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How to get set up for distance learning

How to get set up for distance learning.

What is distance learning?

Some qualifications can be gained by completing them online, rather than attending lectures and seminars in person. There are lots of reasons that people choose to study remotely, but perhaps you're required to start your upcoming course at home whilst COVID-19 safety measures are still in place.

Getting the right tech

Workplace with computer monitor on table in office.

Your tech checklist:

  • Laptop or desktop: Make sure you have a PC that's suitable for your studies. Need help choosing? Visit our guide.
  • A good internet connection: Is your Wi-Fi up to scratch? Find out more about setting up and strengthening your network here.
  • Monitor: An essential for desktop PCs, and helpful if you want to connect your laptop to a bigger screen.
  • Mouse & keyboard: Adding these to a laptop can help make your setup more comfortable.
  • Printer: Would it be helpful to have hard copies of your essays and lecture notes? If so you'll need a printer.
Student learning using laptops and headphones in a cafe.

Setting up for video calls

Will you need to attend online seminars, meetings or groups sessions? Most modern laptops or netbooks have an inbuilt webcam, but if you're working from a desktop, or your laptop doesn't have a camera, you can plug in an external webcam. You can plug in a headset to make calls clear and comfortable.

Girl working on Intuos Comfort Plus PB Medium Graphics Table and Mac as desk.

Does your course have any specific tech requirements?

Check with your course department to see if they recommend any PC specifications, software or additional pieces of tech to support your studies. Some creative courses may require a higher spec PC, or drawing tablet for example. Take a look at this guide for some pointers.

Setting up your home office

Argos Home leather faced ergonomic office chair in an office space.

Carving out a space to study

It's important to create a distraction-free zone that you feel comfortable working in. This can include;

  • A desk: Choose a style that fits your space, style and storage needs.
  • An office chair: Make sure it has the level of support and cushioning you need.
  • Office storage: Keep your notes, books and essays organised.
  • Plants: Real or faux, feel the benefits of some mood-boosting greenery.
  • Desk lighting: Illuminate your work space.
Office set up in a small space.

Looking for a small space solution?

There are lots of space-savvy furniture styles that can help you squeeze in a productive (and petite) home office. For inspiration, visit our guide to small study spaces.

Ergonomic. Wrong and correct sitting posture

What is ergonomic furniture?

Even if you don't have existing joint or muscular pain, an unsupportive chair or desk can be uncomfortable and may lead to health issues. Ergonomic furniture is designed to provide specific support; find out more here.

Tips for staying productive

Easily distracted? Here are three of our favourite ways to stay focused, but there are lots of helpful apps and resources online too.

Home office organised.

Stay organised

Before you start your course set up your study space with folders and storage boxes. These will help you keep course notes and resources organised, and help clear your workspace from clutter.

Noise cancelling headphones on desk.

Noise cancelling headphones

Many people find playing music through noise cancelling headphones a great way to zone out of any surrounding distractions. Just make sure the music isn't distracting you - try listening to foreign music.

Memo board stuck up on office wall.

Create a schedule and stick to it

It can help to have a work schedule. Plan out your day or week on your computer, phone, journal or on a whiteboard, and tick off tasks as you go. Wellbeing is really important, so schedule in lunch, tea breaks and even exercise to break up your day.