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Your Go-to Guide For Remote Learning

A few months ago the words remote learning may have had an oxymoronic ring to it. You may have had reservations about the medium not lending itself too well to learning. The pandemic, however, pretty much put those reservations to rest, as the world embraced a remote way of life.

Now the question is not if, but how you can make remote learning work.

The rules are a mix of dos and don’ts, which are as follows:

First, the Dos
Bandwidth and the internet

First things first, get a good internet connection. Make sure you understand your bandwidth requirements and invest in a good internet connection. You may need to take stock of the usage of people around you to understand what you need. The last thing you want is to get dropped off mid-session. So this is not the place to cut corners.

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Participate and interact

At the best (read most normal) of times, participation is key to learning. It forces you to articulate your question and think about what you’re asking, or responding to. In a virtual setting, this becomes critical. Train yourself to interact and participate in discussions, be it asking a simple question, or answering one.

Prepare your questions

It’s a good idea to have your questions ready after every discussion. Active questioning forces us to analyze arguments, explore various perspectives and become open-minded in decision making. The more we question, the more we discover options we have to solve our problems. However, asking questions is a skill, and in a remote setting, that skill has to be honed even more.

Keep a schedule

While some courses are live sessions, others allow you to attend pre-recorded sessions in your convenient time. And while this allows you the freedom to attend the classes when you like, it’s important to maintain a daily schedule, so you don’t lose track meet your goals. A simple time-table can help you manage your time and stay organised.

Leave the devices out of the room

You may believe that you are not distracted by a mobile phone, and that may be true, but it’s still not a good idea to keep it near you while you are in a class. You would not have done it had you been in a face-to-face class, so why do it now? Sitting in a room by yourself is hard and the temptation to text or ask someone a question can get the better of you – remember, these are extraordinary circumstances, so you may give in to distractions easily.
As a habit, keep devices out of the room. It will help in your overall productivity and attention.

Take frequent breaks

Staring at a screen for hours, sitting in one place can be extremely tiring, and cause a big strain for your eyes and posture. As a rule, take ten minute breaks every hour or so and longer breaks after classes. You will be able to focus and absorb the lessons better when you do this. In a remote setting, it is easy to lose track of time, so set alarms if needed to remind you that it’s time for a break.

Also, if possible try and step out of your room – into a balcony, a verandas – whatever little fresh air you can get, when you take these mini breaks.  Again, had you been on campus you would have walked around to get to your classes, so get a little air when you can. It will help you learn better.

Take extra care of your eyes

Prolonged use of the screen can have harmful effects on your eyes. You could develop CVS, or Computer Vision Syndrome. This includes a range of discomforts caused due to strain on the eyes. Realistically speaking, you may not be able to reduce screen time in a remote learning setting, so here are a few things you can do to lessen the strain.

  • Use adequate lighting
    If you can, then avoid working under bright fluorescent lights. Try and use lamp that for indirect and softer lighting.
  • Use anti glare for your screen
  • Adjust your brightness and contrast settings on your computer
  • Use high-resolution screen technology
  • Blink (yes, we forget to do that)
  • Look away every 10-15 minutes for two minutes
  • When possible, look out the window into the distance – this is a superb exercise for your eye muscles. If you can do that, cover your face with your palms, block all light and look into the darkness (like you’re looking into eternity).
  • Go for regular eye-check ups
Eat regular meals and not at your desk

The one thing good about being home while learning is that you can eat home-cooked meals. Schedule your breaks in a way that you get adequate time to eat your meals properly. Try and avoid the temptation to eat at your desk – even if it is to unwind and watch something you like. If your breaks are also going to be at your desk, you won’t get
away from the screen at all.

Connect with friends

One of the biggest disadvantages of online learning is the loss of meeting one’s friends. Sitting in a room can be extremely lonely, so it’s important to speak to your friends regularly. Whether you call to discuss a class paper or just to catch up, you should connect with your tribe.

Some hygiene points to keep in mind
  • Mute your microphone
    This should be one of the first things on your checklist before you join any session. Muting your microphone when you are not speaking or contributing to the discussion ensures that any background noise is being cut out. Using a noise-cancelling headphone is a good idea.
  • Keep your video on – unless otherwise asked
    This shows respect to your teacher and also makes you participate better. When you know you’re visible, you tend to be better groomed and focus more.
  • Don’t interrupt
    When participating in a discussion, wait for someone to finish making a point
    before making yours. In a remote setting you have to be sensitive to other’s ideas and also know when to speak. Usually the instructor sets the rules, so follow these
Now for the Don’ts
Don’t make every room your study room

Just because you are learning from home doesn’t mean that you make anywhere your study room. Maintain a dedicated study room where you can concentrate and stay clear from distractions. For instance, a room away from loud TV noise, or a loud cafeteria, or one that is prone to getting more noise or people, etc. If you do not have enough space to have a separate study room, try and find a quiet corner away from the noise.

Don’t take your classes from your bed

Tempting as it may sound to roll out of bed and into your laptop, this is a complete no-no.
You should try and do all that you would if you had regular classes. You can wear comfortable clothes, but taking classes from your bed will make you lethargic and less prone to focus. Also, it’s terrible for your posture. Your laptop should be on a desk and your screen should preferably be at your eye level.

Don’t be late

As obvious as this may sound, this needs a little reinforcing in a remote learning environment. Being on time is one action, which might be construed as not respecting your professor’s time and effort. If you are having connectivity issues, try informing the teacher or another classmate you can put in an explanation for you

Useful Tools for Remote Learning

The great thing about living in a digital age is that there are tech solutions for most things. Here are a few apps that can be useful in remote learning. You’ll be able to find most of these apps in the browser extensions.

Screen recording

Screencastify

Sometimes during live sessions, it’s hard to fully grasp what’s being taught. You may want to save the lectures or the presentation for later reference. So, to record the video (screen), you can use helpful tools like Screencastify where you can screen record, edit and share the video. However, this is something that your teacher and other classmates should be aware of, so inform or ask before doing so.

Nimbus

Nimbus is another such app that lets you record the screen, capture the full page of a web page, edit screenshots and share it.

Also, if you have a Mac, you don’t need to install an external software. You can screen using QuickTime. Here’s a link to the Apple site that explains it real quick.

Reminders and bookmarking

Todoist

You no longer have to worry about missing out on reading materials that were set for the next day’s session. Apps like Todoist makes things easier, as it lets you save articles (from the web), lets you define due dates, and prioritize tasks accordingly.

Evernote

When it comes to saving things – here’s a great app. Evernote web clipper lets you save things you have read on the internet, assign tags and even access it from any other device. The fact that whenever you save a webpage or a URL, the app saves it with a short description, makes it easy to glance through.

Proofreading

Grammarly

Not that you should rely on an app to fix your grammar, but it’s a good idea run it through one, or have one installed – so it can prompt you in case you missed something. Grammarly is a popular grammar-checking app that automatically suggests corrections for grammar, punctuation and spellings. However, don’t take its suggestions blindly. There are times when it makes erroneous suggestions, so always check if the recommendation is accurate.

ProWritingAid 

Prowritingaid is another grammar-checking app that suggests errors, from spellings to tone and style of writing. It also recommends better terminology. Like Grammarly, it also corrects punctuation and tries to make your content look sharp. Again, use with caution.

Make the Most of It

Remote learning may or may not be the ideal way for you to learn right now. But the truth is that it’s been a lifesaver during the pandemic and we are not sure when things will normalize again. Also, chances are that the new normal would bring with it a hybrid way of learning – a mix of online and offline. So, it’ll fare you well to incorporate the suggestions given above in your daily routine of remote learning. Make a habit of them, so you can benefit and get the best of what’s being taught to you.

Date added
24.07.2020

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