Out-of-classroom learning is challenging, because the group dynamics and the physical presence of the teacher are missing. This places a bigger burden on the student to maintain attention in a learning session, and to stay committed to a course that lasts weeks to months. It is very easy to settle into a passive learning strategy, in which the student watches a lecture without taking notes or thinking, doesn't solve practice problems or apply the knowledge, and doesn't integrate across different topics. This leads to a superficial understanding of the material that is likely to fade quickly. Consistent effort is necessary to gain a deep, flexible, and lasting understanding of the learning material.
To maximize learning, the student must be actively engaged. Distractions like TV, internet, and phone must be disabled. Good posture helps (sitting at a desk, back straightened, both feet on the ground), and a commitment to staying focused for a period of time is required, even as short as 15 minutes.
There is also an increased burden on instructors to provide material in a way that is comprehensive and comprehensible. Two-way communication is limited; instructors cannot determine students' engagement by visual cues, and many students are reluctant to email the instructor or post questions on Q&A forums. Therefore, the instructor must provide sufficient explanations — ideally, multiple different explanations to provide cross-links — for students with varied backgrounds. Instructors should vary the presentation style, such as typical lectures, graphics, pen-and-paper, and (if relevant) computer code.
Instructors also need to deliver lectures in a warm, welcoming, and approachable voice, so students understand that the instructor is a human being with goals and imperfections, not an unfeeling robot with an artificial voice-box.