How to Make the Most of Virtual Learning


Photo courtesy of Madison Villarba.

Madison Villarba, Assistant Editor

It’s hard to believe that we’re already at the halfway point of this unpredictable school year. Even though we may not be having those dreaded midterms this year, study tips are always helpful, especially since this online learning environment is still relatively new. Hopefully, you’ll find a tip that will help you make the most of your virtual learning experience.

  1. Stay active

Since the weather is getting colder and it’s becoming harder to go outside, it’s important to find other ways to stay active. Following workout videos on YouTube, doing yoga or meditation, or even just walking around the house are some great places to start. It’s also important to take advantage of the breaks we get during classes. When you’re at home, take the time to get up and away from your computer, stand, and stretch. Sitting down for long periods of time can be detrimental to your health, so it’s vital that you make sure to stand up every now and then. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.

  1. Get away from the screen

We all know that being on a computer screen for long periods of time can be bad for our health. Headaches, poor posture, and eye strain are just a few examples of the many things that can happen to our bodies when we do so. One thing you can do is following the 20-20-20 rule while you’re on your screen for long periods of time.  Every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. As mentioned before, make sure to take advantage of breaks during class to get away from the computer. Even if you’re just standing up or getting a drink of water, you can certainly make a difference for the better.

  1. Plan ahead

Make a study plan. If you know of a test or quiz in advance, it’s a good idea to get a head start on studying. Plan to study for a half an hour or so every day leading up to the test rather than cramming for it all the night before. In the event you do need to study for a long period of time, make sure to study in intervals and take breaks in between. This will aid you in keeping calm and retaining information. It’s also a good idea to check out PrepNet the night or morning before your classes to print out anything you might need. Despite the extra work, planning ahead will be worth it in the end.

  1. Take advantage of your online resources

With all the time we’ve been spending on our computers, it’s time we use them to our full advantage. One obvious way is through online studying resources such as Quizlet, Khan Academy, and educational YouTube channels. Also, make sure to bookmark websites that you use frequently or need for a paper or project. Another way to take advantage of your computer is by using Google Chrome extensions if you use Google as your browser. For me, some of the most useful have been MyBib, Google Dictionary, and Power Thesaurus. MyBib generates citations that you can copy to NoodleTools or directly to your papers, and Google Dictionary and Power Thesaurus are great writing resources. No matter what you need, you’re bound to find something for you.

  1. Manage your time carefully

When planning ahead, I usually like to make a schedule of what homework and studying I want to do and when. Making a schedule is certainly something I recommend, but the most important thing to remember when you make a schedule is to stick to it. As previously stated, if you know that you have a test or quiz coming up, make sure to set aside some time each day to study for it. If you’re having trouble making it to classes on time, set alarms on your phone or computer to remind you five minutes before each class starts. The bottom line is that good time management will keep you on top of your work and away from future stress.

  1. Stay organized

There are many ways to get organized. Use a planner, keep your online documents in designated folders, and keep folders of bookmarks for each class. It can also help to keep all of the Zoom codes to your classes in one place. Whether it be on an online spreadsheet or Word document, having those links can be handy for those occasional times when PrepNet just won’t work. If you always seem to have dozens of tabs open at a time, use Google tab groups by right clicking a tab and pressing add tab to group. From there, you can add more tabs to that same group or create new ones. Overall, being organized will help you be more productive and save time from doing frivolous things.

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions

Despite the many uses of our computers, things like games and online shopping can oftentimes turn them into a distraction. So, to minimize the total number of distractions we have, it’s great to start with our external environment and surroundings. Make sure to Zoom from a place with as few distractions as possible. Additionally, if you know your phone will distract you during Zoom classes, make sure to keep it away from you. Having a place with minimal distractions is also especially important when you’re studying for an upcoming test or quiz. Once you find that ideal place, you’re bound to become more productive and pay better attention in classes.

  1. Make your environment your own

A learning environment with as few distractions as possible doesn’t necessarily mean your environment has to be vacant and impersonal. When you’re working in an area that’s pleasing and unique to you, it will only make learning more enjoyable. A personal learning environment will also increase your motivation, comfort, and help you learn at a pace that’s beneficial to you. Things like keeping your desk decorated with little trinkets and keeping it clean and organized are just a few ways to personalize your atmosphere. Listening to your favorite type of music is also a great option. A lot of the times, listening to music while doing homework can make it go by quicker, help you focus, and be beneficial to your overall mental health.

  1. Reward yourself and take a break

As mentioned before, it’s very important to take care of yourself. Rewarding yourself has many benefits such as a positive mental attitude and oftentimes handy motivation. The best part is that finding those rewards can be very simple. Whether it be taking a nap, watching some Netflix, or just lying on your bed, there are many things you can do to just relax. Furthermore, taking breaks, especially while you’re working or studying, can keep you from getting tired quickly and help you focus more. The only warning I have is to make sure you don’t mistake taking breaks with procrastination. Don’t take a break that’s so long that it stops you from getting any work done at all.

  1. Stay connected with others

One of the most important things this pandemic has taught me is the importance of staying connected to other people. Social distancing and staying at home so many months ago prompted me to reach out to my friends, especially those I haven’t seen in a long time. Not only does socializing keep away loneliness, but it can also help improve mental health. So, keep in touch with your friends regularly, even if it’s just to check up on them. It’s also a good idea to video chat with family members regularly, especially those who live far away or those you haven’t seen in a while. Since we’re seeing less of each other, it’s important to communicate to keep those relationships strong.

While we’ll inevitably run into different technical problems, there are still many things we can do to make virtual learning as easy as possible. Hopefully you learned something new or helpful that will make virtual learning easier. Together, let’s make this last half of this crazy school year as great as we can!