For those of us who have learned in classrooms all our lives, succeeding in online classes can be a challenge. Learning remotely requires a different skillset than in-person classes do, and it can be hard to stay engaged and focused when you are not in a classroom environment. Since many of you will need to do remote learning at some point during this academic year, it is important to figure out the strategies that make remote learning work best for you. Here are five remote learning tips to help you get started:
- Create a quiet, productive study environment.
Try to find a space in your home, dorm, or living space that is quiet and has minimal distractions. If you are studying in your room, it is best to create a study area separate from your sleeping and leisure area so you can associate the space with studying. Do not study on your bed! Find a desk and chair to sit at, and place your computer, charger, books, and school supplies within reach. Decorate and personalize the area to make it yours. Alternatively, you could try studying outside or in a local library, bookstore, or coffee shop (but be sure to wear a mask!).
- Hold yourself accountable during online lectures.
When taking online lectures, it is important to maintain your focus. Before class starts, dress up and get ready as if you were going to a classroom. This process helps to put you in a productive mindset and to separate class/work from sleep/leisure. During class, resist the temptation to look at your phone or multitask. If it is a synchronous Zoom lecture, turn your camera on and silence your phone. Try to stay engaged in the lecture, taking notes in a notebook or Word doc while actively participating in class discussions.
- Keep yourself organized with a calendar and planner.
Without normal routines, it can be hard to keep track of dates and times. Record your class times, appointments, and due dates in either a physical or digital calendar. Write your homework assignments and to-do lists in a daily planner. Organize your notes by course in a way that makes it easy to find your notes when you need to go back to study. When it’s time to study for exams, create a study schedule that breaks up the work into manageable chunks and stick to it!
- Stay connected with professors and classmates.
Connecting with professors and classmates can help you feel more engaged in the class and can make your remote learning experience more fulfilling. Try going to office hours even if they are optional, most people don’t go, or you don’t have a specific question. Get to know your professors, and talk about what you find interesting in the course — most professors would be happy to talk to you about a topic they are passionate about. It is also a good idea to get to know your classmates and join or create a study group groupchat for you to ask questions, trade advice, and help each other study.
- Reward yourself with productivity breaks.
At the end of your study session, reward yourself with a short break. Make yourself a cup of tea or healthy snack, listen to your favorite music, or take a walk outside and enjoy the fresh air. Avoid digital time-wasters like Netflix and social media because once you start, it may be hard to stop and continue studying. If you feel sleepy, take a 15-20 minute power nap in a comfortable spot. As important as it is to study for your classes, it is equally, if not more important, to take time for yourself to relax and recharge.
I hope you find these tips helpful for improving your remote-learning experience. These tips are just a starting point, and while this is what worked for me, everyone has different needs and preferences for their education. Take some time to try different strategies, and figure out what works best for you.
Remote learning is a challenge, yet there are ways to make the most of it and succeed in online classes. I wish you the best of luck and success in all your classes this year!