Many people entering the hugely popular world of online learning underestimate many of the challenges they will encounter. Obviously, online and distance learning differs in many significant ways from traditional classroom learning. All of your school work, in “class” and otherwise, is completed on your own time and in your own designated work space.

For many individuals new to the world of online education, the open learning environment is one of the most difficult things to adjust to. Your environment and surroundings play a huge role in how successful your learning experience will be. Adjusting your learning needs to an area that is not a classroom can be a challenge for many individuals who are accustomed to working in a traditional classroom environment. While it will no doubt be challenging to adjust to, there are several things you can do to create a successful online learning environment and routine within your own home.

Designate a Space

Firstly, choose an area within your home that will be your “classroom”. It is important that you find an area that is conducive to studying and can be dedicated solely to this purpose. While this may be hard within smaller apartments and homes, it is essential that you have a space where only work takes place. When you enter this space, your mind and body should recognize that it is time for serious thinking and work. Find a space that is separate from all of the major traffic areas in your home. You will need an area that gets strong natural light and is spacious enough for you to work comfortably.

Though many people like to do their school work at their kitchen table or in front of their television, it is best to pick a spot that can be used only for studying. Try to keep your leisure activities and your academic endeavors in separate areas of your home. Finding a spot that encourages concentration and focus is the most important aspect of online learning.

Eliminate Online Distractions

Online learning environmentWhile working away from any distractions that might take place within your physical environment is important, it is just as important to eliminate any distractions that might pop up elsewhere while you are studying. Online education relies on computers and computer technology to succeed. In this way, it is essential that you have a computer that works flawlessly.

Furthermore, with the internet playing an integral part in an online learner’s education, it is important to avoid distraction online as well. As a distance learner, your computer is as much a part of your learning environment as the home “classroom” you create. However, the internet is full of endless distractions. With millions of websites available and tons of interesting things vying for your attention online, it can be a great struggle to stay on task and stay focused when working on your computer. Work to keep your computer organized and working well. Regular computer maintenance is essential for online learners.

Set a Consistent Schedule

Another difficult aspect of the online learning environment is adjusting to devising your own study and class schedule. For many online programs, there are not designated times that you have to “attend” class online, but rather a certain number of hours you have to reach each day, week, or semester. Of course, this varies depending on the school, class, and field of study, but for the most part the study schedule is self-determined.

For this reason, it is important for online learners to devise a personalized work schedule that they commit to. A lot of individuals who really struggle with online classes do so because they cannot learn to effectively manage their own time. Set up a schedule that takes into account all of your daily responsibilities and be sure to follow that schedule fairly strictly.