Learning online requires determination: there’s no teacher keeping an eye on you and distractions just a click away. Your learning is entirely in your hands: it’s up to you to keep going. So how do you?
A good starting point is creating a pleasant environment to learn in. Here are a few recommendations that have helped the FutureLearn team with their own online learning.
1. Make space
Stacks of paper and books might look impressive, but a sudden book avalanche is a distraction at best and a hazard at worst. Make sure you have plenty of room for the device you’re learning on and an area to take notes if required. Clear your immediate working area of clutter and distractions and you should be able to improve your focus.
2. Get the temperature right
The next distraction to remove is temperature. Make sure you’re not too hot or cold. If you find yourself shivering (or sweating) over your computer at home try visiting a local library or cafe, their temperature is usually constant.
3. Adjust the lights
Like temperature, how much light you want when studying can sometimes come down to personal preference: maybe you like a room as full of natural light as possible, or maybe you prefer it cosy and dark. Either way make sure you’re able to clearly see your screen and there’s not too much glare, else you might end up with eye strain.
4. Get comfortable
If you’re using a computer for a long period of time make sure your computer is positioned appropriately and that you’re sitting appropriately. How do you do that? Read more on the NHS to find out. If you’re in an uncomfortable seat or position you’re not going to be able to focus on your studies, so try and make yourself as comfortable as possible (without falling asleep).
5. Turn up (or down) the volume
When you’re doing an online course you’re most likely going to have videos to watch, so music isn’t always useful. But if you’ve got reading to do, an assignment to write, or notes to organise it might spur you on. Work out if music helps you, and then investigate if certain genres of music are better than others. Sometimes lyrics can be distracting so try searching for lyric-free playlists (we like the Peaceful Piano and Music for Concentration playlists on Spotify).
6. Learn what works for you
Lastly, and most importantly, you need to learn what works for you. Maybe you learn best amongst clutter in the heat of the summer sun. Maybe you learn exceptionally well listening to 90s club anthems. Treat our advice as a starting point and try adjusting your environment, eventually you should find something that works for you.
Got any advice for creating a good learning environment? Tell us in the comments.