In the past, distance learning was an option – a much less preferred option, usually chosen in the case where you had to study part time, lived remotely, preferred the convenience and flexibility, needed to cut costs or simply preferred to tackle your studies by yourself. Those who chose distance/remote learning, for the most part, had already decided to learn online. They had made mental and physical preparations to manage their time and space from home, while also having adequate technology.
Now… not so much. The unfortunate and tragic event of Covid-19 not only took the world by storm but also changed a lot of things we took for granted – like attending the school or university of your choice and even travelling overseas to do so. The sudden transition to online learning has left many institutions at various levels of preparedness, never mind mentally and physically preparing students for the immense change in their schooling.
Even in the best of circumstances, no one could have thoroughly prepared for all the challenges relating to taking entire schools, universities and learning institutions online. Some of the biggest issues relate to students that may thrive in the physical presence of an instructor and peers, that may have different self-regulation needs, technology needs, and social presence needs.
The question is – how do you prepare for this immense change? We’ve listed a couple of pointers below!
Set up a Calendar/Routine
Set up a routine that mirrors a school-inclusive schedule. Your schedule might be more flexible now, which definitely counts in your favour – however, you still need to normalize learning online as if you were still attending physical classes. It is easy to get lost in your sudden “freedom” and lack of having to physically go to school. Try to stick to a routine class schedule, with enough time allocated to projects, homework and studying.
Choose a location
Your workspace is extremely important. It isn’t as simple as just plopping down in a random place and getting the work done. You need to carefully choose a space dedicated to your studies, with easy access to your pc, enough space to lay your notes out on, stack a few books and be able to write and take notes comfortably. A dedicated working space boosts productivity and focus, helping you get into the right mindset necessary for learning.
Take a break or two
It is easy to get tunnel vision while studying from the comfort of your own home and losing track of time. It is just as easy to lose motivation and focus, if you’re mentally listless or drained. To help you stay on track and remain focused we recommend taking a break every hour, taking short breaks to check your phone or reply to messages and even to take a short cat nap if you’re feeling tired or drained.
Being able to study with a flexible schedule, in the comfort of your own home…can make it easy to lose track of time, or worse, deadlines and important dates. There are several ways to ensure that you stay organized – both traditionally or more modern methods. Draw up a schedule in your diary, map out a timeline on a whiteboard, make use of your google calendar to keep up to date or even go as far as to implement the use of available task management software.
The best way to ensure productivity and efficiency is to set realistic goals for yourself. Being able to tick something off as completed is extremely satisfying and helps you feel productive. If challenging tasks seem too daunting, divide them into simpler tasks that seem more doable. A great way to incorporate goals, is to reward yourself every time you reach one – whether it is a break, a snack or even phone time.