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Optimizing Your Online Learning Environment

At the start of the pandemic, many students found the idea of studying from the comfort of their own homes appealing. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to have a learning-friendly environment at home. Students may often find themselves tuning into class in a noisy home environment, having poor connection issues, not having enough study space, huddled over a bright computer screen in a dark area, or even tuning in to class while in bed. Although it's nice to be still able to have access to education while being remote, it's essential to maintain a focused environment, so you are still getting the most out of your education.

But what can you do to improve your learning environment? I will provide a list of six tips, that are easy to get! You can use to create a focused study environment for students like you, learning remotely for the first time.


1. Quite Location: The first tip would be to find a quiet area in the house away from main activities. I would suggest avoiding places like the dining room, living room, family room, kitchen, and doorways. If one of the rooms in the house often goes unused, you could ask your parents to use that room to study. If one of your parents has an office they use, you can request to share that space and schedule to use it during your classes. However, if you cannot find a quiet area to study at home, students often go to their local library and find a place to study there. Some libraries even allow people to reserve private study rooms in advance.

2. Wi-Fi Network: In addition to having a quiet area to study, sometimes connection issues can become stressful and distracting when trying to connect to live virtual classrooms. However, if you frequently experience connection issues at home, you can always go to your local public library and use their public Wi-Fi network to connect to class.

3. Avoid Clutter: A clean work surface is always better than a cluttered desk. A cluttered room means you have less space to study, but it can also be distracting when trying to participate in class. If there are too many things like pens, pencils, papers, and other devices within grasp, you might unconsciously grab them and start playing with them. Before you know it, you have just missed an important lesson in the basics of matrices. Make sure to clean your surface, put away anything that might become distracting, put your devices on, do not disturb, and even better, just put them away so you won't be tempted by any distracting thoughts that come even just by looking at your phones or tablets.

4. Proper Lighting: Another vital aspect of your study space that is often overlooked is how bright or dark the room is. Studies have shown that studying next to windows that let in natural light from the outside improves people's mood and enhances learning.

5. Avoid Windows: It is a common yet surprisingly accepted misconception that studying next to windows is distracting and damaging to a student's quality of learning. In fact, locking students in a dark, windowless room with no natural light hinders their learning more. It is essential to study in a well-lit environment, not just so your professors can see you when you're in class but also to improve your own learning experience and keep you engaged in class.

6. Away from Bedroom: Finally, as tempting as it is to connect to your online class from the comfort of your bed, it is very damaging to you, not just physically on your spine or in terms of learning, but it can also impact your quality of sleep and your mood. Associating your bed with being in class will make you less engaged in class, causing you to lose focus, and make sleeping in your bed more exhausting because you've associated laying in your bed with studying and sleeping. The best thing to separate your sleep and relaxing environment from your study environment. Try to attend classes and study in a separate room that isn't your bedroom, and make sure to sit upright at a desk, like you would in a normal class setting. Sitting on a couch won't be helpful since your posture is still likely to slouch into a relaxing position that will cause your mind to wander.


Summing up

Altogether, even when studying remotely, it is still important that you take on the responsibility to cultivate your focused learning environment. I hope these six tips I have provided today will help you get started or guide you towards creating that environment for yourself in whatever situation you may be in. Feel free to share your tips for creating a healthy remote learning study environment in the comments if you think I missed any in this article; I would love to get a discussion going to help those out there who may be in a similar position!

Author: Christina Duan, Case Western Reserve University.