Apps and actions to ditch distractions during online learning


Harper Axelman

Student using Flora, a app where users can grow a virtual garden, to prevent distractions on their phone during online learning.

Before March of 2020, the atmosphere at AHS was one that supported learning through talking and listening in person. In this environment, phones were in pockets, teachers peered over students’ shoulders to make sure they were focused, and there was no temptation to do anything but listen and learn. But at home, there are many distractions that can negatively affect students’ learning. However, there are also strategies that help students avoid these distractions for a better learning experience at home.

Distractions such as social media can decrease students’ ability to learn well. In a study about college students who used their phone during class vs. those who did not use their phone, students who went on their phone during class retained less material and did worse on tests, and in another survey, 80% of college students said that using their phone in class diminished their understanding of the material.

These statistics were from students who were learning in a classroom in person. Now, students have even more distractions surrounding them at home that impede their learning. However, there are also strategies that can help students stay focused in class.

It can be easy to go on apps like TikTok or Instagram during school, but a solution is to use apps on your phone or computer to prevent this. One helpful app is Flora, where users can set a timer for how long they want to focus, and then a virtual flower or tree will be planted that will grow up when the timer runs out. If you leave Flora to go on another app, then the plant is killed, which makes it more difficult to go on other apps and get distracted, and easier to focus on learning. Once the timer on the app runs out, students are rewarded with a plant to put in their virtual garden, and users can also do this with friends.

Forest is a similar app, but you are able to plant real trees in Africa with Trees for the Future. However, it costs $1.99 to buy it on the App Store. Another option that can be used on Android is StayOnTask, which allows users to set work sessions, and checks up on users throughout the session to make sure you are focused. If students are working on a computer, there are also apps or extensions such as Focus or Todoist that can be used to avoid the temptation of distractions.

Another important part of staying focused at home is where you are working. A space that is quiet is ideal, but if you have trouble finding a good place to work, a good way to block out distractions is to play music or use earphones when you are in class or studying.

These tips can help students stay focused, like putting your phone in a pocket at school. It can help students avoid distractions and focus like they would in a classroom, which is important to understanding material and having a positive experience during online learning.