2020 was a year that rocked everyone’s world and there are many things I wish I knew before remote learning took hold. With many of us, we had no choice but to embrace a new frontier of communication technologies. Whether it be utilizing ZOOM, Skype, Asana, GoToMeeting, or others, we had to adapt and understand new platforms. These platforms are now essential to completing our daily tasks. The transition to this new digital communications landscape was not a lengthy process. It happened overnight.
The COVID-19 pandemic promoted the already-established and digitally capable companies. These companies provided services to those of us that were mandated to stay home. This caught many of us off-guard. No more physical services? Just like that? We were required to adapt on-the-spot, if not, then as fast as humanly possible. With this transition, many skills, concepts, and tricks have been lost in the minutia. Following are some tips and ideas that would have been helpful to prepare for remote meetings and learning technologies.
The emergence of technology when the COVID-19 pandemic hit meant we all had to know our way around a computer. Even further, it meant we had to know our way around most types of technology. Meetings became ZOOM calls, debit/credit cards utilized tap-to-pay, e-signing became a preferred method, and physical transactions dissipated. Prior to the shift to remote learning methods, having a digital literacy class under the belt would have been helpful. But it does not mean you missed the window. A digital literacy class should be utilized now more than ever, because technology is becoming more involved.
If an entire digital literacy class seems a bit daunting, then find a computer, and jump on to YouTube. Or do a simple web search and enjoy a few informational articles. The internet is rich with instructional information and content that can aid you in understanding platforms and your device. Having a better understanding will allow you to be an efficient learner.
How Do I Focus?
Maintaining focus can be tough when planted in front of a computer for extended periods. A helpful practice that I developed over time is to engage with those I am meeting with remotely. Whether it be in a business meeting, a classroom, or a one on one with a professor/advisor, always engage. Learning remotely can often be difficult because we are exposed to the same distractions that we look forward to after a long day’s work. These distractions cause us to lose focus on what’s in front of us. Thus, it is important to engage so that you are a part of what is happening, as if you are really in the classroom.
Something I wish I knew that would have helped me focus more with remote learning, was ensuring I had a comfortable, upright chair. The chair cannot be too comfortable though. Think of it like a Goldilocks balance. I cannot place enough emphasis on this. There is a massive difference between a chair that you lounge in, and a chair that you sit in. Find and use an upright chair. Get a nice, comfortable seat cushion or something similar if you are sitting on a wood/metal chair. Or, get out of that lounge chair to find a firmer one that doesn’t put you to sleep. Sitting in a chair that keeps you upright can improve more than your ability to focus. It can improve your posture, and in turn, convey body language that is respectful and professional.
Avoiding distractions is key to remaining focused and is the ultimate recipe for success when remote learning. This is the most difficult concept for most students and frankly, the least practiced. A busy environment does not create a good learning environment when learning remotely. Find a place that is away from all the daily distractions and turn it into your study zone. Turn off any extraneous digital media that is playing in the background and avoid having your cell phone directly nearby.
If you know you are going to have visitors, plan your study time around it. Ensure you are absorbing and understanding the content during your time learning by creating an environment free from distractions. This practice will develop more over time. If remote learning is an unavoidable part of your current schooling, do what you can to eliminate distractions. It will promote your long-term success in class and improve your understanding of what is being taught.
Plan Your Meals
This is another major concept that I wish I knew before remote learning took hold. Plan when you are going to eat. There is nothing worse than sitting down for a 2-hour class and then hearing your stomach grumble. Especially knowing you do not have a break for at least another hour. Structure your daily meals around your classes and plan on your mealtimes. Your productivity will increase, along with your mood. As a result, you will absorb more and be more engaged.
It sounds like an easy concept: eat in between classes. But I cannot tell you how often it does NOT happen. Students are busy, trust me. When there are numerous tasks to accomplish in a day, our basic needs get put on the backburner. Plan your meals and carry them out, it will promote your success when learning remotely.
These are some things that have been the most discussed or the most helpful among my peers and I. Understanding your digital environment, maintaining focus, avoiding distractions, and planning your meals around your classes are just a few of many things that we can do to become more successful remote learners. Repetition will deeply aid you with these things. As we continue to interact with remote learning technologies, we will develop more efficient methods and better practices. We must continue to share these practices with others so that we can continue to promote a successful, engaging, and memorable remote learning environment.