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4 Tips on Making the Most Out of Remote Learning

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A man watching a video conference with a black man with glasses in the middle, followed by many squares of people surrounding him.

As the current COVID-19 pandemic persists, schools continue to grapple with how to approach the future. Many universities have opted to make classes and curriculum completely online, leaving students worried about the quality of their education. However, though this is an unprecedented situation for many of us, there are ways to optimize remote learning.

For many college students, having a busy schedule and in-person classes keeps them on track with their academics. Many students rely heavily on actively listening to lectures in person instead of half-paying attention to pre-recorded classes, while access to libraries and study spaces is also essential for productivity.

On the contrary, it can be extremely difficult to focus while in a student apartment or dorm. Having roommates, being surrounded by distractions, and even having the option to stay in pajamas and doze off, hinder students from getting work done from home.

With the recent universal implementation of either completely online curriculum or hybrid–half in person and half online–classes, students are scrambling to find ways to make sure they get the most out of this Fall semester.

These are some strategies you can use to stay on top of your work and get the most out of remote learning this semester:

Animation of a computer and iPad, school supplies, glasses, headphones, a book, a magnifying glass, and a coffee mug.

1. Create an ‘in-person’ study and class schedule for yourself.

More often than not, watching a lecture in bed or in the middle of a busy apartment full of distractions isn’t very productive. If you’re worried about keeping up with work and motivating yourself to attend remote classes, create an alternative ‘in-person’ schedule for yourself.

In other words, ‘schedule’ certain classes to be at certain places. If you know you won’t pay attention in your Monday 10 am lecture from home, ‘schedule’ that class to be ‘taken’ from a specific library or quiet coffee shop. Be consistent with this.

Treat this plan as if you were required to go to class at that place and time every week. If you’re uncomfortable/unable to go to a public space such as a library or cafe, pick a quiet, clean spot that is not your bed or couch in your apartment or home.

Associate this spot with that specific class, and make sure you stay off of your phone and avoid any other distractions when you sit down to do the classwork or attend the online lecture.

2. Don’t do your work or attend online classes while in bed or in pajamas.

There’s one thing most college students love the most, and that’s their bed. Many students have trouble sustaining a consistent sleep schedule, yet use their bed as a sanctuary and place of relaxation. Mixing this safe and comfortable space with work or class will not help increase productivity or focus.

Even if you’re planning on staying in your apartment or home to take classes and don’t have alternative study spots available, try to change your clothes in the morning and get ready for the day. Avoid taking your classes in bed or on the couch, and schedule your day away from your bedroom as if you had a ‘normal,’ pre-COVID school day planned.

3. Set designated times for social media.

Be strict with yourself about how often you use your phone and when you are on social media. Just like in a classroom setting, keep your phone away from your designated study area or leave it home if you choose to go to an alternative location.

Similarly, if you’re attending remote lectures, try to stay off social media, Netflix, or other non-school-related websites during class. Treat your phone and social media during class and study time as you would in person!

4. Set up online study groups and group chats.

Know that everyone is going through this together: every single American student will have at least one course that is remote this Fall semester. Lean on your classmates, share study resources, and schedule extra online discussion groups to make sure you’re absorbing the material as you would in person.

If possible, you could also consider meeting up with classmates in person–distanced and following COVID social guidelines–once a week to take a class or complete assignments together. In today’s world, know that this is an unprecedented situation for everyone, and it’s okay to reach out for help!