What I Learned About Learning

By July 17, 2020Connections

Stay-at-Home Orders Force Online Learning for Local Students

Jonah Foss

Jonah adapted to online learning when the stay-at-home order closed schools due to the coronavirus.

Learning at home is difficult. Because of the pandemic, students have had to learn how to learn again. Despite the challenges, students have gained some valuable insights into how we can better manage our time, energy, and emotions. I want to share three simple takeaways from my online learning this spring that we can all apply to our own lives.

Takeaway 1: Systems, systems, systems.
Your ability to do meaningful work is only as good as your systems. Let’s say you clean your room once a week. If you don’t change the part of you that makes that mess in the first place, you’ll end up cleaning up the same mess over and over again. To combat this waste of time, think about building effective habits using the “1% rule.” If we can get better or more efficient at a certain task by 1% every day, for 365 days, we could be 37 times better at that task by the end of the year (1.01^365=37.7). I created a small, but meaningful system of practicing touch-typing every day, improving my speed and accuracy over time.

Takeaway 2: Actively engage.
Active engagement refers to engaging in a task with full attention and meaningful intent. In contrast, passive engagement refers to a reduced engagement, frequent distractions, and a lack of intent. The easiest way to implement these ideas is to create a workplace where you can maximize the ability to be actively engaged. For me, this looks like finding a quiet room where I can close the door and sit down in front of my calendar to determine which tasks demand my attention. My smartphone stays in a place where I can’t reach it; by increasing the amount of effort to check my phone, I create a barrier to getting sidetracked from my work. Thus, I am more productive.

Takeaway 3: Enjoy the ride.
Learning online takes a toll. Schools are where students learn from others, including teachers and peers. Deprived of these interactions, many students have lost their enthusiasm for learning. One way of reducing this apathy is to take advantage of the extra time and schedule flexibility afforded by studying at home. Alleviate negativity and burnout by taking the opportunity to do something you enjoy or trying something new. I started learning German, and I am trying to run more often.

I learned many things while studying from home this spring. What I learned in my classes was just as important as what I learned about learning. For myself, I found systems are integral to productivity, active engagement maximizes learning, and taking time away can help me keep a positive outlook on learning.

As published in July 2020 Connections >>