Maintaining a healthy environment, staying engaged while distance learning

Stacey Franciamore, Editor-in-Chief

This semester the classroom looks different for many students as they’re taking classes online or in a hybrid format. If you are learning remotely it’s important to create a learning environment that will not only help you stay focused and engaged, but ensure that you’re getting the most out of your experience. Here are some tips that will help you become successful online learner 


  1. Create a supportive space 


Choose a dedicated working space that will make it feel like you’re in the classroom. The worst thing you can do is lay in your bed or on your couch. This will put you in the wrong mood and may even discourage you from participating and paying attention. Find a space in your dorm or house where you can sit at a table or desk just like you would in a classroom. It’s also important that your space is free from distractions. Make sure there’s no television on or music playing, and if you live with people, let them know when you will be in class.  


  1. Don’t be afraid to participate  


It may be more difficult to jump in on the conversation when you’re not physically in the classroom, but don’t be afraid to unmute yourself to ask and answer questions or use the chat feature to type in your thoughts. One of the best ways to stay engaged is to participate in the conversation and also offer your own perspective and ideas. If you find that you’re having a hard time participating, send an email to your professor expressing your concerns and have a discussion about what can be done moving forward.  


  1. Start your video 


It can be tempting to turn your video off, but, if you can turn it on, it will help you stay more accountable. Some professors require that you turn your video on, but many don’t. It’s easy to pick up your phone and scroll through Instagram or open a new tab and start doing work for another class if your video is off. By starting your video, you’ll feel surrounded by other people because your classmates and professor can see you. Additionally, it’ll remind you that other people can see what you’re doing, so you’ll be less inclined to do something you’re not supposed to be doing while in class.  


  1. Communicate regularly 


Stay in touch with your professors and email them regularly with questions, concerns or even just to touch base. Many professors even have virtual office hours for students to drop in and have a chat. It can be difficult to communicate or connect with your professor online, so it’s important to reach out to them if you feel like you need extra support.  


  1. Check in with yourself 


It’s always good to ask yourself how you’re feeling. Spending hours on your laptop can cause a strain on your neck and shoulders that may make it difficult to focus and be productive. To ensure you’re not uncomfortable, consider purchasing a laptop stand that will help prevent you from hunching over your computer. If you feel like your eyes are getting tired, blue light glasses, or glasses that protect our eyes from the blue light that projects from our screens, are also helpful because they prevent us from straining our eyes. If sitting in a chair all day causes lower back pain, you may want to roll a towel and put it behind your back for support. Additionally, remember to take breaks and allow yourself to unwind and detach from your work when you need it. Go for a walk or get coffee with a friend. It’s important not to completely immerse yourself in your school work.  


Try out these tips to help improve your online experience. Most importantly, if you feel like you’re having a hard time adjusting to online classes, remember to be patient with yourself. This is a new experience that will take time.