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Creating Your Own Informal Learning Environment

April 7, 2020

By John Wiggins, Director, Services & Quality Improvement

Year after year, we hear the same sentiment from students, regardless of age, area of study or degree program: there is something special about the library where students focus better when amidst others who have the same intentions.

With the campus closed due to COVID-19 and all classes being held remotely, Drexel students (as well as teaching faculty and staff) are looking for new ways to replicate their campus experience from their homes. This means finding—and in many cases, creating—informal learning environments that mimic in your own home that special something the Drexel Libraries provides. 

With so many distractions—on the news, social media and in your new working and learning environments—it can be challenging to find the right studying and learning conditions. I’ve drawn from the elements we look at when investigating and planning changes to the Libraries’ informal learning environments to help you create your ideal home study environment while you participate in remote classes.

Stay in the Zone

Some of the Libraries’ informal learning environments are designed to passively keep your focus “in the zone.” In the recent renovation of the W. W. Hagerty Library’s first floor, this included translucent dividers on the long, white tables, as well as the higher walls on the new study cubicles and the design of the red study chairs that blocks peripheral vision to eliminate distractions.

What you can do at home: particularly if your home is busy with many people staying in, try to find a smaller space near a window where you can keep your back to those passing by. Keep your study area free of clutter and set out only what you need for the task you plan on tackling. If you live alone, you may have more options; best to establish an area that is solely for focusing on coursework so that your mind and emotions recognize the cue that you’re ready to focus.

Study “Alongside” Others

In many places where people go to do work—cafes, bookstores, and especially libraries—seeing and being among others who are also focused on their own work can inspire us to keep focused. Recreate a shared table or a group study room environment similar to those in the Libraries by connecting with a friend via FaceTime, Skype, or other platforms to share a virtual commitment to remaining focused on your individual work. Schedule breaks together to get recharged and enjoy some social time while remaining safely at home. And if you have friends in the same course, of course, where appropriate you can still “meet” to study together to help each other learn.

Refresh Your Mind

This unprecedented time can be stressful with so many changes, including the change for many to having all classes taught remotely. Make sure you step away from your computer regularly and enjoy a different activity to recharge. Depending on which campus library you frequented, your options may have included a refreshing walk inside or outside, a trip to a food truck, or even a work-out in the gym. At home, identify first what helps you refresh your mind and plan ahead on how to engage that activity so that you can return your focus afterwards to studying.

For more information about the Drexel Libraries’ remote services and access to electronic resources, visit our website.