How to Stay Productive and Thrive as a Remote Learner

The coronavirus is changing lives all over the world. For students, it involves a huge shift in how you learn and attend school. As you settle into this new reality, we’re sharing some tips and advice to help you through this transition.

The most important thing to remember is you are not alone. Everyone at Champlain—from your professors to the Student Engagement Team—is here to support you.

We know you might be feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and confused. You may be angry and sad, mourning the loss of your on-campus experiences. Know it’s okay to feel those things. Focus on the present and let go of anything you can’t control. Be kind to yourself and patient with others. This current crisis is unprecedented and scary, but it will pass with time. Imagine how you will feel when you can finally see your friends and give them a big hug.

Please reach out if you have questions or need to talk to someone. We’ll provide some useful information here and a list of contacts for anything that might come up. We are here to support you in any way we can. You can do this, Champlain. After all, our motto is audeamus—let us dare!

Everyone is rooting for you during this shift to remote learning.

Set Up Your Home Classroom

Thanks to our friends and colleagues at Champlain College Online (CCO)—who wrote the book on online learning—we have some insider tips for remote learners. CCO recommends finding a dedicated space that can become your “home classroom” while you’re away from campus.

Gather your materials in one place and try to withdraw from everything else so you can study and complete assignments without being interrupted. We know that’s not as easy as it sounds. Everyone who lives with you is forced inside too. Try to set boundaries and communicate your schedule and expectations to everyone in your household.

Claim a quiet spot where you can study and complete assignments without being interrupted.

Stick to a Schedule

Scott Kelly, the astronaut who spent a year in space, recently offered some awesome advice on dealing with isolation. His number one tip? Follow a schedule. “Maintaining a plan will help you and your family adjust to a different work and home life environment,” says Kelly. When he returned to Earth, Kelly missed the Space Station’s rigorous schedule and found it hard to live without it.

So make a schedule that works for you and keep to it. Our CCO colleagues say self-discipline is key, especially when you’re not attending classes at set times in a physical classroom. You’ll need to block off time for your classes just as you would if you were on campus, and minimize distractions to ensure you’re getting your work done.

Block off time for your classes just as you would if you were on campus.

Get Organized

Champlain’s SMART Space team created a handy list of tips and tasks to get you organized, and, trust us, crossing things off a list when you’re feeling overwhelmed is really satisfying:

  1. Are you an early riser or a night owl? Create a routine based on when are you most focused and alert. Online learning is tremendously helpful for students who need to fit school into their busy schedules, but it’s also an incredible tool for unusual situations like the one we find ourselves in today. Take that flexibility and make it work for you.
  2. Use your Google calendar to schedule your time. Haven’t set up your Google calendar? Check out this video.
  3. Link your Canvas calendar to your Google calendar, so you can easily view all of your assignments. See how it works in this video.  
  4. Consider adding study times to your calendar with specific class priorities and deadlines. Spend a few minutes on Sundays to map out your week and add reminders in case you get distracted.
  5. Do your best to stick to your schedule. If things come up, as they often do, readjust and make a new plan. This will take some trial and error, but you can do it. 

Find more time-management strategies on SMART Space’s website and keep checking off those lists!

Creating lists and checking things off may give you a sense of accomplishment when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Lean On Coaches and Tutors

Although the physical offices and labs in the SMART Space (Academic Support & Coaching Services) are closed, their services are available online. You can make an appointment with an Academic Coach or a Peer Tutor through their online scheduling system TutorTrac.

Need help right away? Online academic support is available 24/7 through Smarthinking. For more information, visit the SMART Space website, email smartspace@champlain.edu, or call Lauren Bruneau, Director of Academic Support & Coaching Services, at (802) 865-6422.

Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Add Academic Coaches and Peer Tutors to your education arsenal!

Connect and Communicate

“The history of communication is the history of power,” says Champlain’s Associate Professor of Communication Dr. Cheryl Casey. Communication is that important! So seize some power, raise your voice, and stay connected. By keeping engaged, you can maintain a semblance of the community you had on campus.

Here are a few ideas for reaching out:

  • Keep in touch with your professors and advisors through their remote office hours.
  • Participate in Google Hangouts, and see how you can otherwise connect with your class.
  • Check in remotely with clubs and organizations.
  • Take advantage of virtual events which will soon be posted right here on The View.
  • Stay in touch with your friends at Champlain by calling, texting, or connecting on Instagram, Snapchat, or Discord. Ask them how they’re holding up. Tell them you’re thinking of them. They will appreciate hearing from you.
It’s important to stay in touch with professors, staff, classmates, and friends. People will be grateful for your check-ins and glad to hear from you.

Get to Know Your Strengths and Skills

Yes, this experience is incredibly challenging, but it’s also an opportunity to reflect on your strengths and develop new skills. Almost overnight, people around the world have become experts in Google Hangouts and Zoom.

Now is a perfect time to reflect on your learning style and tailor your approach to suit your needs:

  • If you learn best through conversation—by asking questions and listening to others—engage in Google Hangouts or participate in class discussions through Canvas.  
  • If you learn best through project-based work—by doing and experiencing or trial and error—make sure you’re assigned group projects with the support of Canvas. You will be able to test out a new approach to learning and connect with people in a different way.  

We hope you will embrace remote learning as a way to grow and develop in the digital age. A vast amount of work happens virtually, particularly in fields like cybersecurity and digital forensics. Remote learning will prepare you for these industries in new and exciting ways.

Take this time to reflect on your learning style and get to know your strengths and skills.

Take Care of Yourself

Your wellbeing should be a top priority, too. It’s hard to focus on school when you neglect your personal needs. Try to follow these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for staying healthy and managing stress:

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. Set up times to meet with your Champlain friends online.

Add these activities to your Google calendar and make time for them. Taking care of yourself is just as important as completing your school work. 

Take care of yourself and maintain healthy habits during this stressful time.

Get Outside

Some of us have been advised to stay indoors, but if you can get outside—go for a walk and experience nature. Breathe in some fresh air. Exercise if you can.

Be like Chauncey and stay active.

Find Help When You Need It

It’s okay if you don’t have it all figured out. This is a huge transition, and you need to give yourself a minute to process everything and adjust.

There are plenty of people ready to help you keep focused and learning while you’re at home. Seek support when you need it from any of the services listed below.

Academic Support

Health & Wellness

Student Affairs

Compass Student Services

Champlain Socials

All photos by Ryan Bent ’08 // Ryan Bent Photography.

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