We asked students everywhere to share their best tips for succeeding at distance and remote learning during COVID-19.
The educational challenges presented by the COVID-19 outbreak are staggering — from schools on extended closure to shifting to distance learning, we know it’s a confusing and uncertain time for many students. Adjusting to a new reality of learning from home? We are sharing resources and experiences that might be helpful to everyone who is adjusting to their new reality of learning from home.
As part of this effort, we asked students everywhere to share their best practices and thoughts on succeeding and thriving in the online-learning environment.
We received a ton of great suggestions (thank you!). Here are the most popular ones:
Choose a study location
Designate an area for studying — and only that. Whether you have enough room to set up a desk that is only used for schoolwork, or you do your schoolwork at the kitchen table, having a designated spot helps maintain focus and minimize distraction. If you prefer to do your work in your bed (provided you won’t fall asleep – more on that in a second!), make sure your room is clean. One student had the following suggestion:
“When you do online school, it can help to work in a different room than you use for other things. For example, doing your work in your bedroom might not be ideal; so rather do it in the dining room or another quiet place without distractions. If you can’t find any other place to do your work, make sure you have a clean spot in your bedroom where you can stay focused.”
Get enough sleep and use your time to your advantage
Many students emphasized the need to get enough sleep. Don’t use the time off physical school to stay up late, but on the flip side, don’t sleep in excessively either. Make sure you are well rested, but leave enough time in your day to complete your assignments. One student had some good advice:
“Work when you are at your best. Morning person? Maybe work your way through most of your studies during the AM hours. Ensure you are still getting good sleep though!”
Our survey found that many students advocate putting the phone away during school time, and disabling notifications on the device used for school. Some went as far as to recommend deleting apps from the device used for schoolwork, or installing programs that track productivity. If you can, set up a separate computer profile for school work:
“You can set settings from your main account to block out certain websites and you can also set a ‘curfew’ so you'll be forced to log off after a while. It's a great way to separate your personal space from your 'school/work' space.”
Get (or stay) organized
Many students recommend making a list of assignments by priority to stay on track and meet deadlines. Don’t forget to make note of all due dates so you don’t fall behind!
One respondent said, “Allot a certain period of time for each of your classes, every day, almost as if it’s a regular school day. Having structure in your life, and then getting rid of distractions, helps you to stay motivated and focused during the day.”
Take breaks & have a snack
Many students emphasized the need to take frequent breaks, pointing out that not only does this practice help avoid burnout, but it is also necessary for physical health when sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time. Students also discussed the need to eat snacks (!), particularly healthy ones, to keep oneself fueled for optimal concentration. One student suggested giving rewards after completing tasks while another suggested enforcing breaks by setting a timer.
One great idea? Set up a comprehensive plan for the day:
“Set up what you want to accomplish at the beginning of the day, then figure out the most effective method to get everything done. Take a 5-minute break every 30 minutes and a longer break after 2-3 hours. Make sure you engage a different part of your brain (i.e. go on a walk, talk with someone, or play a game), then move on to a different topic when you come back for at least one hour.”
- Staying off the Internet to avoid distractions (except your study tools like Quizlet, of course!)
- Keeping your school schedule by getting up at the same time
- Working your subjects in the same order as your school classes
- Ensuring that your study space is comfortable
- Staying in touch with classmates to compare notes and maintain a social outlet
There is no one right way to excel in the home learning environment. Ultimately, everyone needs to find the approach that works best for them. The good (and bad) news: This is new to us all and we’re figuring it out together.
Over to you now!