15 Strategies For Successful Digital Learning

School is almost back in session for many but this year's schedule will most likely look a lot different than previous years. While some of us will be going back to in-person classes, whether in grade school or college, many will be continuing their education online.

Flat lay of desk with a keyboard, plant, pen, and notebooks.

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Since many people's schedules and plans have been put to a halt there is a valid reason why many are not too excited or happy about having to learn in a digital classroom compared to an in-person environment. However, since school must go on, and if you are one of the ones who aren't too happy about the change in plans, there are ways to improve the digital learning experience.

If you have not been following me for a while then you would not know that I have been learning in an online environment for years. I switched to an online public school (Texas Connections Academy) halfway through my freshman year of high school and graduated from that online school in 2018. You can read the blog post about my experience here. Now being in college, I have taken most of my classes in-person but every semester I have taken at least one online class. You may be wondering why I would want to continue taking online classes for that long instead of taking the traditional route but I personally really enjoy learning digitally. Yes, I still like to go to in-person classes every now-and-then but, especially for some classes, I would prefer to do my learning online.

Since I have been digitally learning for so long and have found some useful strategies for doing so successfully, today I am going to share with you who are about to start learning online (or maybe even working from home), some strategies that will improve your digital learning success.

So, here are 15 strategies for successful digital learning.

  1. Ask for help. Whenever you get stuck on something or don't know how to do something, ask for help. It will be a much better use of your time compared to just staring at your screen hoping that you will figure it out. Your teachers or professors and even tech support are there to help you with any questions so don't be afraid to reach out while you waste your time trying to figure it out yourself.
  2. Set a schedule. This is a big one. Whenever I have a schedule set for the day I am so much more productive. Especially when learning online with deadlines and such you must have a schedule to keep yourself on track. Setting a time to start and stop isn't enough either. If you are taking multiple classes or have many tasks to complete in the day, plan a rough estimate on how long it will take so that you use your time wisely.
  3. Go to live meetings. If your class will still be offering lectures over video chat then go to them. In high school, my classes held weekly live lessons with the teacher and students, and many times I decided not to go because I didn't feel the need to and I didn't want to sit there for an hour. But, later I would realize that I should have gone because there was a lot of important information that I missed or I just didn't understand the material because I didn't go to the live lesson. So, even if your classes will be recorded try to watch them live. That way, you can immediately ask a question when you don't understand and it also gives you a chance to talk to other people once in a while, which is good to do especially during this time.
  4. Create an organized space. Creating for yourself an organized space to do all of your work makes getting work done easier because it motivates you to get out of bed and makes finding certain items easier too. Set up a desk or table space with your notebooks, writing tools, and computer and try to continually keep it clean. Trust me, you will thank me later. 
  5. Take mental and eye breaks. After you have been staring at a screen and sitting down for hours on end your body can quickly tell you that you need to move around. When you are setting up your schedule, include time for breaks to allow yourself to stand up, walk around, or work on something else for a little while.
  6. Invest in comfy accessories. Going off the fact that more than likely your day will consist of hours of sitting in front of a computer, investing in some comfy accessories can make a huge difference. Get yourself a chair that you will be comfortable in and maybe some screen glasses as well. I personally use the Gamma Ray Optics screen glasses that you can check out here. I have dry eye and I feel like they do help lessen eye strain. If you have eye or back problems as well, then making sure you sit up straight and use the right accessories is crucial.
  7. Change up the scenery. Go on a walk, go to a park (if you are able), or just move to a different table in the house occasionally. Sometimes I get tired of sitting in the same space every day so I will move to a different spot for a day or two. It helps to keep me motivated and it is nice to not stare at the same thing every day.
  8. Turn off distractions. This is a big one. Turning off distractions can be the factor that makes your day productive or unproductive. In fact, as I am writing this I have my phone sitting next to me, and I'm not going to lie and say that I am not tempted to endlessly scroll out of habit. I heard somewhere (don't quote me on this) that just having your phone in view can lessen your ability to focus because you may be subconsciously thinking about it. So, moving your phone out of view and turning on do not disturb can tremendously help with getting your stuff done. But, don't get me wrong your phone is not the only thing that can be a distraction. Your siblings being loud or having a TV on in the background can have the same negative effect. Music is another thing that can either help or hurt you. I recommend choosing your music wisely so that it helps you focus instead of vying for your attention.
  9. Keep track of deadlines. It can be easy to accidentally forget an important deadline. Something that has helped me tremendously is having my planner (which can be virtual or physical) and adding every important date to it on the first day of class. Now, since I am in college I have the luxury of having my semester planned out at the beginning but even in grade school taking the time to add in a due date the first moment that you learn about it can be the simple task that keeps you from missing an assignment.
  10. Utilize online tools. You are online right? So, why not take advantage of online tools? There are so many free (and paid) tools online that can dramatically help with whatever task you are working on. Now, I'm not saying cheat or do something that is against the rules but if you are stuck on a problem and need help, there are many Youtube videos and other educational resources that can help you in many subjects. There are also other tools such as planning programs and checklists that can improve your workflow. I love using an app called Notability that allows me to take notes on my iPad with my Apple Pencil. I actually wrote a post about how I do that so, if you want to learn more about it, you can read that post here. Overall, doing your work online is a plus because you have easier access to different kinds of tools that you might not have had access to before.
  11. Find an accountability partner. Do you have a friend or adult that is also having to work or learn at home? Then help keep each other accountable by calling them out anytime they are doing something counterproductive like spending extra time on their phone or maybe taking too long of a lunch break *guilty*. Or, just checking in on them by calling or chatting. If you both help each other out, you will be more motivated knowing that someone is doing the same thing.
  12. Pretend like you are in class. When you go to class or work do you go wearing your pajamas and sit on your phone? I hope not. Think about what you do when you are in class or at work and implement those same habits at home. For example, get ready, focus, and be mentally ready for the day ahead.
  13. Stop when it is off-time. This is something I personally struggle with a lot because a lot of times it will be 5:30 pm and I will think to myself "If I just finish one more task then I will feel a lot better". But, then I will later look at the clock and it will already be 9 pm and my evening would be gone. So, take it from me: stop when it is stopping time and stick to your schedule. Your brain and back need a break.
  14. Invest in capable technology. It is not cool when a task that should take you thirty minutes to complete actually takes you two hours because your computer started acting up and wasn't loading. If you are planning on working full technology-dependent days then let this be your sign: get capable technology that will do what you need it too. I have a 2015 MacBook Air and love it. It does everything I need it to and with a few upgrades that I got, it has never given me any problems. It definitely helps me check more things off my to-do list and keeps me sane when I don't have to stare at an endless loading bar.
  15. Find motivation. This last point is the most important one. When you do school online you don't have someone looking over your shoulder and telling you what to do unlike what you may have in class. So, what that means is that the only person that can make you do what you need to do is guess who: YOU! It's no surprise that doing work online requires motivation. If you struggle with finding motivation then do whatever you can to find it because putting it bluntly: you will not succeed if you don't have the motivation to complete your work. But, if you do your best and implement strategies like these, you will have a much better chance of doing well because you will be ultimately setting yourself up for success from the beginning.

Are you learning digitally this coming semester? What strategies do you think will be most effective? Let me know in the comments below! ♥

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