Now you're an online learner, what to do with your "extra" time

Posted on June 04 2020

Online learner's desk setup.

One of the things that many students recognize when they start taking classes online is that even if they’re working just as hard to master the course content, they suddenly have a lot of time in their day.  

Why is that? Because a lot of a traditional school day is spent doing things beyond learning. It’s moving from class to class. It’s making small talk with teachers at the beginning of class. It’s doodling on your notebook as the teacher helps someone else. It’s listening to the teacher when they are suddenly struck by a question or idea that takes the class on a different path than what was planned. It’s chatting with friends as class is winding down. 

We want to be clear: None of these things makes traditional school a bad thing. These activities are not a waste of a student’s time. Students learn important things about life, build social interactions, and develop deeper knowledge from these parts of a school day. So, when those parts of the day are gone, what should you do? Recreate them! 

That’s right, effective time management goes beyond your online course scheduling. We think you should try to find ways to fill your extra time doing some of the below:

  • Exercise to replace the walks from class to class.
  • Unexpected social interactions to substitute the type that comes from an unplanned interaction with a friend at lunch.
  • Small talk to fill in for the kind you might share with teachers and friends at the start of class.
  • Developing deeper knowledge to compensate for the sort that comes from talking to someone who is an expert in a subject like a teacher or guidance counselor 

How do you do this?

  • Go on walks! Take five minutes every hour to get up from wherever you are working, pick up your stuff, and walk around for a bit. Greet neighbors. Make small talk with people you don’t know. 
  • Call a friend! Take 10 or 15 minutes every few hours to give a friend a call. Mention something you’ve learned -- they might just have an idea about it that you wouldn’t have considered. 
  • Reach out to your teachers! Utilize office hours, if those are available, and email or messaging to dive deeper into the material.
  • Take an extra class! No! Really! You’d be amazed at the effect of taking just one extra class. By adding a little extra learning to your day, you’ll build stronger connections to other material and build a better understanding of the world. You’ll also soon find yourself “ahead of the game,” and that’s a really amazing feeling, because when life throws a challenge in your direction, you won’t be as stressed. You would be surprised at how much you can accomplish with an effective time management strategy!

Try these things out and let us know how it goes. We’re confident that once you start using this time to benefit yourself as an online learner, you’ll never want to stop.