By Stephanie Huang
Edited by Sarah Nauman
The COVID-19 global pandemic has forced millions of kids to attend education online. Although online learning had been around prior to this, it has never been used on such a large scale. Many students find it difficult to learn online, whether it be from distractions, lack of motivation, or difficulty learning material through a screen. I have also experienced the newfound difficulties of online schooling recently, and it has been quite stressful. Luckily, there are strategies to help maximize productivity and learning online, such as creating a schedule, creating an organized setting, and engaging in participation.
One of the biggest differences between online and in-person school is the lack of structure in the day. Going from having bells ringing at dismissal times to sitting at home all day is a drastic change. The days online can begin to feel repetitive and start to mold together into one long, never-ending cycle. Setting a schedule for yourself and planning for the day helps students restore a sense of normalcy, which in turn boosts productivity and mood. Schedules also help immensely with time management, allowing students to plan out times for schoolwork, extracurriculars, and time to relax and sleep. There are several ways to implement a schedule in your routine, for instance, writing it in your phone, putting notes on a wall, or writing a checklist. Different people prefer different methods! In addition to scheduling work times, scheduling breaks are important as well. Sitting in front of a screen for several hours in the day can be detrimental to your physical and mental health, which is why implementing breaks in your schedule is important. Taking a short walk, talking on the phone with friends, or going to get a snack are all good things to do on a break. Overall, putting schedules in place for yourself at home is a great way to reduce stress, increase motivation, and increase the likelihood of success when learning online.
An organized and clean study space can increase productivity and focus!
Another helpful tip to increase productivity in online learning is to create an organized and clean study space for yourself. Our brains adapt to our surroundings; for example, when we lie in our beds and shut the lights, our brain knows it’s time to go to sleep. This is why creating a study space for work is important. Having a set space to study and attend online school is beneficial, and allows your brain to focus more and be productive. In addition to setting a space, keeping it organized also helps a lot. For most people, a cluttered setting equates to a cluttered mind. Even if your workspace is small, or does not have a lot of space, clearing out unneeded items and objects will help you stay organized. Keep the materials and books you need with you, but sometimes, there are unnecessary items cluttering your workspace without you knowing. By having a set workspace and keeping it organized, you will more likely stick to routine and want to get work done.
Finally, it can be difficult to engage in online learning, as you are not surrounded by a typical learning environment with students and teachers. Due to the layout of remote classrooms and conditions of online school, students are often lacking the meaningful discussion and interaction that typical classes offer. Similar to in-person schooling, participation is key. Not only is it a great way to help absorb the material you are learning, it also gives teachers and classmates a chance to know your name and/or face. Even just contributing in the chat box of a Google Meet or Zoom is beneficial to your learning, and teachers are more likely to round marks up if they see that you make the conscious effort to participate. Asking questions is also important, and it is especially crucial if you don’t understand an assignment or task. Instructions online can sometimes be unclear, so participating and asking for clarification helps greatly, and other classmates may have the same questions as well. It may be frightening to be the first to make a comment or ask a question, but don’t be afraid to take a chance; you might even make some new friends! Actively engaging in class and discussions online is a great way to increase understanding and connect with fellow classmates and teachers.
In conclusion, online school can be tough, especially since it is all quite new to most students. However, there are ways to make it easier and promote positive mental health during this time, including planning and scheduling your day, keeping your workspace organized, and actively participating in class. By following these tips, you can make online learning a little bit easier for yourself, and increase success in school. If you are having a hard time, know that you are not alone, and many other students of various ages are experiencing the same difficulties and emotions. All being said, don’t be afraid to ask for additional help from peers, teachers, or trusted adults!