How to Make the Most Out of Online Learning

Learning a skill takes focus, persistence and patience and learning a skill online poses its own challenges, but if you approach it with the proper attitude and materials you will be successful!

  1. Your Technology
    1. Check with your teacher about what apps you will need. For our online dance classes we use Google Meet (meet.google.com) and Google Classroom to share assignments, videos and feedback. On a laptop or computer simply type the URL in your browser, on a phone or iPad, download the app. 
    2. Ask what browser works best. For Google Meet and Google Classroom, Chrome is best. Make sure your browser is updated to the most recent version with any helpful extensions installed (Google Meet grid extension is helpful if using a laptop or computer). If you need help or don’t have access to reliable internet, ask your school or studio/music teacher or company providing the online experience. They may have equipment you can borrow or may know of resources in your community that provide tablets or hotspots. 
    3. Familiarize yourself with the applications. Log in 10-15 minutes early to make sure your camera and microphone are working properly and troubleshoot any problems. At our studio we always have a staff member logged in to each class to help with any issues or questions that come up.  
    4. It is often helpful to switch the view of your screen to a sidebar or grid view if possible (sometimes these options are not available on phone or tablet) with your teacher “pinned”. This will put their image largest on your screen. Remember to mute yourself unless you have been asked to unmute. 
  1. Your Space
    1. If you are enrolled in an academic class, make sure you have a clean work surface and a good chair in a well lit space. 
    2. For a dance class, you need as much space as you can create, clean and uncluttered, so you can move freely without fear of tripping or bumping into furniture. It is best if the light source is above or behind the camera. Placing the camera facing a window or bright lamp can put you in shadow and make it difficult for the teacher to see what you are doing. 
    3. A smooth surface is best, wood, tile or carpet. Ask your teacher what footwear is best: bare feet, ballet shoes, jazz shoes or sneakers. 
    4. If you are taking a tap class you will also need a hard surface to tap on. A plywood board works well over most any household flooring. 
    5. If you’re taking a ballet class you may need a barre. A chair can work fine, or you can construct a barre from PVC piping or wood. Some companies sell small ballet barres for the home as well. 
    6. If you have the time and resources and want to go all out, check out this article for tips on creating your own home dance studio: https://www.tututix.com/building-a-home-dance-studio/
  1. What to Wear
    1. I find it helpful, when working online from home to behave as if I am still working outside the home. I set an alarm, get dressed, eat a good breakfast and then begin my work day. It helps to be in the right frame of mind. While working or  attending school in your pajamas is fun I find it much too  easy to crawl back into bed. 
    2. For a dance class, follow the standard dress code that would be required for an in studio class. Every studio usually has its own class wear requirements and can often order whatever you need. At Arts in Motion each level has a required leotard color and type of tights/leggings and shoes. Hair should be up and away from the face and jewelry should be removed. Your teacher needs to be able to see your alignment and placement to be sure that you are practicing correctly and safely and this is extra important when viewing your progress through a screen.  
    3. Just as it would be inappropriate to eat during an in studio dance class, so too it is inappropriate to eat during an online dance class. Have a small snack 15-20 minutes before class so you have energy and make sure to have a water bottle nearby as well. 
  1. How to Maintain Focus
    1. Learning from home can present distractions. Siblings, pets and other household noise can draw our attention away from the task at hand. Do your best to minimize interruptions perhaps by posting a schedule in a central location so everyone knows when classes are occurring. 
    2. I like to take a moment before joining an online classroom, to take a few deep breaths and prepare myself, setting an intention for the experience I am about to have, such as “today I will learn that turn combination and increase my straddle stretch”. 
    3. When a teacher gives a general correction, assume it applies to you. 
    4. Ask questions and keep the comments only about dance class. Your teacher will probably give you time to chat at the beginning or end of class so you can share your personal stories then.  
    5. Your teacher should give you short breaks during class to drink water or just breathe for a moment. These breaks can serve as a time to look away from the screen, blink and rest. 
    6. After class, take some notes about what you learned, what was fun about class that day and something you noticed a friend in class achieved. Post those notes in the google classroom so you can continue to connect with your dance friends even though we are separated for the time being.  

I hope these tips will help you navigate the challenges and opportunities of online learning. We are extremely lucky to have the technology to keep learning and growing despite not being able to gather together, so let’s make the most of it!