Following the outbreak of COVID-19 earlier in the year, schools across the globe made the decision to switch academic learning to a fully online platform. While this left many wondering what online learning would look like and whether or not it would even be possible, students everywhere were forced quickly to change the way they were used to learning for years. The increased level of self-accountability as a result of digital learning has proven to be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, some students now have the opportunity to re-watch lectures which could help reinforce important material. However, on the other hand, there is no one stopping someone from sleeping through their online classes with their computer turned on. Moreover, there is also a question about schools' and institutions' ability to enforce academic honesty integrity from a remote platform. Look, we’re all new to this and we need to be patient in letting this system develop. It isn’t perfect, but for now, it is all we have. While we can’t recreate a typical classroom, there are certain steps students can take in order to make the most out of their remote learning experience.
Here are 5 things you can do today to stay productive with online classes:
1. Go To Class
This one may seem pretty self-explanatory, but you’d be surprised how many students let this one slip once everyone went remote. Your mindset is crucial for how productive you can be, and your mindset is directly impacted but the environment that you choose to surround yourself by. If you want to recreate an academic environment, then act like you’re in one! Just because you aren’t physically in class does not mean you are excused from them. Keeping good habits is key!
2. Wake Up Early
Similarly to the last tip, studies show that you are more productive when following a routine. While it may seem like you are on no schedule and sleeping in is too easy, don’t do it! Now, this isn’t to say you have to wake up at 5 AM every morning unless that is what you normally do… The point is, keep your alarms the same from when you were at school so you don’t fall into a lackluster psyche.
3. Study Groups
One of the benefits of being home rather being physically in class is that you can take advantage of the technology in front of you. Study groups are proven to increase retention rates in the classroom, and since we are all stuck at home anyway, why not be opportunistic? Apps like QBuddy, a startup founded at Cornell University, helps match people together based on personal interests, goals, and overall compatibility. This could be a great tool to find someone to learn the material with and to help motivate you without distractions. Just ask NYS Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as he publicly endorsed the startup in his daily newsletter back in May.
4. Productive Workspace
When you’re at school, you typically will find students learning or studying some type of desk or table with minimal distractions. Our brains are programmed to think that when we sit down at a desk in the library, it’s study time. Similarly, our brains are trained to think that when we’re in bed, it's sleep and leisure time. This can actually make a huge difference when it comes to working productively. Again, and I can’t stress this one enough, act like you’re in an academic environment as much as possible. Of course, everyone’s home life is different and it may be impossible to fully re-create the environment in which you’re used to, similar to working from home. But when you’re studying, do it at a desk, not in your bed. When you’re in class, put your phone away and focus on the material. We’re essentially trying to trick our minds to go into productive mode. It can be done easier than you may think but it requires a level of willpower and commitment.
5. Take Breaks
Taking a break from studying or doing work is completely normal and is actually crucial to maximizing what you’re able to get out of the classroom. Every now and then, we need time to let our brains recharge and to let our minds wander elsewhere. Even taking a break for 5-10 minutes can make a huge difference when it comes to productivity. You don’t have to feel like you’re slacking just because you aren’t doing work every second. But everything in moderation right? Just like you shouldn’t overwork yourself, don’t let yourself fall into the habit of continually taking extensive breaks out of procrastination like so many do.