Remote office setups when done right can really make online learning easier. Photo credit: Zainab Almehdar

Distance learning in a spot designated for school leads to academic success, according to UTEP Connect, a university based in El Paso, Texas that specializes in online programs.

That’s because, according to UTEP Connect, having too many options on how, when and where to study makes online learning more difficult. In other words, students learning remotely who want to be successful need to set up a study corner – and stick with it.

Gina Mouchet is a graduate of Algonquin College’s early childhood education program and is now getting her bachelor of education degree at the University of Ottawa. In the daytime, she converts her dining room table into her office.

“My workspace currently includes the table in our living/dining room and one of our side tables where I keep all of my school supplies,” Mouchet said. Staying organized is important to her because she has to store her supplies on the side table or bookshelf when her family eats. “When I am doing school work, I usually take up half of the space on the table.”

Mouchet has only received a few grades this semester, but she is currently maintaining a status as an A student.

Michael Van Gaal, a computer engineering student, is completing his co-op placement remotely. He works at a long desk which he shares with his significant other, Martin Grant.

“To keep my desk organized I recently bought a drawer system that acts as desk legs on my side of the desk,” Van Gaal said. “I keep all of my cables and hard drives in it to keep as much as possible off of the desk.”

He keeps his space uncluttered by putting stuff away as soon as he’s used it and going wireless as much as possible.

Van Gaal has added plants to his workplace and an espresso machine.

“I drink a lot of coffee during the day,” he said. “It makes it feel a bit more like a school/office environment. It helps me not feel like I am always at home even though I am.”

Though his office environment is about to get a bit of a personal touch as the pandemic continues.

“I recently decided to paint one of the walls in my office space to brighten up the room,” Van Gaal said. “I think it helps a lot with making the space feel more personal. I have always been apprehensive about painting in rental properties but the pandemic made me cave because all the white walls made it feel really closed.”

Meghan Garrioch studied concept art and digital painting at Algonquin College, taking three different programs in her time there. She is now a part-time instructor at the college with the General Arts and Sciences Faculty. She teaches life drawing and an intro to photoshop for digital painting and creative thinking for design class.

Meghan Garrioch's home workspace.
Meghan Garrioch's home workspace. Photo credit: Meghan Garrioch

As part of the school staff she had her own office space but like students she is now working from home.

“I try and keep it organized as best I can,” Garrioch said. “The messier it is, the more likely I am to get distracted.”

According to Garrioch, it was beneficial to her mental health to keep her workspace clean. It helps her with her lessons.

“I try to make sure I have a clear space to record lessons or teach live that I can easily transition to from my usual studio work setup,” Garrioch said. “It took awhile to make everything functional, but now that it is, I also find it much easier to keep things tidy.”

Garrioch has decorated her workspace so that it fits her tastes.

“I have a lot of cool art up on the walls to remind me of my goals and to motivate me,” she said. “I also have a little couch on the other side of the room for a bit of a break area. I need a lot of short breaks, so being able to cross the room is enough of a disconnect if I keep a cozy spot reserved.”