Remote Learning: Tips for Students

Even during the best of times, learning remotely is difficult. Now, when routines are disrupted and our normal structures are dismantled, we have an additional burden. Here are a few tips to help you adjust and succeed through these challenges.

Stay up-to-date with Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Resources.

Remote learning provides a lot of flexibility, but it can be challenging to keep up with varying demands. You may find it helpful to set goals that keep you motivated and engaged with course materials on a consistent basis.

Consider scheduling time to engage with course materials, activities, your instructors, and your classmates. Develop a simple system that helps you keep track of important dates. If you need to share space or technology tools with members of your household, consider developing a schedule for that as well. Checklists, tables, or calendars can help to set a schedule for specific work. Choose a method that is simple and easy for you to update or share with household members who may also need any shared spaces or devices.

Avoid the temptation to multitask. Multiple devices can pull your attention away from the task at hand, reducing your cognitive capacity. Consider limiting the number of tabs you have open or the number of notifications you receive while you’re studying and engaging with your course.

Visit the Weingarten Learning Resources Center’s Resources for Remote Learning to

find tips for structuring unstructured time and other helpful remote learning strategies.

Find ways to reduce distractions. You may need to be creative when finding a place that makes it easier to concentrate while you study and engage in your course. If space is limited, and you’re sharing with household members, consider using a white noise app with a set of headphones or earbuds. You may also wish to develop a schedule for sharing the space or any necessary equipment like a laptop.

Creating a space is also a mental exercise: tell your family and friends you will be working for the next hour, turn off notifications on your devices, and close multiple browser tabs. Then breathe and start to work.

We are all missing the face-to-face interactions central to our vibrant Penn community. Even while social distancing, we need to stay in touch with family, friends, classmates, TAs, and professors. Consider visiting your professor's office hours and leveraging chat tools, video calls, or email to check in with classmates and continue collaborations.

Consider forming or joining study groups to help you stay engaged with your course. If you do not have a group or aren't sure how to get started, consider asking your professor or TA to help organize one.

Many professors are using email to provide guidance on how courses will run for the remainder of the term. You may receive course materials, instructions for completing coursework, or invitations to real-time videoconferencing sessions. Note any changes to due dates and tasks and provide any requested information.

Professors may also use Canvas as a way to communicate, provide course materials, and participate in activities such as discussions. Stay on top of changes in your Canvas course by adjusting your notifications preferences. You have several options for receiving notifications including sending them to an additional email address, receiving them via text, and enabling push notifications in the Canvas Student app (iOS or Android).

Notifications are custom to you and all settings apply to all of your courses in Canvas.

Recommendations for setting Canvas notifications

Set to Notify me right away

  • Due Date (assignment due date changes)

  • Announcement (new announcements)
  • Grading (a grade is entered)
  • Invitation (web conference, group, collaboration, and peer review)

Many of the tools your professors might use will work best if you apply operating system updates and download the latest versions of commonly used browsers. Keeping your system up-to-date helps to minimize technical issues.

If you experience difficulties or don’t think you’ll be able to access or use a technology tool, let your professor or TAs know right away. Give them the information they need so they can support your learning and progress. Find additional support by reaching out to Student Remote IT Support.

Some tools require reliable, high-speed internet. If you don’t have access to reliable internet or unlimited data, Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile may offer an option appropriate for you.

Consider reviewing Canvas’s basic computer specifications and supported browsers and downloading the Canvas Student app on your iOS or Android device.

Be patient with yourself as you adjust to learning remotely. Get in touch with your professors and TAs if you run into challenges and know that it’s ok to ask for extensions. Penn offers a range of resources that you can call on during this challenging time.

Student Services at Penn

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Writing Center

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Counseling & Psychological Services

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Student Remote IT Support

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Student Policies and other FAQs

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