Student learning on their laptop

The last year may have brought renewed attention to distance learning, as well as seeing some students experience this for the first time. Whether enrolled on a distance learning course or forced into remote study by the pandemic, this is something that has gained in popularity. That being the case, there are many students approaching assessments who will be looking for guidance and support when it comes to studying remotely. Below is a look at some simple hints that can help students adapt.

Create a Routine

There is a degree of freedom with this method of studying and this can present its unique problems. With traditional lectures at university, there is a structure: each day has a timetable and students are required to be at a set place at a set time. When studying remotely, this structure is gone.

What students need is guidance in establishing an effective routine for themselves. Studying remotely needs to be treated in much the same way as traditional study is. There is a need for a structured plan so that students know what their day involves and so that it is clear what targets need to be achieved. It is not just study that needs to be planned: students also need to plan in times for breaks and relaxation. Properly scheduled breaks mean that they are better placed to study and that they don’t run the risk of burning out.

Work In The Right Environment

Following on from the need for students to create a routine, there is also a need to create an environment that is suitable for, and conducive to study. Studying remotely gives students a greater degree of responsibility. There is a lack of supervision when it comes to day to day learning, and it is perhaps a little too easy to fall into bad habits. This may see studying taking place whilst laid in bed or perhaps whilst distracted by the TV.

Those who are self-employed and work from home are often advised to create a separate place for work. This could be as simple as a desk that is clutter and distraction-free so that you can truly focus. The same is true for those who are studying: creating a separate workspace means that students are able to fully focus and create boundaries between study and home life. Although it may be unavoidable, it is recommended not study in a bedroom. This can affect associations with the room and students may find it more difficult to sleep at night.

Removing Distractions

Once students have their routine in place and have created their workspace, they then need to ensure that they are free from distractions. Studying remotely means that students are exposed to an array of potential intrusions and interruptions. These could be as simple as family members or housemates creating noise or it could be linked to being absorbed in social media.

In terms of family, friends, and housemates, it is as simple as speaking out and reminding them that although studying from home, it is still study. A solution to social media is to remove the app from the home screen and ensure that notifications are silenced during any time of study. The best course of action is to actually leave a mobile phone elsewhere.

Maintaining Contact

Whilst education places an emphasis on grades and qualifications, of equal importance are the social skills that students acquire. These skills are not only vital for the workplace, but they also reduce the risk of a negative impact on mental health. Studying remotely can see students feeling isolated and it is important that students do all that they can to avoid this. This means staying in contact with peers and lecturers alike. This could be during online catch-ups with lecturers or even social media groups that have been created for certain year groups or subjects.

A survey carried out for the Office of National Statistics (ONS) by WONKHE and Trendence found that 39% of students said they felt lonely in May 2019. This compares to 50% that was reported in October 2020. This highlights the need for students to stay connected even if this is in a virtual sense.

Engagement is key

Students who are perhaps unfamiliar with studying remotely need to adapt and fully embrace the experience. Attending an online lecture on its own is not enough. There is the need for students to fully engage and to approach such lectures with the same degree of attention and seriousness as they would a face to face one.

Students also need to ensure that they engage with their online learning. Assistive technology allows them to interact with lecturers and peers and this is something that is to be encouraged. Students should also ensure that they are taking notes and even utilising the technology that is available to record lectures so that they can be revisited. Video captioning can also be used meaning that there is a written record of the lecture.

Health Matters Too

While studying remotely allows students to have a greater degree of independence, it is important that they retain an awareness of their health. It is far too easy to see another day go by before the realisation dawns that there has been no time spent outdoors. Research strongly supports that exercise and exposure to sunlight are equally as important to physical and mental health. Students should be encouraged to engage in regular exercise and to appreciate the positive impact that this will have upon their studying.

Studying remotely also give rise to the chances of falling into poor dietary habits. Having easy access to junk foods can often prove too tempting. Students should be encouraged to limit such snacks as they are likely to lead to a decrease in attention span sometime afterwards. An awareness of foods that are healthy and can sustain energy and concentration levels (such as nuts, seeds, and fruits) is beneficial.