Guide to Distance Learning

Guide to Distance Learning for Private School Students

By Maureen Leming

If we asked you to describe a classroom just a few months ago, your mind would probably leap to a room filled with desks, a whiteboard, open books, and the voices of students and teachers.

But we’re in the midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020. 

The faces of your classmates may be a little more pixelated on your screen, and your teacher is likely conducting lessons over video software. 

Remote learning can be tough for some students. Staying focused, managing your time,  and prioritizing classwork can be tough when you’re not in the midst of a lively campus of students.

In this distance learning how-to guide, we'll explore ways that students can make the most of distance learning and how this period of remote education may actually help students in the real world one day!

What Is Distance Learning?

Distance learning is any type of remote education that doesn't involve regular face-to-face interactions with a teacher in a physical classroom. This has become the key term used to describe education during COVID-19.

Luckily, Internet access has made distance learning accessible for us, connecting students across the country and even across the globe.

Distance learning looks a little different for every school and even for every class. Some common forms of remote education include video conferencing, where teachers and students can interact in real-time through digital live lessons. 

Teachers may also record lectures for students to watch independently. 

Distance learning can happen either on a fixed-schedule — much like it would in a brick-and-mortar school — or on a more flexible open schedule system.

How Is Distance Learning Affecting Students?

The unexpected transition to distance learning due to Coronavirus has changed the school dynamic for students, teachers, parents, and administrators alike. 

These changes span from an upheaval in our day-to-day schedule, to a more impactful shift in the way we interact with our peers and teachers. 

As students move temporarily from a physical classroom to digital education, they are having to adapt to brand new approaches to learning.

Many students are taking on added responsibility and tapping into new levels of self-discipline in order to succeed academically. While both teachers and parents are going above and beyond to provide help and structure, there's ultimately a bigger responsibility placed on each student. 

Without the structure of a brick-and-mortar school schedule, students are responsible for avoiding distractions, participating in online video lessons, completing their assignments, and communicating with their teachers. This dynamic can teach students valuable life skills that will aid them as they prepare to enter the real world.

How Students Can Take Advantage of a Remote Learning Environment

While a remote learning environment may provide unique challenges, it also opens up a world of opportunity. If you choose to focus on the positives of distance learning, you may be amazed by how much you grow and learn in just a short period of time. 

The Hun School of Princeton encourages you to make the most of this time during distance learning. You can take advantage of your situation in the following ways — and these tips are just to get you started. 

If you have other creative ideas about how to make distance learning work well, we would love to hear them!]

1. Find New Interests

If you’re shy, or you’re just looking for new ways to fill in the extra time at home, remote learning can push you out of your comfort zone and encourage you to try new things! 

Clubs are likely still meeting, but virtually! Additionally, there are probably new clubs forming that you can explore. 

Remote learning has also encouraged more communication of student interests with teachers. Teachers are looking for ways to keep students engaged, which poses a great opportunity for students to share feedback on what interests they’d like to explore.

For example, Hun’s music teacher started a segment for his students called “Teach Me Anything.” With ideas coming straight from students, he has committed himself to learning about whatever the students are interested in so that he can keep them engaged during remote learning. 

2. Communicate With Teachers

Your teachers may not be physically in front of you every day, but they are as committed to your education as ever. They are likely just a phone call, email, or video conference away. 

If your teacher holds digital office hours, take advantage of that time, and check in with any questions or concerns you have. 

You might find that distance learning actually gives you more opportunity and time to ask for help than in a traditional classroom.

3. Participate in Class

Whether you're usually the class clown or prefer to quietly listen, remote learning environments bring everybody to the same starting line. 

Each student is learning and adjusting to a new classroom style — so now is the perfect time to challenge yourself. 

When appropriate, use this opportunity to participate, share your experiences, and speak up in class. An engaged attitude will enhance your learning and liven up the virtual classroom dynamic while encouraging other students to feel comfortable participating as well.

4. Use Your Extra Time

Distance learning can save you a significant amount of time each day. Without a daily commute, lag time between classes, and extracurricular commitments, you've likely got more time than ever on your plate. 

Make the most of this time to really dive into learning and produce your best work yet. This is your opportunity to shine, whether by sharpening a new skill, studying diligently for a test, or writing a truly top-notch research paper. 

While you're in school mode, we recommend setting up a study space and sticking to a regular routine to help you save time and avoid distractions!

Benefits of Remote Learning for the Real World

Your distance learning situation may be temporary — but the skills you're learning can last a lifetime. Remote learning has many benefits that will translate to the in-person classroom and help prepare you for college. The following benefits will keep you steps ahead in the real world:

  • Creativity: As a distance learner, you often have to think outside the box. Completing excellent projects with limited resources can be tricky — but an innovative approach will keep you ready to tackle any challenges that come your way. 
  • Work ethic: In the real world, there's nobody telling you to wake up at a certain time, put your phone away, or structure your to-do's a certain way. Remote learning challenges students to take responsibility for their work and stay productive even with surrounding distractions. This independent self-discipline will pay off once you're back in the classroom, starting your freshman year of college, and working your first job!
  • Technology skills: Your experience with distance learning will doubtless teach you important technology and online research skills. These skills will help keep you sharp and make it easier to tap into digital resources while you're studying or working.
  • Intentional communication: When you're learning online, written communication becomes more important than ever. Instead of asking questions and sharing information in person, you're likely using a combination of emails, chat rooms, and video conferencing. This experience can help you communicate clearly and concisely in a digital world — a skill that will come in handy when you're emailing professors and employers down the road.
  • Time Management: Whether you have a set class schedule or a completely flexible one, remote learning allows you to practice the extremely valuable and hard to master skill of time management. Prioritize your week, break down projects into small tasks and know when to take a break to maximize your efficiency!

Discover More About The Hun School of Princeton

The Hun School of Princeton provides an excellent education in Princeton, New Jersey. 

We are a supportive community of project-based, innovative learners with a focus on developing the real-world skills and diverse experiences needed to thrive. 

We are currently conducting virtual learning through the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year and view this as an opportunity to pull together as a community and embrace the benefits of distance learning. Parents and students alike are finding value in our remote learning schedule, though we hope to get students back to the campus soon! 

Interested in learning more about The Hun School? 

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