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6 Tips for Online Learning – A Student’s Guide From a Student

03/27/2020 Article

As we transition into a time in which things are moving to a virtual space, it’s important to understand that learning from home faces its own challenges.

Online classes can be convenient, but the amount of potential distractions is greater than in a typical classroom. You may be tempted to check your social media more often or put off watching a lecture to watch something on Netflix instead.

Still, it’s important to learn, get work done and finish off the year with high marks. Here are a few tips to help students get the most out of their online learning experience.

1. Establish a good workspace.

Create a dedicated learning environment. By organizing a set location to complete work, you can begin to establish a consistent routine. Whether this space is at a desk, on the couch, in a library or the corner of a local coffee shop, finding a space that matches your learning style is important. Experiment with different locations and perhaps change between a few throughout the day to maximize productivity.

Once a workspace is established, wherever you are, check for the materials you need. Here is a list of some essential equipment:

• High-speed internet connection.
• Computer
• Headphones (for mobile workers, consider purchasing noise cancelling headphones to eliminate ambient noise)
• Required books, materials, lessons and software

2. Budget your time, set schedules and stay organized.

At the start of the day, open your calendar and choose a predictable, reliable time that can be dedicated to virtual learning. Online forums are convenient; however, it is important to allot specific portions of each day to complete necessary work.  PullQuote-goals

Write down and set clear goals to help guide your workday and keep you on track. Remember, a goal should be specific and easy to measure, for example “I will watch and take notes on the videos from Module 3 of Carpentry and complete the accompanying assignment.” Though online learning allows flexibility on when you choose to complete work, by being proactive and self-aware, you eliminate the risk of procrastination.

3. Schedule breaks.

Maintaining personal health and wellness is a crucial component to the success of online learning. If during a work session you find yourself feeling tired, unable to focus or becoming easily distracted, your performance will decrease. Integrate personal time into your routine and take a 5-10 minute break between sessions. In fact, “microbreaks,” breaks between 30 seconds to 5 minutes have shown to improve mental acuity by an average of 13%.

Utilize this time to get a change of scenery. Perhaps participate in a mild activity such as a short jog, or a walk around the block. Getting up and finding ways to boost blood flow will help maintain balance, renew energy and allow you to re-enter a workspace with a clear and focused mind.

4. Eliminate distractions.

Whether you are at home or at a public spot, with virtual learning you will be faced with distractions that can easily derail work. From checking social media, finishing the laundry and other ways of multitasking, it is best to try to minimize, as much as possible, those distractions in both the physical and digital environment.

Set boundaries with yourself and the people in your life to ensure that when it is time, your “work mode” will not be interrupted. Productivity is about balance and if certain activities are not relevant to your learning, schedule a later time to check emails, surf the web or clean the house to avoid losing focus.PullQuote-workmode

5. Hold yourself accountable.

Set goals at the beginning of each day, week or month and have frequent check ins with yourself to measure personal progress. In a physical classroom or training facility, instructors offer visual and verbal reminders about important updates and tasks. However, in a virtual setting the responsibility of staying on track is up to you.

If you find yourself having difficulty with meeting personalized goals or completing work in a timely manner, seek out a friend, family member or individual in the course that can act as an accountability partner.

6. Seek help when needed.

In a physical environment, building relationships with craft professionals and those who share similar interests may seem easier. While virtual learning does eliminate face-to-face interaction, you are not learning alone. These programs are built around the concept of collaboration and instructors are available to provide support. By reaching out and asking questions, you help instructors evaluate learners’ level of understanding as well as help fellow virtual classmates, as they may be having similar difficulties.

If you are an NCCER-certified craft instructor, join the specialized LinkedIn forum to connect with others and exchange ideas on virtual training and other topics. Virtual groups can serve as an effective and useful platform for those teaching and taking online learning courses.

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