The coronavirus pandemic has left students scrambling, leading to canceled clinicals and closed college campuses. As online distance learning becomes the new normal, many students may be struggling to adapt to a non-traditional classroom setting. To help ease your transition to a study-from-home setup, here are some distance learning tips while we weather this pandemic.
Stay Organized While Distance Learning
When you were attending classes on-campus, you likely had more than just a lecture and a night’s worth of homework to complete. Likewise, online learning involves more than attending a virtual lecture and submitting homework. From readings to forum posts, there are many responsibilities to keep track of.
If you are struggling to stay on top of your assignments and meetings, it may be worth it to begin by writing them all down including their due dates in one place. In a post from a student nurse forum, one user who was enrolled in an online program before the pandemic said, “I have everything I need to do for my 8 week class listed out, with due dates and descriptions.”
“I have everything I need to do for my 8 week class listed out, with due dates and descriptions.”
Recognize Your Learning Style
We all have different learning styles, and there is no right or wrong way to study. Whether you can listen to hours of content with no difficulty, or you find yourself struggling to focus for more than 20 minutes at a time, recognizing what works best for you will make it easier for you to hit the books on your own.
By understanding your own learning style, you can start using the proper techniques to improve the quality of your learning. Once you identify how you learn best, create a plan and stick to it. An experienced online student found what works for them is going over lecture slides before the virtual lecture. They said, “I had about 4 online classes for my previous degree so this is like a throwback for me. I actually really like it because it forces me to go over the slides before our Zoom meeting because I can’t “learn” things for the first time via virtual class. I have to teach it to myself and highlight things I need more clarification on. It’s more interactive that way and you won’t zone out or get bored. You just have to find a way that works for you because there is no opting out or choosing another route. We were all forced into this mess by default”.
“I have to teach it to myself and highlight things I need more clarification on. It’s more interactive that way and you won’t zone out or get bored. You just have to find a way that works for you because there is no opting out or choosing another route. We were all forced into this mess by default.”
Set a Schedule
Do your lectures occur at specific times? If your online classes do not follow a set schedule, it can be challenging to sit down and focus. Instead of procrastinating with Netflix or other distractions, make a schedule and stick to it. “Just like scheduling class time, you need to schedule time to study and learn at home,” said a Reddit user in a student nurse forum.
“Just like scheduling class time, you need to schedule time to study and learn at home.”
Another strategy many people swear by is the Pomodoro Technique. The idea is simple: work for 45 minutes, break for 15, and repeat throughout the day. This technique keeps you focused for a set amount of time while knowing that there is a break coming up.
Create a Separate Space
It may be tempting to stay in bed or on the couch with your computer. Chances are this can lead to you using the space for anything but actual work. You need a separate spot that is purely devoted to your studies. This can be challenging in smaller apartments or homes, especially when you can’t escape to a local cafe or bookstore, but it is still a vital thing to have. If you lack a home office, try to set aside a spot at your kitchen table that is reserved just for work.
If you must get out of your home in order to cope with distance learning, one nursing student had the idea to drive to a local McDonald’s parking lot where there was free Wifi. Studying in your car in the parking lot of a local business or public library with complimentary WiFi may be an unconventional environment to study from, but uncertain times calls for unconventional solutions. However, remember to practice social distancing by staying in your car.
“I can go somewhere and study but I need WiFi and can’t afford a mobile hotspot. I mean I guess I could park in the lot of a McDonald’s.”
Distance Learning with Young Children
The coronavirus pandemic has not only closed college campuses across the world, but it has also caused public schools to close leaving parents with no choice but to homeschool their children. Parents must now balance their own work while caring for their children. Remote students and workers recommend solving this by getting creative with your schedule. This could mean coming up with “shifts” with your partner or waking up before the kids to maximize study time.
Another student nurse forum user with online schooling experience recommends setting boundaries and making sure your kids keep to them. “Give them the hours you need to teach them, and then tell them they need to work on their own project or play in their rooms, but they can’t disturb you until the clock says (whatever time you need), no exceptions. Maybe it’s an art project, maybe it’s teaching themselves something online, or a book they need to read, or whatever. Your children will probably come in anyway, but once you set a rule and insist they stick to it, the distractions will be minimal.”
“Your children will probably come in anyway, but once you set a rule and insist they stick to it, the distractions will be minimal.”
We understand this is all easier said than done because everyone has their own unique home situations and every child behaves differently. Therefore, we also just want to take this opportunity to admire and have the utmost respect for the working parents who are caring for children during this trying time in our world, especially the ones who are also going to school to further their education.
Learning from home is no easy feat for everyone. Finding a way to stay motivated by rewarding yourself for sticking with your studies may be another solution for you. Think about what motivates you, and create your own reward plan. Maybe for every assignment you complete, you add $5 to a jar for a future purchase. Or, once you complete your lectures for the day, you can order in delivery and treat yourself to something on Netflix.
Adjusting to distance learning can be a challenge for many. However, by taking the right steps, you can make the most of your time at home, without sacrificing your studies. What other distance learning techniques have worked for you?