How to Brave the Virtual Learning Setting

How to Brave the Virtual Learning Setting

Annelise Klopp and Leah Schmitz

As you all know, in our current situation, in-person schooling can be a challenge. That’s why Hempfield High School has graciously offered a virtual option that makes joining class from the safety of your home simple. As everyone experienced in November, when we went full virtual for a week, there are apparent pros and cons to the virtual setting. For example, while leaving early from some classes and having more freedom during the long lunch/flex periods are definite pluses to the virtual setting, staying focused and resisting distractions are much harder in the comfort of your home without teachers to hold you accountable. And, as Amy Nguyen, a junior at HHS pointed out, “There’s a plethora of things that could go wrong at any moment in time.” Whether it be technology issues, distractions caused by siblings or your phone, or even the sheer boredom and headaches that sitting still in front of an iPad all day cause—virtual learning definitely comes with its own abundance of difficulties.
No matter your opinion of virtual learning, it is a challenge we’ve all had to work through at some point, and will likely have to again sometime in the future. So, with the help of many students here at Hempfield High School, we’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of tips for virtual learning to ensure that we can all make the best of this situation!

Find a comfortable spot to do your work. Desks or dining room tables make for great surfaces to write on (but don’t join class in your bed or you might end up falling asleep)! Make sure the workspace you have created is void of distractions and is quiet. Put away your phone so you can devote your undivided attention to your classes.

Don’t be afraid to speak up! Make use of the chat feature if you’re uncomfortable unmuting yourself—that’s what it’s there for! Ask questions when you don’t understand the material, because not doing so will make learning in this virtual environment harder. As Claire McCarley, a junior here at HHS, advises, “Reaching out is the best solution. If you are having any problems ask immediately it won’t be easy for yourself if you keep your questions to yourself. ”

Troubleshoot. Technology is notoriously unreliable. We’ve all had situations when all of a sudden our teacher goes silent, or the google meet kicks us out! Students suggest using another device for google meets, charging your ipad before class (or keeping it on the charger) and being close to a wifi router. If all else fails and you can’t access your class’ meet for one reason or another, make sure to let your teacher know via Schoology message or email about why you were unable to join class.

Be prepared! Join class with all of your homework completed and have your notes/homework close by. It helps to keep a planner or notebook nearby to give you a place to write down your assignments and test dates as they come up.

Focus. Perhaps the most important factor in learning anything is how focused you are on the material. It is rare that you retain information that you hardly listened to in the first place. Focusing in your familiar home environment is even harder than doing so at school. Be sure to eliminate distractions, particularly your phone, to ensure that your full focus is on the teacher. Students suggest that keeping your camera on during class holds you accountable and helps you to stay focused.

Self motivation! Paige Dickinson, a junior at HHS suggests that, “To be a virtual student, it’s best to be very self motivated because if not it will be hard to stay on task and fall behind.” Without having your teachers right there with you, it’s easy to turn off the camera and slack off. However, not keeping up with your work could have many consequences—so staying self motivated and on top of your work is immensely important.

As a general rule: treat the virtual learning experience just like you would treat in-person school. Stay organized and motivated, and the challenges of virtual learning will be much more manageable. Let’s make 2021 a great year!