If you are doing distance learning for the first time, you’re probably wondering how to maximize your new virtual education. Upper Echelon Academy (UEA) offers advice based on years of experience teaching online, year-round students. Here are three UEA strategies that will help you succeed with virtual learning:
1. Make your schedule as routine as your horse’s warm-up. (Your horse thrives in a routine and so will you.)
UEA student Maggie Hill says, “The best part of online school is the flexibility--I can juggle a demanding course load with my packed riding and show schedule.” Online school gives students the ability to individualize their schedules. Successful students prioritize schoolwork, and stick to a planned schedule to maximize their success both in and out of the ring.
Setting aside specific times each day to complete schoolwork allows students to find a balance between riding and academics and to focus on the task at hand. In UEA’s program, students have set meetings with their tutors along with weekly administrative check-ins to ensure they stay on track. Virtual learning offers freedom, but requires responsibility and discipline.
2. Create a dedicated work space. You can relax on the trails, but the show ring is all business.
UEA instructs students to establish a specific place for school. This could be a desk in the student’s room, the dining room table, or a corner of the barn office.
Marielle Babington explains, “Before working with UEA, I didn’t have a schedule or a set place to do my work.” It’s important to establish a focused place for studying at home or at the barn. “Moving my schoolwork to home was tricky,” says Marielle. “I realized that I needed to work in a less relaxing environment than my bedroom, so I set up my school space on the patio.”
Just like the schedule, the work space of virtual school can be flexible. Moving your work space in the middle of long sessions is an option. While a change of scenery can improve focus, don’t lose sight of the importance of having a distraction-free “home base” where most schoolwork will take place.
3. Have the right tools for success. To jump a successful round, you need the right equipment and support. To succeed in distance learning, leverage technology and communicate with teachers and peers.
UEA’s year-round students keep virtual meetings just as productive as face-to-face sessions with instructional technology. UEA student Teddi Pritzker points out that “when working online, the tutors use a shared virtual whiteboard. The technology we use makes subjects like math very simple to learn, even when we are not meeting in the same space.”
Students master important material by communicating with teachers, tutors, and peers. UEA students meet online in small group classes in order to ask questions and discuss ideas with friends. Technology offers many ways to collaborate.
Moving to virtual learning is a big adjustment. UEA admissions advisor Natalie Picot explains that students who work virtually gain the valuable skill of metacognition, a better understanding of themselves as learners. Natalie emphasizes, “Our year-round online students have more independence and responsibility for their own schoolwork, and this translates into a successful transition to the college years.”
As an added benefit, individualized education can be completed in only a few focused hours each day, allowing more time in the saddle. Through implementing UEA’s strategies for success, students can return to the classroom with better study habits, increased independence, and an improved balance between schoolwork and riding.