New technology, a new teacher, and a new schedule are causing chaos in households across the nation.  Specifically, virtual learning offers some unique challenges compared to traditional, in-person schoolwork. If you do not have a plan for managing these challenges, your performance will suffer.  Below, we offer some tips for staying focused, organized, and on-track while learning virtually. 

Treat virtual school like traditional school 

Often teachers rely on asynchronous learning.  They post lectures online, with slides or examples on how to get work done.  Because of this distance, it is easy to forget you are even taking a class!  Having a routine where you get up at the same time each day, take a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and then “go to class” may seem pointless, but it will make a big difference in your motivation and productivity.  This will keep you from falling into bad habits where you are not getting your work finished.

Have a dedicated workspace

It is important to keep a space specifically for studying that helps you focus. It can be a nook in your bedroom, at your kitchen or dining room table, or even a chair outside, get creative with the space you have.  Word of warning though—avoid somewhere that is too comfortable or distracting to make sure you remain focused. 

Identify and remove distractions to learning

We all know that distractions are everywhere, even when you’re alone in a room with your laptop, there can be plenty of distractions to break your focus (noise, visitors, daydreaming, notifications from your phone, etc.). Try to identify these distractions and do something about them.  Silencing your phone, working separately from your gaming system, or even closing the door will work to your advantage.

Give yourself a fighting chance

There are specific mechanisms you can put in place to help yourself succeed.  Take the initiative to get the help you need before you need it!  Create a virtual study group of peers you know, who can help you when you stumble in your learning.  Use the resources your teacher provides for you!  Whether it be access to online databases and the library, or virtual office hours, take advantage of the outlets your teacher has established to support your education.  Finally, get the help you need before you fall behind.  It is easier to ask questions at the first sign of trouble than to try to recover your grades after the fact.

Time management is key

Make sure to take extensive notes from lectures and beware of deadlines and due dates.  You are your own best advocate for learning.  You will want to keep a calendar and make note of any deadlines that are coming up.  This will keep you on target and assist you in getting your asynchronous work done well and on time.  Notes offer important information to refer to while you move forward in your studies.

These tips and tricks should help you to survive this new world of education.  Although virtual learning is hard, it does not have to be!  Follow these simple suggestions and you will find that studying is this new world is not nearly as different or negative as you might have believed.