As the new semester grows closer and the coronavirus pandemic is still a constant presence in our lives, an onslaught of colleges have started announcing their plans to offer almost entirely remote classes this fall.
Whether you’ve been taking online classes this summer or about to sign up for new courses this fall, here’s a few tips on how to set yourself up for success while studying at home.
Before you sit down and start studying, you’ll need a space that works best for you. Whether it’s a desk in your room or a quiet spot in the sunshine on your patio, working in the same place helps establish a routine. Explore which type of setting boosts your productivity! Once you’ve found that space, make sure your internet connection is stable. Lost connection during a class or online chat? Just be sure to log back in and write a note in the forum you might be in or the chat window of your classroom updating about the glitch. When tech doesn’t go as planned, you can always use your phone as a backup, as most virtual classroom software offers mobile apps!
Setting up your space also helps you to stay organized. Knowing exactly where your important books, assignments, and forms are can keep you on track for hitting your goals. Tip: Don’t forget to have headphones for listening to lectures or discussions in shared spaces!
Are you the kind of person who waits until the last minute to submit your assignments? Well, taking online classes frees up some time to practice those time management skills. Whether it’s setting up a weekly schedule to follow or blocking time for studying, watching lectures, and reading, being proactive about your workload is a great way to reduce a little stress from your semester.
If you’re more of a morning person, make time to study first thing with your coffee or tea. Night owl? Set aside a few hours after dinner to curl up on the couch with your textbooks. Not everyone learns the same way, so it’s important to think about when you’re most focused and what types of information best help you grasp new concepts. Whether that’s printing out syllabi and lectures for the visual learners or replaying video-based course content if you’re more of a listener, find what works for you.
From social media to Netflix or the ominous pile of dishes stacking up in your sink, there are many distractions when taking classes from home. Tackle the distractions head-on by setting your phone to silent, closing your chat windows, or online games while you spend time on classwork.
Still having trouble focusing? Turn off notifications from your favorite websites or apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you know you’ll try to check anyway, there are apps like Cold Turkey and Freedom that can help eliminate distractions by blocking the apps entirely until you decide to turn them back on, post-study time.
Although it might be tempting only to unmute your audio for a quick “hello” and “bye” throughout your class, try to stay actively engaged. As Karl Kapp, a professor at Bloomsburg University, says, “Ultimately, you can only get out of online learning what you put into it. In the end, you’ve got to step up and be responsible for your own learning.”
Whether it’s clicking that little “Raise Hand” button to ask a question, checking in on class discussion threads, or emailing your professor for help, only you can control the amount of participation you bring to class each day.
In an actual classroom, the lecture ends, and you get up from your desk – class is over. With online learning, that division between school and life starts to blur. While you may click out of the chatroom, you might still be sitting at your desk studying. That’s why it’s crucial – now more than ever – to set aside time for breaks. It can be a short, 5-minute walk around your block (with your mask on!) listening to a calming meditation or even just going to get a snack or another cup of tea. Whatever you decide to do, change your scenery. You’ll thank us later.
Whether you’re used to online learning or not, we’re all doing our best to adjust in this rapidly changing time. Students, teachers, counselors, you’re all in the same boat. Be patient and accept that it might take some time to get used to this new sense of normal.
Just remember, by taking time to embrace online learning, you’re doing your part to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and that’s a good thing. Keep it up and keep going.
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