How to Make the Most Out Of Remote Learning
Written by Samra Karamustafic // Illustrated by Jillian VanDyke
Make the transition to online classes a smooth one for a successful semester ahead.
Remember when we all thought that by the time August rolled around, the pandemic would be over? Flash forward to the Fall 2020 semester, and the situation is unlike anything we could have imagined back in March. As many of us know, many classes at Cleveland State University have switched over to remote learning, which comes with its advantages and disadvantages.
Online classes provide us with great benefits, such as a greater sense of freedom and flexibility over when you work on assignments, which is perfect if you’re juggling both school and work.
However, online learning has a few not-so-appealing aspects, too; maybe it’s that the Wi-Fi signal in your home is spotty or your rambunctious family downstairs makes it challenging for you to focus on your schoolwork.
Thanks to a variety of online resources, you have an arsenal of tips and advice that will make transitioning over to online classes that much easier for you. At the end of the day, we all want to make the most of our situation, and here’s how you can do just that.
SET UP A DESIGNATED WORKSPACE
I get it: there’s nothing cozier than working on your assignments while snuggled up in bed…until you decide five minutes in that you’re tired and would much rather watch another episode of your favorite show. That’s why designating a specific area in your room or home for studying can be incredibly beneficial in terms of productivity. It could be as simple as clearing off the dining room table for a few hours while you work. Once you get into the habit of sitting in that same spot, your mind will subconsciously begin associating it with productivity and work, and a spot like sitting at the table is less distracting than a comfy bed with Netflix just a Google search away.
"It could be as simple as clearing off the dining room table for a few hours while you work."
CLEAR YOUR WORKSPACE OF ANY DISTRACTIONS
Have you ever tried doing work with your phone right beside you? The entire time, all you see out of the corner of your eye is the screen lighting up as new notifications pop up. From personal experience, I can tell you that it won’t take long until you reach for it! Luckily, there are features designed to keep your mind off of your phone while you’re getting work done, such as the “Do Not Disturb” setting. With Do Not Disturb, the second you turn it on, all notifications are silenced while your phone is locked. If having your phone beside you with Do Not Disturb on is still too tempting, you could always place your phone in the opposite corner of your room or in another room in the house — whichever helps you stay focused and stay away from your phone!
If you live in a large household, you may face another distraction that is a bit tougher to get rid of: your family! If you have a harder time focusing with them around, try popping in your headphones and playing some music while you study; Apple Music and Spotify have plenty of playlists specifically curated to help you focus, which can always come in handy. If that still doesn't help, you could always visit your local library to see if they have any study areas that you could take advantage of — just remember to wear your mask if you do!
Turns out, buying a planner for 2020 may not have been such a bad idea after all. If you only remember one thing from this article, remember this: organization is key. Keeping track of assignments and quizzes can be a tougher task when you have limited face-to-face contact with your professor. When you don’t hear regular reminders about a certain assignment from your professor, you are much more susceptible to forgetting about the assignment — until you wake up and see the dreaded “Due Today” reminder on Blackboard.
You can prevent the anxiety-ridden all-nighters by keeping track of all of your due dates. It’s never too late to log onto Blackboard, download the syllabi for each class, and jot down the due dates for every assignment and test for each class you have.
If you’re not too fond of physical planners, you can find a variety of digital planners online, like Notion. Notion is a great online planner that you can use to track assignments and important dates. The best part? It’s completely FREE for students!
No matter what kind of planner you use, what’s most important is that you actually use it!
REMEMBER TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
While it’s extremely crucial to prioritize your schoolwork in order to have a successful semester, you have to make sure that you’re prioritizing self-care, too. These days, a lot of us are spending long periods of time staring at a screen and sitting at a desk, which can lead to side effects such as back and neck pain, headaches, and eye strain. Try to find some time to get up from your desk and stretch, even if it’s just for a few minutes. If you’re struggling with headaches and eye strain, make it a habit to occasionally step away from the computer so that you can spend time away from the screens. Visit a nearby park on a sunny day and immerse yourself in nature. Call up a friend that you haven’t seen in a bit and get coffee with them (just make sure that they have outdoor seating!)
Most importantly, give yourself a break when you know you need one. Being productive is great, but there is a fine line between productivity and burn-out that you want to avoid. So, if you have a splitting headache and the assignment that you’re working on isn’t due until the following night, give yourself permission to go to bed a bit earlier that night. As cliché as it may be, it’s true: balance is key. Put your best foot forward when it comes to schoolwork, but make sure that you’re setting aside time for you, too.