A Brief Guide to Online Learning

Originally Published on September 17, 2020

When I shared an article I wrote last year about school hacks, I had no idea that everyone would be navigating online learning less than a year later. I know many people are convinced that online learning won’t work for them, but it’s not going anywhere. After completing high school on an entirely virtual learning format, I think I’ve got the hang of virtual learning. Of course, now I am finished with my degree, but maybe this can help some of you who are still stuck in this online/remote learning situation.

A schedule is super important

I cannot stress this enough. You need a schedule. I know most students have synchronous learning this semester because schools had more time to prepare, or you live in states like Maryland where the superintendent is requiring so many hours of synchronous learning, but that doesn’t mean you stop there. If your classes are not meeting at a certain time, you have to make your own schedule. And you have to follow it. If you have virtual learning on zoom, google classroom or something similar, make a schedule around that. For those in high school and college, you’ll definitely have work outside of your “class” time. So make a schedule that accounts for everything you need and stick to it.

In high school, all of my classes were self-paced. So I worked from 9-3 with a few short breaks in between my classes. I gave myself 90 minutes for each class every day and if I found myself not finished with one or two things by friday I would have a few hours over the weekend to finish.

Have a space for learning

Honestly, I was never traditional with this. Everyone says it’s much easier to learn if you are sitting at a desk, ready to go, but it doesn’t have to be that specific. If you have a space other than your bed, get up, make it comfortable, clean it off and get to work. Honestly, most of my high school days were on the couch. But I was able to stay awake and focus and read or take notes comfortably. 

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Stay organized 

When I started college, I had not one, but two notebooks for every class. I had one notebook for each class for my regular note-taking and a second notebook for my pretty notes that I would use to study. I actually did this so I would rewrite my notes and hopefully better remember them, but I also just loved making my notes pretty. After my second year I started studying less because my mental health was better and I didn’t need to work so hard to focus, so I had one notebook for each class, and then senior year I broke down and got one of those 5 subject notebooks and it was such a good idea. My only disappointment was that I was actually taking 6 classes, so I had my awesome 5-subject notebook and then an extra notebook for my online class. 

Take breaks 

One of the most common things i've heard from people adapting to online learning is how hard it is to stare at a computer screen and focus all day. With CoVID, you have your “face to face” learning that is mandatory in most schools right now, along with assignments and supplemental resources like videos, powerpoints and readings to do. So how do you stay awake, stay focused and resist the urge to head over to netflix or twitter? 

Take. Breaks. Lots of them. I worked for an hour and then took a 15 minute break every single day. Sometimes, when I had a Jan term class or got closer to finals I would work longer, but the quality of learning is always better when you can take frequent breaks to reset. 

Good luck!

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