On New Year’s Eve of 2019, none of us could have imagined how drastically our world was about to change.
Within a few months, billions of adults were working from home (or unemployed). Meanwhile, school closures have impacted 1.6 billion students around the globe. Whether you’re a student yourself or your kids were affected by these changes, you understand the challenges involved. Until things get back to normal, what can you do to ensure effective online learning?
In this post, we’ll outline 6 online learning tips to help you stay productive and positive. Keep reading to learn more!
1. Start with Your Setup
Successful online learning starts with having the right tools for the job. This doesn’t mean you have to run out and buy the latest laptop, but your equipment does need to be up to the task. When your computer or tablet is older, it might lack the speed or memory required to run certain programs. Slow internet speed could be another challenge, disrupting video classes or restricting your ability to download course materials.
If outdated technology or slow internet is disrupting your learning efforts, consider upgrading your equipment or internet package. This is also a good time to invest in a headset and other distance learning essentials. Finally, make sure you understand the setup of each course. If your teacher uses classroom management software and you’re not sure how to log in or access all its features, ask for help.
2. Eliminate Distractions
The average student spent 20% of their class time checking their smartphones—and that was before the switch to home learning. Taking classes at home only increases the number of distractions available to us. The kitchen, the TV, our pets, and all our devices are right there, competing for our attention.
Without a solid plan for eliminating distractions, you’re bound to waste a lot of time. Get ahead of the curve by setting up a dedicated learning area for your online classes. Clear the room of clutter and, if possible, ask your family members or roommates not to interrupt you during class time.
If you easily get sucked into the digital world, install social media blockers on your internet browser and mobile devices. Even better, switch your phone into airplane mode until the end of the class.
3. Use “Brain Breaks” & Rewards
Too much screen time is detrimental to kids and adults, so find healthy ways to break up your online learning routine. Get up and stretch or go for a quick walk around the block between classes. If your kids are struggling to focus, schedule short, regular breaks for them to play or get some exercise.
The Pomodoro Technique (25 minutes of work, followed by a 5-minute break) works very well for some people. Others focus better if they switch between sitting and a standing desk. Find something that works for you, remembering that short breaks will improve your focus throughout the day.
You might also incorporate a “reward” system to keep yourself motivated. After finishing a class or an assignment, reward yourself with your favorite snack or beverage or an activity you enjoy. Create a visual or virtual checklist to track your assignments and celebrate your progress. Try your best to stick to a set schedule, but allow for flexibility when necessary.
4. Stay Connected
Isolation can be a major challenge in the online learning environment. Not only are you struggling to keep yourself motivated, but you’re lacking the human interaction of a physical classroom. Fortunately, social distancing doesn’t apply to the digital world. Chances are your teachers have created multiples channels for communication, so take advantage of them.
Is there an online forum for students to post questions or share experiences? Does your school or class have a social media page? Is everyone connected via a messaging app like Slack or WhatsApp? Don’t be a stranger! Introduce yourself, make friends, and get involved with your fellow students.
What if your kids are feeling lonely and isolated? Make sure they’re staying connected to their old friends and forging new friendships. Take advantage of offerings like group chats, virtual field trips, or other opportunities to socialize online.
5. Reach Out to Your Teachers
Are you or your kids having difficulty with the coursework?
Maybe you’re not tech-savvy and you’re still trying to figure out the online learning platform. Or maybe you work full-time and you can only study (or help your children study) on the weekends.
Whatever the case, don’t hesitate to ask your teachers for help. Even if you’re not physically in the same classroom, you’re working together towards a common goal—your education.
Be proactive and keep that line of communication open. This is especially important if you’re a parent and you notice your kids are struggling with online learning.
6. Don’t Expect Perfection
Our final piece of online learning advice is to realize it’s okay if things don’t go 100% according to plan. Even if you’re a perfectionist, try to set aside those tendencies and think about the big picture. While you’re adjusting to learning at home, your teachers are trying to figure out how best to teach at home.
We’re also subject to disruptions from software issues, slow internet speeds, and other technology glitches. Keep in mind that traditional classroom learning wasn’t perfect either. So be patient, be kind, and remember that we’re all doing the best we can.
Use These Online Learning Tips Today
2020 has thrown us all for a loop. Whether you’re a student yourself or you have kids in school, making the switch to online learning can be a challenge. Start with the proper setup and try to keep distractions to a minimum. Use these online learning tips to focus on managing your time while allowing for breaks. Stay connected with your teachers and other students and use a rewards system to stay motivated.
Most importantly, don’t expect perfection from yourself, your kids, or your teachers. Remember—we’re all in this together! Did you enjoy this article? Be sure to browse our other recent posts for more informative reads.