You or your school district have decided on distance learning. Now what? How do students make the most of virtual learning? Below is a list of my favorite tips on how to optimize your virtual learning experience.
Do: Get Your Ducks in A Row
Take the time to establish the expectations of your instructor. Classes look very different online, and likely for the better. You’re no less likely to learn in your virtual setting (link blog post), but you’ll need to make a map of the terrain. When will your instructor be available for questions? How can you best reach out to them when confusion arises? Figuring out these basic logistics early on will save you time and frustration in the future. Further, invest some time into planning your studies. Where will you take your classes? Wherever you decide, ensure you’ll have reliable internet access. Ideally, a well-planned structure for digital school will serve you best.
Do: Get Excited and Commit
Many of the traditions of in-person schooling serve to excite students about attendance. Perhaps you have a locker you like to design and decorate. Remember the excitement you felt picking out school supplies for the upcoming school year? Those fun customizable comforts exist in the digital world too! Designing a study space, whether it be your desk or kitchen table is not only practical, it’s fun! Ultimately, crafting a space you feel comfortable in will create a sense of legitimacy to your virtual learning experience that you may feel is missing.
Do: Engage Early and Often
Most importantly, keep the virtual learning-lines of communication between your teacher and yourself in use. If you wait until trouble arises, whether it be two or ten classes into the course, you may feel overwhelmed with your first one-on-one interaction. Talking to your teacher is not purely self-serving, reaching out helps them help you too. The more familiar your teacher is with you, the easier anticipating support you may need will be for them. Your instructor is there to help and wants to, let them.
Don’t: Forget to Take Breaks
Can you imagine working silently from the start of your school day to the end? Me neither. It’s easy to see why that sort of schedule isn’t sustainable. No differently, you must take time to yourself, as virtual learning is just as taxing as in-person learning. Schedule times to take up your favorite craft or hobby. Alternatively, head outside if you can, and stretch your legs. Not only is taking breaks important for managing your mental and emotional health, but it can also be a time to nourish your physical-self as well. With a little physical activity, you may feel less tired and find it easier to focus.
Don’t: Shed Your Schedule
As tempting as it may be, keep to your schedule the best you can. The pleasures of the virtual world can allow for a nap or an extra hour of sleep, but these habits can quickly derail your studies. The schedule you create will make virtual learning easier in the long run. The routine you establish should propel you, naturally, towards your goals. Moreover, staying motivated, and keeping yourself accountable is now wholly on you.
If this adventure into virtual learning is your first, I highly suggest using these tips. However, it is even more important that you listen to yourself. Try and take note of what you’re feeling, especially what tools work or don’t. Being able to identify the parts of your routine that slow you down, or trip you up, will make weeding out issues much easier. On the flip side, being able to recognize which aspects of your school day help you learn will make you a better student for years to come.