10 tips to thrive as a distance learning student

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10 tips to thrive as a distance learning student

You may be celebrating that your ‘school’s out for summer’ but that doesn’t mean you’ve stopped learning and your teachers are probably spending their Easter holidays learning new techniques to teach you online. It’s a totally new ball game and is often called the flipped classroom. Although you may need some time to adapt to this new learning style, it will probably suit many of you really well.

What is the flipped classroom?

Instead of spending most of your learning time face to face engaging with your teacher and classmates, you will now have blocks of work to complete in your time – which means you can work through it at your own pace. Depending on the platform your school is using, you may have lots of online quizzes so your teacher knows the areas to teach in greater detail during face to face teaching time. So the live classes will be more focussed on explaining the concepts you and your classmates might be struggling with.

If you’re lucky then school will be organised with some extra curricular activities too – group fitness workouts, music lessons and choir practice, debating and maybe even cooking! We’re looking forward to hearing about the most imaginative online clubs during lock down!

The challenges faced by international students are even greater as that 8:30 am school start may be when you’re going to bed so you and school will need to be flexible. Of course, your country may not be in lockdown and so you will be able to go outside and exercise regularly – no excuses!

So what are our top tips to be an effective online learner?

  1. Create your own school room or desk – ideally a separate room, space or desk that you only set up during your school time – this will help your brain separate work from free time especially as you’re not actually going to school.
  2. Are you sitting comfortably? Adjust your chair or laptop so that your screen is at eye level and your arms make a comfortable L shape resting on the desk. Your feet should touch the floor. Most office chairs will be set for adults but you can find some boxes to prop up your laptop or feet, and raise your chair – play around with this as it is really important to have everything at the right height for YOU. Once your learning space is ready, set up your laptop, go to the loo or fetch a drink and then come back, sit down and start learning!
  3. We can hear you! Make sure you have good headphones so you can hear and be heard by your teacher – and the rest of your family doesn’t have to hear all about Macbeth’s witches, calculus or French verbs!
  4. Tick tock tick tock – make and keep a routine – even if it’s very different from when you were at school. Try to keep the structure of your boarding school daily routine – wake up, shower, have breakfast and most importantly get dressed. You might not be leaving your house but getting out of your pyjamas in the morning will help you to start the day right and get you ready to focus on your schoolwork.
  5. What’s the time? If you are hours away from the UK, create your own timetable and suggest to your teachers when you can study independently and when you can join their online lessons. The important thing is to make sure you allocate sufficient time for your independent study in advance of the online lessons so you are as well prepared as your pals.
  6. What am I doing? You can’t follow your pal into the next classroom or discuss over tea what the homework is. Make sure you check into your school portal and message your teachers if you’re struggling to understand what you’re supposed to be doing and when. Remember it’s all new to them too so they will understand your frustrations.
  7. Keep focussed – ignore all those distractions at home – it’s not easy if your parents are working from home and on the phone when you’re trying to work through a maths problem. If your headphones have a noise cancellation function then all the better or maybe you work better with some LOW background music. Now’s the time to find the best way that you study independently before you go to university and have to do it for years. Structure and routine will really help.
  8. There’s a call for you – no, there isn‘t! Remember your teachers didn’t allow phones in your classroom so it’s no different now. Research shows that UK teenagers spend an average of 7 hours a day on their phones! That’s a lot of ‘just checking’. Give your phone to someone else – or at least in a different room on silent – while you’re ‘in class’. You can catch up during your breaks – and I guarantee those TikTok videos will still be there!
  9. Limiting screen time – yes, all your life your parents have been telling you how important it is to rest your eyes – nothing’s changed except now you have to spend more time online – officially. So, it’s even more important to look after your body. Take regular breaks to rest your eyes, do your fitness session at lunchtime or go for a walk. Remember your body is used to lots of exercise walking across campus never mind your sports lessons. Even just standing up, stretching your legs, arms and neck will really help. If you are struggling to concentrate, then stop the clock and get some fresh air if you can – it will work wonders.
  10. We’re all in this together! Boarding school life was 24/7 so life with your family all together all of the time might be driving you mad! Remember it’s just as challenging for everyone else so try to find a way to stay sane. Arrange some time to catch up with your pals – and try to arrange group video calls – so you can ‘just chat’ and compare notes. Don’t gloat too much if you can go out and about when some of your pals are still in lockdown. Now’s the time when you need your friends to keep you laughing and sane while we all adapt to the new world.

This article appears in the following categories  Boarding School Life, Courses & Exams, Education Systems, School Placement, Students

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