COVID-19 means most high-school and college students are attending school virtually, attending classes on Zoom, and doing their homework alone at home instead of at school in study hall. During such strange times, many of these students will fall behind in their educations. Online education, for the most part, has not been a success.
But in general, this fall, things are better than they were last spring. Teachers, now not thrown into the fire at a moment’s notice, have been better prepared. Schools have better systems, with fewer periods per day and more time with instruction. But last spring did teach us all some valuable lessons about how students can thrive with remote learning.
Keys to Success With Remote Learning
Maintain a Regular Schedule
It’s easy with remote learning for students to let their schedules slide to a point where they are asleep most of the day and awake all night. These kinds of irregular schedules make it very hard to stay on track with school.
Khan Academy has a suggested daily schedule for students in each class, and these can be a starting point. The most important thing, since each district and school has a different routine, is to stick to the same routine you would if you were attending school in person.
Develop an Online Study Pod
The biggest challenge with online education is the way that days fade into one another. The lack of a routine, with all the daily activities – clubs, sports, events – that create a sense of time and place, can cause teens to fall behind. So if you can, reach out to a few friends and set up an online study pod: a group of friends who meet online at the same time each day to work on homework or assignments together.
Look for Multiple Sources
Paying attention and learning during long Zoom sessions is hard, and it isn’t the best way to learn anything. So find alternate sources of information:
- Khan Academy has videos on almost every subject you can learn in high school.
- Libretexts has free online textbooks for many subjects.
- Gilder Lehrman has excellent tools to teach American History.
- GreatSchools has a wonderful list of books students can and should read. They also have lists of vocabulary words organized by grade, which can help with English classes and standardized tests.
- PBS Learning Media has videos on many topics for high school students.
Using resources other than what your teacher uses can feel confusing, but taking charge of your education is both liberating and empowering for students. As the great physicist Richard Feynman said, “Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.”
Learn by Teaching
As many educators do, Feynman also believed that you learn something most deeply by teaching it to others. The process of explaining something to another student forces one to face the gaps in our knowledge. So many students are creating youtube videos and other resources for others to learn.
Here are some examples from students we have worked with at LifeLaunchr:
- AP Deconstructed helps students understand many AP topics.
- On-the-Spot STEM focuses on helping students who are interested in advanced science and math.
Other students tutor peers or younger students through organizations like Quaranteens, which offers tutoring for free.
These projects can help you learn better, but they are also immensely valuable in college admission.
The mentoring relationships students develop with teachers are essential when students need letters of recommendation and help in their college admissions process. One casualty of remote learning can be that students don’t develop these connections. To overcome this challenge, be proactive. As your teachers for additional material when they cover topics in which you are interested. Then follow up and let them know what you learned.
Share Your Experiences
We’ve tried here to put together some ideas and resources that are helpful. But we also want to know what has worked and what hasn’t, for you. So drop us a line and let us know! And if you have questions, you can always ask us, or schedule a free consultation. These are challenging times, and the best way for us to get through them is to get through together.