No matter how many jobs or programs move to online platforms, eLearning never gets easier. Online learning distractions are all over the place.
Here are the top distractions for college students and their fixes.
“Stay off the internet,” while sometimes helpful advice, is impossible when taking online classes. But you can use technology to your advantage to stop you from tabbing over to Twitter or Reddit in the middle of an assignment.
Many browsers have focus extensions to prevent you from opening time-wasting sites. You can input specific URLs that trigger a pop-up to keep you from visiting those websites.
Some extensions make you enter a password; others make you fill out lengthy questionnaires to make sure you really want to visit Instagram.
You can download similar apps for your phone if you find it easy to pick up and start scrolling. Many phones now have integrated screen time restrictions to keep you focused.
When you set up one of these site blockers, give the extension or app password to a friend or family member. This will keep you from typing in the password and seeing what your friends are doing.
While your friends and family can be helpful accountability partners, they can also be your worst enemy when you're trying to focus.
If you’re trying to study, rope your friends and family into it. Make agreements, bets, or challenges to hold each other accountable. Work in the same space or in a video call so you can keep track of each other.
On the other hand, if they’re the ones distracting you instead of your social media feed, let them know. Talking to them about what you need to stay focused will help establish those relationship barriers.
To reinforce those boundaries, close the door to your workspace, put your phone on silent, establish a “no-contact” time or let them know when you will be available.
One family member you can’t talk to about boundaries is your pet. They need to go out, play, or be stimulated, or they may tear up your furniture.
If you have a project to focus on or an online assignment with a time limit, ask someone you trust to look after your pet for a little bit. Even if you want your pet to keep you company while you finish your work, you’ll never get there if they keep being cute and distracting.
Online learning relies on the internet, but not every website or source is made to be user-friendly. Pop-ups, ads, or simply poor design can make learning nearly impossible.
Again, website extensions are your best friend. Some ad-blockers can eliminate the distracting junk that may clutter your screen.
Another way to make navigating websites easier is to use a text-only or reader-mode extension. These extensions convert web pages into text, making them distraction-free and easy to read.
Reading on a screen can be hard on your eyes. Some people have difficulties reading and find it easier to learn by hearing.
Your device can read text out loud through a built-in screen reader or a third-party program or extension. Reading along to a screen-reader can even improve your retention and focus throughout your work.
Many problems with eLearning have electronic fixes. You can’t fight fire with fire, but you can fight digital distractions with digital tools. And while there’s no app to keep your dog from interrupting, a little extra communication and changes to your surroundings can prepare you for real-world distractions.
Julie Campos is the Senior Director of Operations and Student Success at MedCerts. She brings over 14 years of experience in Online Higher Education in both Student Support and Enrollment and started her career at the University of Phoenix, serving most of her tenure as a student-facing leader.
Julie has her Bachelors of Liberal Arts in Political Science from the University of Texas at El Paso, and her Masters in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. Her areas of expertise are student support in online higher education environments and working with nontraditional students. At MedCerts, she is focused on creating a pro-active student central support model for MedCerts students to reach their goals and has developed the MedCerts Student Support and Outreach Model, created MedCerts Student Success Advisor reports and Dashboards, as well as the Student Success Advisor Playbook. Her proactive approach to student support has been crucial in meeting MedCerts’ student’s needs, as well as completion and certification goals.
Julie has three children – a 10-year-old son and 12- and 4-year-old daughters, who keep her and her husband busy with sports. She is also an avid crafter with an entire room of her home dedicated to the hobby. In her free time, she enjoys teaching wreath making and even has a few “how-to” YouTube videos on the subject!