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Four Virtual Learning Tips for the Back-to-School Season

Written by: Miranda Owen

Miranda Owen is one of NAMI Wake’s work study students, helping us as a social media technician and blog contributor. 

Many North Carolina colleges and schools are offering virtual schooling for the fall semester. As students go back to school after a summer break, it is important to reflect on effective ways to learn through a virtual setting. There are some specific benefits to this form of education, most importantly the health and safety of students during the pandemic, but also increased scheduling flexibility and new modes of communication between students and teachers. Whether you are going back to school yourself, or your child is, this article will help you navigate expert tips for virtual learning. 

1. Organization 

Great organizational skills can benefit your virtual learning experience just like it benefits traditional learning. Organizing yours or your child’s study area with needed materials including pencils, notebooks, a charged computer and stable internet connection. If you can, it may be helpful to keep an uncluttered Google Drive or computer desktop where you can easily access coursework and assignments. Younger students may require extra nudges toward organizing their work space and assignments. This Slate article gives more specific information about organizing your distance learning. 

2. Time Management

Successful online students need to focus on time management. For elementary and middle school students, this may be simple as their teachers will likely structure their learning specifically. You can support your student best by ensuring their attendance and going over homework with them to ensure they are staying on track. If you are learning online this fall, remember that time management is key for learning virtually. Tulane University advocates for creating a general schedule which designates specific times each day to attend class, work on assignments and study. Using a calendar application to map out your general schedule and mark down important due dates can help remind you of your academic commitments. Northeastern University gives additional information about time management if it is something you struggle with. 

3. Participation

Participation is an important facet of learning which can be limited by the virtual classroom format. If classes are held live through Zoom or other sites, engage with your teacher by asking questions and actively listening. Treat your virtual classroom as if you were physically in front of your teacher. If your classes are not live, try engaging in discussion forums with other students, attending office hours or emailing your professor. If your child is a student, encourage them to speak up in class and to feel free to ask questions as needed.

4. Avoid Distractions 

Appalachian State University assistant professor Dr. Luetkemeyer says that “Discipline is key for the student.” It is crucial to minimize distractions in your working environment especially for younger students. Setting up a regular study area in a bedroom, dining room or home office is recommended. Studying at home can provide more difficult than studying in a library or other public space, so it will be necessary for each student to find what method works best for them. Some students benefit from listening to relaxing music or having complete silence in their study space. Additionally, Northeastern University recommends turning off your cell phone or using apps like Freedom to help students resist the temptation to multitask. 

Have any other tips for online learning? Leave a comment below!

Article Sources: I, II, III

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