Getting The Most Out Of Learning Remotely

Reducing Distractions

  • Turn off computer and phone notifications during work hours.
  • Consider using Self-Control apps during the times you have scheduled for class and work. Some examples include Block Site for Chrome, SelfControl for Mac, Freedom for FireFox, Hocus Focus for Mac, FocusMe for Windows/Mac.
  • Work in short bursts with a clear goal. The Pomodoro technique is one method you can use. In its simplest form, the Pomodoro technique involves, first, deciding on a task you want to get done and, second, setting a timer for 25 minutes of work on that task followed by a 5-minute break and repeating that cycle three or four times before taking a longer break (e.g., 30 to 60 minutes).
  • Create an incentive system where you reward yourself for finishing tasks with small treats or fun breaks.
  • Try interleaving, or switching between different topics you're studying. Research shows that interleaving is better for memory than focusing on one topic for hours; the variation can also help you stay attentive for longer.
  • Keep your workspace tidy so you aren't tempted to procrastinate with cleaning.

Staying Engaged by Being Engaged

  • When attending your Zoom class, take notes just as you would when you are there in person. Do not depend on yourself to re-listen to the recorded lecture later to take notes or to jog your memory.
  • If you are watching a recorded lecture, watch it at normal speed. If you cannot resist the temptation, do not go beyond 25% compression. Research shows that students’ ability to learn information drops significantly somewhere between 25% and 50% compression.
  • When attending a Zoom class or watching a recorded lecture, focus on that one activity. Do not be tempted to multitask (e.g., do not try to attend class and do the daily crossword or watch a lecture and check your email). We all think we are good at multitasking, but we are not. Instead of multitasking, we are simply switching our attention between tasks, and that results in wasting time, making mistakes, and remembering less.

Maintaining and Creating Social Supports

  • The requirements of social distancing mean that many of us won’t be allowed to meet up with others in person for the foreseeable future. Your courses are a great way to combat the resulting sense of isolation! Try to see lectures and study groups as opportunities to have enriching social connections.
  • It’s important to find ways to engage in social interactions with your classmates when your classes go online. You might have to make that happen since some classes may not immediately provide such interaction. If you are in a discussion-based class and aren’t getting the opportunity to talk, try asking your professor to experiment with smaller discussions in breakout rooms. Research shows that maintaining social interactions is associated with the effectiveness and enjoyment of online classes.
  • Schedule online study groups to complement your independent work.
  • Head over to the ARC Workshops page to sign up to participate in ARC Accountability Groups or Power Hours. Set goals with your peers and do focused work at the same time!
  • Use the ARC Scheduler or Tutor Matcher to meet with a Peer Tutor via Zoom to review course material, prepare for an exam or practice concepts. 
  • Schedule chat times with friends as rewards for work completed or intentional breaks in the day.