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Learning from home
(without the 😭🤬😨)

Your home is a fantastic place. It's full of all the stuff you love and all your favourite foods. But what happens if something changed and you were made to stay home. Like with COVID-19. Then your home would become a very different place.

Don't worry, we can help.

Written by Adam Horne
March 19, 2020

At Berghs, we've got lots of experience in delivering action-based learning in all kinds of contexts. Today we'd love to share some of our best tips on how you can make education happen at home - without going crazy.

Your mind needs your body

Unless you're in total lockdown, we strongly recommend you get outside in a safe way at least once or twice a day.

It's amazing how a 20-minute walk, or a 30-minute run, can really clear the head. And if you can, it's even better if you can do it at the start of the day. It will help you get some psychological distance as you move from breakfast-mode to learning-mode.

You're not a cyborg. For your brain to work, your body needs to get some work too.

But if you are really in lockdown at home, firstly we're sorry, and we hope everything is OK, and secondly, there's a whole lot of physical activity you do in your home. Some of our team swear by online yoga, mindfulness apps, and the 7-minute workout. Either way, work up a bit of a sweat, and you'll learn better, feel, and sleep better. And your relationships at home will be better too. There's that...

Have a promiscuous brain

Of course we think that our online classes are really good. But we’d also encourage you to explore the vast world of free online education.

It’s crazy just what you can study. Think of it like a side-hustle for your curiosity. You don’t need to commit to a PhD when you can just tickle your brain with the Introduction to Psychology from Yale University. 

And we don’t expect you to live with Sharks to better understand them. But enrolling in Sharks! Global Biodiversity, Biology, and Conservation from Cornell University might be good fun.

Studying multiple disciples at once is like a force-multiplier. You create amazing connections between worlds of human knowledge. It can certainly give you an edge in your career.

And you might feel better about yourself than if you hung out on Twitch or Instagram all day. Your call.

Be prepared

If your usual classes have moved online, there are a few things that you need to extend into the online world. Like being prepared.

No one likes the person who walks into class late with some lame excuse. It's the same with an online class.

So check your video and sound settings, so you look and sound good. And make sure nothing is distracting in the background (a stuffed zebra is OK, an unmade bed - not so good).

Go to the bathroom and have a cup of your favourite hot or cold drink (we recommend non-alcoholic beverages), and you're good to go!

You're not watching TV

Online learning sessions work best when there are the right interactions at the right time. 

So just like being in the same room as others, it's good to use your own body language to signal how you feel. That way if you look a bit confused, your instructor will quickly notice and intuitively explain some of the finer details - just like in real life.

Also, like in a physical group, your class is a whole lot richer if you ask questions and find other ways to drive the conversations. It will be more exciting and enlightening for everyone. Just try and keep it on topic.

So be brave. Ask questions. Be bold. It makes it better for everyone if you don't call into passive TV mode.

Keep your space

Hopefully, you live in a giant castle where you can turn an entire wing into a cathedral of educational excellence. But you're more likely to live in an apartment where all of the rooms are already busy. Let's say this is more typical among the Berghs team too.

It's important to do things to your environment that signals that you're moving in and out learning mode. 

That can be as simple as only using your favourite coffee cup when you're learning, or clearing the kitchen table and playing a bit of jazz in the background.

Keeping set hours can be something beneficial for some people to maintain a delineation between home and study. Scheduling breaks and a set lunchtime can also work effectively. 

Another great tip is to use one web browser for your personal stuff, and another web browser for study. You'll quickly develop a pavlovian response that helps move your focus between life mode and study mode. Plus it can save you from having to log in and out all the time. 

Find the conversation

Digital platforms give you unprecedented access to the people at the pointy end of the field you're studying. 

If you're a writer, you're just one tweet away from Stephen Fry. If you're a marketer, you’re just an Insta DM from Gary Vee. There's also a big strategy community around leaders like futurist Amy Webb and Rory Sutherland from Ogilvy. 

Heck, even Elon Musk might reply to you in the middle of the night! 

These people genuinely love their disciplines and encourage conversations. And they're not snobs - say something interesting and you will become part of the conversation. So follow your heroes. And follow the communities around them.

But also follow a few things that you don't love - just so that your ideas can be challenged. It's tedious to only see the perspectives you already subscribe to. That's not what education is about.

Find your community

Sure, you love your classmates. We're sure half of your Whatsapp groups are your fellow students. But there's more community out there for that. 

So have a look and find a community that helps you discover the things that you're interested in.

Here are some of our favourites:

  • Love brand strategy? Then something like the Sweathead Facebook group might be useful. This week they're running 90 minute of fun training to keep you sharp and help socialise if you need to work or study at home. 
  • Is advertising your jam? Then it's always entertaining to follow /r/Advertising on Reddit. While we don't always agree with everything there, the most thoughtful comments do bubble up to the top - and it's always entertaining.
  • Eat, sleep, and dream about product design? Then there's a community of more than 23,000 people on a giant Slack group over at MindTheProduct. With that many people, things sure move fast! But you're bound to find an interesting conversation or someone to answer your questions.

Start something

You're smart, so you probably know this already. But the best action-based learning often happens when you make something.

So while you're still in the educational phase of your life, there's no reason why you can't take your new-found skills and insights and make something new for the world to enjoy.

There are incredible examples of this:

  • Google was started in a garage by a couple of university students - which quickly overshadowed their studies. 
  • Pith was started by a student who served his guests at a four-seater table in his university dorm room.
  • Dropbox was started by someone who got sick of carrying a USB drive to college every day.

Keep your brain busy with Berghs

Hopefully there’s something there that helps you find some positives in this difficult time. If you’re still wondering how to make the most of your extra time at home, Berghs runs a whole lot of online courses in all areas of communication - in both Swedish and in English.

Honestly, there’s never been a better time to upgrade your skills. It’s a great way to find some positivity in these difficult times.

And if you have any tips for studying at home, we’d love to hear from you - via email, Twitter, or Facebook.