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The Survivor’s Guide to Online Learning

By Anuska M. | Monday, December 20, 2021

With classrooms shutting down and moving to our computer screens, online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has been no easy feat for us as learners. Trying to keep our grades up while adjusting to the new education system and learning from home has been difficult for all learners, including me. After all, when there’s no teacher around, and it’s a choice between paying attention in AP Calc or taking a quick look at our phones, we know Instagram is likely to win the battle. Right? Not necessarily. As a 4.0 GPA holder at high school and a tutor/learner at Schoolhouse, here are some strategies I use to keep my grades up and stay focused while learning online.

Strategy #1: Eliminate all Distractions

Like I said earlier, focusing on online sessions from home in the midst of tons of potential distractions (such as our phones) can be difficult. The most obvious yet most effective thing to do in this case is to get rid of all distractions. Try to find a quiet, comfortable place with few distractions to attend sessions from. If it’s social media that’s diverting your focus, you might want to consider switching off your phone or leaving it in a place where you can’t reach it impulsively. If you need your phone for your learning, enabling focus mode or downloading an app like Forest to make sure you’re using your phone productively is always a good idea.

Strategy #2: Plan Your Day

Planning your day doesn’t mean that you have to schedule everything down to the last minute. All you need is a concrete idea of the work you’d like to get done in a day, and how much time you’d like to ideally spend on it. This helps you to stop procrastinating and focus, and you should be able to get work done a lot more effectively. A really effective planning strategy is the Pomodoro Technique, wherein you divide your work into several intervals of a fixed duration (ranging anywhere between 25 minutes to 3 hours) throughout the day, accompanied with short breaks in between. This helps you retain your focus for whatever amount of time you decide to study, and recharge when you’re tired.

Strategy #3: Stay Accountable

A daily plan is only effective if you have to stay accountable to your goals. Some learners can keep a check on themselves. Other learners, including me, work more effectively when we are accountable to another person or group of people, such as a study group. If you fall in this category, you can ask your family or friends to make sure you’re achieving your goals via study groups, checklists, etc. Here at Schoolhouse, we have Study Spaces which you can join to study alongside your peers and tutors online, and keep each other accountable.

Strategy #4: Take Some Off-Screen Time

Online learning may require you to use your computers or devices for a large part of the day. However, looking at your electronic screen for large amounts of time might lead to frequent headaches and irritation in your eyes, making it difficult to stay focused. Thus, it’s essential that you take planned off-screen time after at least every hour. You can use this time to recharge, take a walk, listen to some relaxing music, or plan the rest of the day.

Strategy #5: Have Fun!

This is the most effective strategy of all, but it can be the most challenging to implement, especially if you’re struggling with a particular subject. However, enjoying your learning and developing an interest in your subjects is by far the best way to stay focused. After all, why would you have trouble focusing on something you genuinely enjoy? A good way to stay motivated is to actively participate during online sessions, communicate with your teachers, and ask doubts. At Schoolhouse, we have certified tutors in a wide variety of subjects, who make an extra effort to host enjoyable and interactive online tutoring sessions for free.

These are some strategies that help me stay focused while learning online. Implementing them can be hard at first, but once you realize that you can get a lot more work done if you just make a few simple changes to your learning style and environment, there’s no stopping you!

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