After being homeschooled K-12 and doing most of my university education online, the concept of remote learning is not at all foreign to me.
In high school, I took an online paralegal course from the then-Oak Brook College of Law & Government, as well as individual online classes from Moody University and Patrick Henry College. Then post-high school, I completed my master’s degree through Liberty University Online.
Now that much of the world is making the transition to remote learning (from Kindergarten all the way through higher education), I spent a bit of time thinking through the things that helped me be successful as a “remote learner.”
1. Set Goals.
Because the remote-learning environment can often seem less-structured than the classroom, it is important as the student to set your own pacing goals. If an assignment is due in a week, break that down into manageable chunks. I would often set process goals, such as completing the outline of a paper by Monday, writing the body paragraphs by Wednesday, and proofread on Thursday. Or, when I was a middle school student struggling through my math textbook, I would set time goals, such as completing one chunk of problems in 20 minutes. Typically, I tied those goals to some kind of reward, such as doing whatever else it was that I wanted to do (going outside, reading a book, playing a game with my sister, etc.).
2. Work before Play.
Especially during college, I found it necessary to enforce a work-before-play policy. If I hadn’t finished whatever it was that I set as my goal for that day, then I also wouldn’t allow myself to play volleyball, go for a bike ride, etc. Really, this was my way of managing my time well. Most of my K-12 career was long before social media, but today, I would certainly do a work-before-Instagram policy, or perhaps even just set time limits for myself: 20 minutes of good, solid studying = 5 minutes of phone time. Even that would require discipline–and maybe even a loud, obnoxious alarm–as its so easy to slip into the dark hole that is social media for far more than five minutes, which sucks the productivity from my day! Whatever it is, find a way to manage your time well and prioritize your studies.
3. Create Space.
The one thing that was a game-changer for me in middle and high school was being allowed to go to my room and work where it was quiet and there were no distractions. At the time, I worked fairly efficiently just lying on my bed with my laptop and textbook. Now, I prefer a desk or table of some kind. The location is up to you, but the key is to minimize distractions in that space. Find a place where you can lay out your work (laptop, tablet, books, papers, etc.), organize yourself, and work without distractions for extended periods of time. Currently, that means putting my phone on “Do Not Disturb” or even leaving it in a different room so that I’m not distracted by it.
4. Take Active Breaks.
When we were younger, my mom (and teacher!) would send us outside to run a lap around the house whenever we were having difficulty focusing or getting stuck on a problem. After the lap, it was easier to sit back down, refocus, and push through the work. Now, I will occasionally break up long days by taking my dog for a walk or doing ten minutes of stretching. Whatever it is, whether its 20 pushups, two minutes of jumping jacks, or a quick jog around your backyard, active breaks can help refocus your mind and get you ready to continue working.
In no way am I guaranteeing that these tips will work for everyone; they are just what has worked for me over the years of remote and online learning. Find what works for you, throw out the rest, and make the best out of the next few weeks!