How to make the most of online learning

For most secondary school students, the first two weeks of 2021 will be spent on online learning. We all have experience of this from the first coronavirus lockdown and subsequent isolations and many are dreading going back to it.

In this post, I'm going to share some tips to help you get the most out of your online learning.

How to make the most of online learning

1. Have a good attitude

I've heard numerous parents say things like, “Online learning doesn't work for my daughter,” or, “My son can't get on with online learning.”

By saying these things, about yourself if you're a student, or about your child if you're a parent, you're turning it into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Instead of perpetuating this negative attitude, try saying something different such as:

“I'm making the best of online learning.”

“I'm learning to get along with online learning.”

“I'm getting as much as possible out of online learning.”

Choose the one above that feels like it fits you best, or make one up on your own.

You can also try asking yourself, “How can I get the most out of online learning today?”

This is all about having a growth mindset.

2. Set yourself up for success

If you have the space in your house, make sure you've got a table and chair to work at, that preferably also has some natural light.

Try to adjust your workspace so that you have a good posture. Having a good posture will help to keep you alert and focused, and it will also reduce fatigue – slouching puts stress on your body making you tired, and, in the long-term, giving you pain.

These are some tips on creating a good posture:

  • Your feet are flat on the floor
  • Your knees are almost at right-angles with your hips ever so slightly higher than your knees
  • Your back is straight
  • Your neck is straight so that you're not trying to look either up or down at your screen

You should also try to minimise distractions. You can do this by leaving your phone in another room. If you have another member of your family working at the same table, you could try to create a barrier so that you don't distract each other. During the first lockdown, one of my clients in The Extraordinaries Club created a wooden barrier so that he couldn't see his sister as they were distracting each other. You could create a stack of books, instead of a wooden barrier.

3. Before each lesson

If you know what's going to be covered in the lesson, you might like to read ahead in your textbook or look up some YouTube videos and watch them so that you have some familiarity with the subject content in advance. This will help you to develop a deeper understanding during the lesson.

4. At the start of every lesson do this…

  • Make sure you've got a glass of water by your side – staying hydrated will help your brain work
  • Make sure you're sitting up straight in a good posture – this will help you to stay alert and focused during the lesson
  • Leave your phone in another room – this will stop you from getting distracted by your friends messaging you
  • Make sure you've got any resources you need – maybe there are some worksheets your teacher has sent you, there's a specific textbook you need for this lesson, or you need pen and paper to make notes. Make sure you've got what you need.
  • Shut down all other windows on your computer – make sure there's nothing open on your computer so you can stay totally focused on the lesson you're in

5. During the lesson

During the lesson, you should be totally engaged.

  • Turn your camera on – this will mean you have to stay engaged because your teacher can see what you're doing
  • Be ready to answer the teacher's questions, and to complete the work.
  • Don't be shy to ask questions – if you don't understand something you can be almost certain that someone else is struggling too. If you're feeling shy, and your technology allows it, send a private message to your teacher asking for help.

If your friends message you about anything other than the work during the lesson, ignore them.

6. After the lesson

Straight after the lesson, you should get up and move around to refresh and energise yourself. If you have another lesson starting straight away, stand up, stretch and maybe do some quick star jumps, or jogging on the spot to get your blood moving. In longer breaks, try to get some real movement and some fresh air e.g. walking around the block, or doing a short yoga routine.

There are some ideas for active revision breaks here.

Learning wise, after the lesson it's a good idea to:

  • Read through any work or notes you completed during the lesson to make sure you understand and the information has sunk in
  • Email your teacher about anything that you still don't understand

You should always complete any ‘homework' set as well.

These things should be done at the end of the school day.

7. At the end of the school day

The most important thing for you to do when online lessons are over for the day is to take a break away from all screens, and again move your body to re-energise and awaken yourself.

Once you've done that, you can get on with any homework tasks you have.

8. Treat yourself!

Once all your work is done for the day, it's important to treat and reward yourself. Make sure you've got something planned that you'll look forward to all day. This might be video-calling your friends, watching your favourite Netflix show or gaming – it's up to you but it should be something that truly relaxes you and that you enjoy. You deserve it!

Make the most of your online learning

I hope this article has helped you to make the most of your online learning. Just remember that your education is a huge privilege that many people across the world still don't have. You have a responsibility to make the most of the education that your teachers and schools are working so hard to provide at this time – whatever form it takes – and the more you put into it the more you're going to get out of it.

Good luck!


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