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Remote Learning

It can be quite a shift from on-campus instruction to remote learning as one tries to juggle the commitments and requirements of class, life, work, etc. We understand and are with you in developing this new skill set for remote learning.

Below are five ways to succeed as a Whitworth student in the online environment, to stay on track, and to maintain your learning, grades and connection to campus from afar.

  • Figure out what's what, one class at a time.

    Build your time management system (whether paper planner, calendar app or hybrid) and be sure to focus your energy on one class at a time.

    Here's a helpful checklist:

    • Is my class still meeting at certain days and times each week?
      • If so, put that in your schedule. If not, consider designating specific times to work on each class daily/weekly.
      • If you can't make that time, ask the instructor if there is an alternative mode of participation.
    • How are instructors going to stay in contact? Is it through Blackboard messages, WebEx, Zoom, direct email, etc.?
      • If you can, download the Blackboard app, and set yourself up with any other media being used. Prepare your device for the content and communications you're going to need.
      • Check email and Blackboard daily! Work it into your new routine so it becomes a habit.
    • When are things due?
      • You may have new due dates so schedule everything, including both larger assignments (papers, projects, exams) and smaller assignments (problems sets, reading responses, discussion comments).
      • Consider a checklist as a central organizer for all your daily/weekly due dates, readings, discussion posts, etc.
    • Use the calendar function on a device or an app to send you automatic reminders for due dates.
      • Try adding push notifications for Blackboard. This can help you stay on track and up-to-date.
    • Check out the "Time Management and Organization" section of the Tips for Success webpage we've created.
    • Think of online learning like a race. You can let off the gas if you're doing too much, but it can be impossible to cross the finish line if you've been idling for long periods of time. Start strong!
  • Build your new daily work plan.

    Figure out the when's and how's of this new routine. Below are some things to consider while you set up a new normal.

    When will you do this work?

    • Schedule your study and work sessions in the calendar format of your choice. You can get ideas on our Tips for Success webpage.
    • Try to stick to a daily routine when possible. Even if your professor isn't asking you to Zoom in for that 8:30 a.m. lecture, you will benefit from keeping a regular schedule – waking up at the same time each day, roughly sticking to regular mealtimes, maintaining exercise, taking timely breaks, etc.

    Where will you do it?

    • Find your best space for concentration…and internet connection. Options outside of your home are likely limited, but you might look for special deals from internet service providers for free access, hotspots and other resources.
    • Things to consider that will make your space more cohesive for learning:
      • Noise-canceling headphones
      • Playlists designed for focusing
      • Temporary partitions (such as hanging up a sheet)
      • Good lighting
      • "Do Not Disturb" mode for your phone
      • Limits on the apps that distract you the most (iOS and Android)
    • Find a place where you will be comfortable, but not too comfortable.
      • For example, you may want to save the bed for a designated naptime.
      • Working near a window is also good for your mental health, but if you can't focus near a window, try finding a good in-between.
    • What software/supplies do you need? Gather all of the supplies you need in one place and have them accessible.

    Know when to tune in and tune out.

    • You'll be spending a lot of time online, and your eyes and head (and heart) will need a break! If your favorite pastimes involve screens, it might be time to dust off your old board games, go shoot some hoops or bake some cookies. Give yourself plenty of time to unplug from screens.
    • Check out the student success webpage for Tips for Success and to learn what departments are continuing to offer Academic Tutoring & Resources.
  • Use some science. Follow a plan and get more out of your learning.

    43 percent or so of our daily behaviors are essentially automated and habitual – what we might call our "default settings." This is partly why adjusting to recent circumstances may feel difficult, as many of our routines are disrupted. As you work on setting your new plan into action, try these ideas:

    • Map your routine to the Power of Habit.
      • Try working on specific courses in the same room, at the same desk, at the same time each day. Consider starting by opening your book or checking Blackboard. Then reward yourself at the end – perhaps with a snack, some online browsing or a walk around the block.
      • Try piggybacking or stacking/chaining, where you insert a new academic habit alongside a daily task. If you regularly do laundry once a week, read several chapters while the load is going.
    • Tweak your environment by playing with friction.
      • Decrease friction to make it easier to start. If you want to go jogging first thing in the morning to get going, put your running clothes by the bed.
      • Increase friction to make it easier to stop. If you'll be working on another computer, after you've used your phone to authenticate/login to university systems online, try powering it down completely and hiding it in another room. Or, if working on your phone, keep only those apps open that you need at that moment.
    • Try the 50/10 rule. Marathon studying has diminishing returns. Instead, break studying up with planned breaks to increase efficiency.

    You can also maximize even the briefest chunks of time in your newly unpredictable schedule. Start with these Study Tips from Whitworth's Student Success.

    • Eat that frog.
      • The "frog" is your most difficult exam, project or concept. Start by tackling that to build momentum and grow your confidence.
      • Turn big frogs into little ones by dividing them into steps and spacing them out. This lowers stress and is one of the most powerful ways to study and learn.
    • Say it out loud.
      • Be the teacher: Explain your studies to yourself, your high school brother, your teddy bear – whoever is around you right now. Verbally process what this concept means. How does it work and why?
      • This is a way of testing what you understand, another "most powerful" way of learning. Look for those extra online practice tests and try some flashcard apps.
  • Take care of yourself and treat yourself like a person you love.

    You're not just a brain. You're a person who feels things and needs support, encouragement and nurturing. Below are some tips for caring for yourself and others during this time.

    Remember that you are not alone.

    Students worldwide are asking the same questions and struggling with the same interruptions to their lives. Share what you've learned with others and support those in your distance-learning communities. This is a weird time for you and everyone around you, and it's important that we come together and get through this stronger.

    Find ways to manage stress.

    Getting adequate sleep, exercise, nutrition, hydration and time outside are fantastic tools for stress management. They also all affect each other, impacting your learning, the way you feel in general and the way you react to adverse circumstances. It's all connected.

    Follow up on resources if you're having trouble with food insecurity.

    If you are in Spokane and near Whitworth, fill out a Help-A-Pirate application for meal assistance.

    If you are outside Spokane, consider checking for resources in your state. If your home has younger siblings, many school districts have drive-up lunch and breakfast services. Check your local school district website.

    Look for daily ways to find joy.

    On top of meeting those basic needs, look for daily ways to be happy, express kindness and gratitude, or just take a break! The Greater Good Science Center has lots of ideas for activities that can help encourage you and bring positivity into your life.

    Connect spiritually.

    Our chapel is providing a daily word of the day (Sh'ma) via their Instagram: @whitworthcampusministries. Additionally, many churches are posting worship services and messages online in place of Sunday services. Check in with the church you attend.

    Practice grace.

    The situation you're in is new and complicated, and you didn't have much time to prepare for it. Have patience with yourself – you'll probably make some mistakes. If you do, learn the art of self-compassion. Give yourself a break and practice grace; this is new to all of us. Be aware of what a tough time this is and remember, again, that you're not alone.

  • Keep connecting with people.

    This might be one of the most difficult parts about this moment in time, but also one of the most important. There's a real connection between your health and social connection. Research shows that social connection is one of the most powerful predictors of mental health, emotional regulation and even physical well-being.

    Here are just a few ways to keep connected with your friends, professors and peers:

    • Talk with the people closest to you about what you will need to continue to make this a successful school experience under these conditions. Ask them what they might need from you.
    • Reach out to classmates. Use a chat in the course or even form a group on some other platform to share tips and info, catch up, or just talk about what's going on.
    • Collaborate with your peers through virtual means and use the "say it out loud" study strategy to explain concepts to test your understanding.
    • Make a note of any online help sessions and go to them – not just for you, but to reach out to others who might need your expertise.

    Work to stay in touch with the people closest to you, whether that be friends or family. Even though we know social distancing is incredibly important right now, it can still be hard. Apps like Marco PoloVoxer or WhatsApp can help you stay connected with friends and loved ones across distances and time zones. Do the best you can and have patience with yourself and others.

    Focus on what you can control, take good care of yourself and do what you can to care for others. We are all in this together.