How To Set Up An Online Learning Environment

Learning a new skill online has become an incredibly popular choice – but it does mean a rather different learning experience when compared to conventional lessons in a brick-and-mortar institution. Rather than spending your time studying in an environment especially designed and purpose-built for learning, you’ll instead be studying in your own home; a very different proposition. While there are huge benefits to studying at home, there is also a need to fine tune the environment and create a space that is suitable for studying.

A good learning environment can help to ensure you are able to completely focus on the material you are learning. You will find that, as a direct result of your learning environment, you’ll be able to enjoy a more pleasant learning experience, and can also be conducive to a strong performance throughout your course. In this piece, we’ve sought to list a few pointers that can help you up the right online learning environment in your home. 




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Find A Quiet Space

If there is one thing that unites the vast majority of people studying online, it’s the need for a quiet place to work. You’ll therefore need to scan your home to see where you can find such a space: ideally, you want to work as far away from the rooms that tend to generate the most noise – the living room and the kitchen. 

If you have the space available, a spare bedroom is an excellent choice. Alternatively, you could consider your own bedroom or even the attic; if such options also aren’t available, then a garage, shed, or outbuilding could also work provided there’s enough space available and you can keep yourself warm while working. 


If necessity means that you have to set up your environment in the living room or the kitchen, consider using a pair of ear plugs while you work.

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Opt For A Desk and Chair If The Space Allows

Sitting in a chair and working at a desk is the most conventional way to study for a reason: it’s by far the best option. The desk ensures that all of your material can be arranged neatly in front of you, while the chair provides support and ensures you’re comfortable during your study session. It’s therefore best, if you can, to place a desk and a suitable chair (one that you are content to sit in for potentially a few hours at a time) in your chosen quiet space. 

If not possible… 

However, sometimes, a full desk-and-chair setup isn’t suitable for every space – so the best advice is to simply do what you want to ensure you are comfortable while studying. Ideally, you want to be positioned so that you don’t need to lean forward or crane your neck to see the screen or what you are working on; being able to maintain good posture is crucial to avoid neck and back pain while studying. It’s also preferable to have a hard surface to balance the computer you will use for studying on, so that you can focus on the content of the course, rather than worrying about keeping your device steady.

Consider The Light (In More Ways Than One)

When studying online, lighting can often fall by the wayside as a consideration: after all, the screen of your computer – which one presumes you’re using to study – is backlit, so surely that’s sufficient? Not quite. Good lighting is crucial to any learning environment, and the backlight of a computer screen isn’t necessarily enough to support your eyes during your study sessions. Opt for a secondary light source; a table lamp is usually preferable to having to use a ceiling light as you can control the direction of the light better, though either will work well.  

On another light-related note… 

Another consideration in regards to lighting is the potential impact of blue light on your circadian rhythm. All electronic devices, from mobile phones to the computer you will use to go through your online course materials, emit blue light that is theorised to potentially disrupt your sleep cycle. If you’re going to be working on your course in the evenings (as is fairly common) then the effect of the blue light of your screen could make it difficult for you to get to sleep. 

We recommend either using a blue light filter on your device; Windows now offers a “night light” to perform this function, or you can – if you prefer – download a dedicated filter online. Alternatively, you could try wearing orange-tinted glasses when studying at night; it’s an odd look, but it’s worth it if it means being able to preserve your sleep, so you can study all the better in the future!

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Everyone is different, so realistically, the best answer is to go with whatever makes you feel comfortable. However, if you’d prefer a scientific absolute answer, a study of studies concluded that 21C/71F is the best room temperature for productivity – and higher productivity would definitely be beneficial to your study sessions. 

Listening to music can be both beneficial to your studying efforts, as music helps to lower stress, but it can also be a distraction. It’s generally recommended that if you do find music helpful, opt for soft, gentle music that – ideally – does not have lyrics, and keep the volume relatively low.

With the advice in this piece, we have tried to ensure that your online learning environment will be as pleasant and as conducive to a great study experience as it can be – but it’s still important to take regular breaks. Try to ensure that you pause every half hour or so, and that you leave your chosen study space to do so – stand up, stretch, walk around a little, and then resume your studies once more.

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