Student-to-student: seven distance learning tips from seniors


Connie Ryu

Students have adapted and personalized their workspaces to what works best for them in distance learning.

Connie Ryu, Team Leader

Now a few weeks into the 2020-2021 school year, Jefferson students are adjusting to distance learning full-time daily. As they do so, they are discovering ways to personalize their school days and fit their daily needs in the new online learning environment. A guide to adjusting, seven seniors share some tips that are helping them stay successful and start the new school year strongly. 

With distance learning, a large concern about the physical health of students and staff arises because they may be sitting at a desk and working all day for long hours, which may in actuality lead to ineffective learning. Matthew Hwang suggests getting your blood pumped to keep your brain going and engaged during classes.

“Make sure you stay active,” Hwang said. “Go outside and walk around during break time. Your brain needs the refresh!”

Another physical worry that many teachers and students share as we plan to continue virtual learning for the near future is screen fatigue. To this, Alexandra Friedman recommends an item I’ve noticed several other peers show interest in as well — blue light glasses.

“Staring at a screen for the first week started to give me headaches, so I ordered myself a pair off of Amazon and now I’m not nearly as groggy. Also, they make me look smarter in breakout rooms,” Friedman said jokingly.

With no in-person learning, students are finding it difficult to get to know and converse with classmates in their classes, and not having these peer-to-peer interactions make the school day feel more dreary. Yeaeun Chung gave a tip that many teachers have been suggesting to get to know their students better and encourage collaborative thinking.

“Try turning on your video whenever you can during breakout rooms and small discussions to help you connect better with classmates!” Chung said.

With each student taking at least seven courses, this already automatically means there are at least seven different forms of communication between the teacher and their class. Some teachers may use Google Classroom or Blackboard, or even both. While one-by-one this seems underwhelming, it is easy for students to forget to submit an assignment on time or miss an email in their growing inbox pile. After experiencing this last spring, Mallika Khati has found a way to keep herself organized. 

“Everyone has something different that works for them, but I use an app called Todoist,” Khati said. “It’s nice because I can see my deadlines and work accordingly.”

Besides the overwhelming work assigned from different platforms, students must also keep all of their Blackboard Collaborate meeting links in an organized manner for them to quickly access. Some solutions include making a separate Google Doc or using the Sticky Notes application on Macs. Senior Muhurto Rahman shares a shortcut that he finds helpful.

“Bookmark all of your Blackboard Collaborate links into a bookmarked folder on Google Chrome so they’re all in one place,” Rahman said. 

With so many new things happening at once, Anthony Wong and Veronica Wong each share something that has helped them try to feel “normal” despite the situation.

“Waking up early and still getting ready, like I normally would for in-person school, really helps, because it helps my body and brain wake up,” Anthony Wong said.

Not being able to socialize and vent with friends during lunch time or passing time is also one of the setbacks of distance learning, but Veronica Wong tries to think from a more positive perspective.

“Learning has been a little bit impersonal, but I love connecting and working with my friends over FaceTime, trying to make the best of this inevitable situation,” Veronica Wong said.

Although there are inevitable limitations in distance learning, the featured Jefferson seniors have each maintained an optimistic and productive mindset in order to conclude their high school careers on a strong note, and they would like to reassure other students that it is okay to feel overwhelmed and reach out for help. We are all learning how to adjust to distance learning together.