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by Brian Thomas | September 09, 2020

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Given the current climate, remote learning has become increasingly common across higher learning institutions. While this is undoubtedly the safer option for most, many may be concerned about how learning will continue to take place. Luckily, technological advancements are making it possible for students to learn just as easily athome as they would have in the classroom. Keep reading to learn more about tech tools that may be of assistance to you during your digital schooling journey.

Audio and Video Conferencing

With previous classroom settings allowing for potentially hundreds of students to learn alongside one another, remote learning can feel lonely and isolating. Previously, most students may have completed one or two online courses throughout their undergrad years. With current situations keeping us in our homes, it might just be mom and dad in the other room rather than your usual classmates.

This doesn’t mean classes have to be lonely. It can be nice to get some face-time with your classmates and professors once in a while. Most schools have already jumped on audio and video conferencing options, such as Zoom, to provide you with the ability to set up a meeting and actually talk as if you were still in class.

On top of being able to be in a meeting with your entire class at one time, Zoom meeting hosts and attendees also have the option to share their screens and can break out into smaller focus rooms if the discussion becomes more granular. One of the lesserknown features of Zoom is the “touch-up my appearance” option which can be a real lifesaver if you didn’t have the opportunity to freshen up like you normally would prior to class!

Cloud Storage

An accessible cloud storage app you can use from any device at any time is critical when it comes to learning remotely. Cloud storage doesn’t have to be complicated, just a shared place where you can save your work. The advantage of cloud versus individual storage is that you can share your work if you’re doing group projects or turning assignments in. This way, your peers or teachers have instant access to any changes made to the project rather than having to combine everything once each person has completed their portion or have it graded separately.

Another appealing feature of cloud storage apps is that they’re often free to use, which is great for students already paying for textbooks and school fees. A commonly used app across all types of institutions is Google Drive. This app offers its users unlimited storage for photos, videos, Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Regardless of the cloud storage option you choose, be sure to select the one that keeps your documents secure. The ability to control who has access to these files is important, and for that reason, you’ll want to choose an app that provides you the option to set a password for those working out of the drive.

Screen Recording Tools

While taking notes during class is extremely beneficial for information retention, you might miss something if you’re focusing too hard on the notetaking. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could record your entire class? With a screen-recording tool like this one, you can! Screen recording makes it much easier to follow along in class and absorb what the professor is saying, since you can always revisit the lesson later.

A good screen recording app should capture what’s happening on your entire screen, including any cursor movements, as the instructor will not be in the same room as you. This also helps when it comes to discussing instructions, describing issues, or listening to assignments. A few other basic requirements for success with screen recording tools include the option to superimpose your camera, a user-friendly interface, built-in video sharing, and simultaneous video and sound.

However, please check your school's policys on screen recording: Some schools do not permit students to record their classes due to privacy and/or intellectual property reasons, so please review your school policies before recording your classes.

Focus Apps

“School from home” comes with a whole list of its own distractions, and when you pile them onto the distractions you already face as a student, it can be almost impossible to focus. Sure, there’s the regular everyday stress of time management and staying organized, but while learning remotely, you may also be dealing with the distractions that come from your family, roommates, or significant other who is home as well. Especially if these people are learning or working from home too.

If you find yourself struggling with remaining focused on a daily basis, consider an app or browser extension that blocks certain sites for a set amount of time, allowing you to put all of your concentration into the task at hand.

Doing schoolwork at a computer all day with access to the internet can be a distraction in itself. Let’s say you just happen to check your social media quickly and see that your favorite store is having a big discount sale. You can’t bear to pass up the deals, so you head to the site and check out what they’ve got to offer. Suddenly, you realize you’ve been browsing for almost 20 minutes and you’ve gotten nowhere on the homework assignment due by the end of the day. A website blocker can help in this situation by blocking the sites you find most distracting until you’ve completed your work. You can also opt for a desktop app, which will hide everything from view except the active window you’re in.

Although remote learning has been somewhat of an adjustment for all, it does not mean productivity must be compromised. While there will be trials and tribulations, of course, this does not mean that getting your education remotely is impossible. Staying organized, focused, and on task will help you manage your semester one day at a time. Try changing into different clothes instead of logging on to go to class in your pajamas. Try setting an alarm for a little earlier than usual and developing a morning routine of breakfast, maybe a workout, or even a drive to get coffee. It doesn’t have to be hard to battle the remote-learning beast.

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