice committing to the topic.
Number 06: Study-On-The-Go
This “chunking” of material also makes it easy to study on the go. Complete a topic while you wait for a friend at a café, while you ride the bus to school or even on a break at work. Digital textbooks are mobile-friendly so you can use them on a laptop, tablet, or phone. You know you’re never without your phone. So that means you’re never without your textbook.
If you can get into the habit of reading a topic, working through terminology, taking topic-specific quizzes, or playing a learning game anytime you have a spare 5-minutes, you’ll find that it makes a big difference on your grades and overall knowledge acquisition.
Number 07: Use Quizzes for Spaced Practice
Spaced practice is a method of study advocated by learning experts. It is also called by the terms. “knowledge rehearsal” and “drill and practice.” In spaced practice you drill previously learned content and then go away and do something else before you come back and repeat this process.
With spaced practice you teach your mind to travel to the place where the information is stored in memory. The more your mind travels to this place at various times, the easier it is to recall information.
Use the quizzes in your digital textbooks for spaced practice. Pass three quizzes in a row in the topic you just learned. Now, go to a topic you learned yesterday and pass three quizzes in a row. Now go to the topic you learned the day before yesterday and pass three quizzes in a row. Every day, return to previously learned content and pass three quizzes in a row as part of your study session.
Number 8: Talk, Talk, Talk About It!
When you discuss content with instructors, peers, friends, and family members the mind has an opportunity to integrate knowledge, make connections between previously unconnected pieces of information, and practice recalling and verbalizing content.
So DO tell your friends and family all about what you’re learning and Do use group study sessions to discuss what you know with classmates. Use “one more thing” described next.
One More Thing
Sit in a circle with your study group. One person is the prompter and score keeper. This person holds a list of terms and concepts to discuss.
The prompter says to the person at their right. Tell me one thing you know about X (a particular term or concept). The person shares one thing they know about X. The prompter says to the next person in the circle. Tell me one new thing you know about X. The person shares one new thing they know about X. Each time a person shares something they get a point.
If a person doesn’t know a new thing, they can repeat something that someone else said about the term for ½ points. However, you only get one repeat per round (a round is one term or concept).
You progress this way until no one can think of anything else to add about the term or concept and everyone has exhausted their repeat.
Now, the list of terms and concepts moves to the right to a new prompter/score keeper and you work through the next term or concept. Work through one term or concept for each person in the study group so that everyone plays the prompter/score keeper once. The person with the most points at the end of all rounds is the winner.
Hearing other people state things about the term, increases your understanding of concepts and will help you memorize more information on a topic. Everyone is learning from the group’s shared knowledge.
Number 9: Use Learning Objectives as a Review Tool
Learning objectives, are learning goals. They tell teachers and students what a student should know and be able to do at the conclusion of a lesson, module, course, or program. Teachers often base their quiz or exam questions on the learning objectives of student reading assignments. If you want to know if you’ve mastered the content, return to the learning objectives at the end of a lesson and use them as review questions.
For example, in Lesson 04: Healthy Professional Boundaries in the Boundaries: The Foundation of Ethical Massage Practice textbook, we’ll scroll down to the learning objectives. Look at the first learning objective.
- Define these terms: Client confidentiality, dual relationships, informed consent, intimacy, self-disclosure.
These terms are important because they have been stated explicitly in a learning objective. Can you define these terms off the top of your head? If no, drill the terms until you can.
Now let’s look at learning objective number 2. It says, list two ways professionalism helps a massage therapist establish boundaries with clients. Are you able to list two ways professionalism helps a massage therapist establish boundaries with clients? If no, look at the right-side navigation and you’ll notice a topic titled, “professionalism.” Let’s click on this topic. We don’t have to scroll very far before we find the aspects of professionalism that help massage therapists establish boundaries with client.
The point here is that if you are uncertain about how to review a lesson, return to the learning objectives and use them as review questions. If you work through these questions faithfully, you will mater the content.
Number 10: Keep Learning About Learning
The final study tip in our top 10 ways to use your digital textbook effectively is to keep learning about learning. The more you know about learning the better able you are to use study methods that are particularly suited to you.
Check out the digital textbook features videos that share the instructional design behind certain features and explains how different features promote learning. You can also visit the student blog to find more study tips and resources. You’ll notice that this video, along with the text notes for this session is accessible from the student blog.
Nice work! To summarize we looked at these 10 tips for studying effectively using your digital textbook.
- Schedule Study
- Study the Structure of Content
- Work Through Content in Order
- Preview Terms
- Commit to the Topic
- Uses Quizzes for Spaced Practice
- Talk, Talk, Talk About It!
- Use Learning Objectives as a Review Tool
- Keep Learning About Learning
Thank you so much for your commitment to learning the knowledge and skills you’ll need to be a great massage therapist. At Massage Mastery Online, we’re behind you all the way.