Remote learning shopping list: stuff to make your new digital life more comfortable

Buy one, a few or all to transform your desk, dorm room, dining room table, bed or floor into the comfiest makeshift classroom ever.

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Sam Ford/THE REVIEW
Here are some things you can do to make remote learning a little brighter.


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Staff Reporter

This semester, many freshmen will miss out on the sacred rite of passage that is dorm shopping, and even more upperclassmen will have to determine how to store years’ worth of amassed dorm materials for the long-term. However, despite mattress pads and shower shoes no longer being a priority, there are plenty of supplies out there guaranteed to increase the ease of remote learning.

Buy one, a few or all to transform your desk, dorm room, dining room table, bed or floor into the comfiest makeshift classroom ever. A thorough Amazon search should yield prices for the listed products reasonable enough for even the most budget-conscious college student. Regardless, your comfort is worth every penny.

Blue Light Glasses
The volume of Zoom calls, digital exams and virtual textbooks that accompany remote learning means that you’ll be staring at a screen for copious lengths of time. The actual science behind their effectiveness is inconclusive due to limited research, and there is disagreement among professionals whether blue light glasses are even necessary. However, various testimonials claim that the glasses reduce eye strain and migraines associated with elongated device use, and can improve sleep. Either way, there are some seriously stylish frames out there.

Rolling Cart
Trendy and useful, rolling carts, be they metal or plastic, are a space-conscious way to allow efficient organization of textbooks, notebooks and other supplies, and offer greater accessibility than does cramming everything into a backpack or bookshelf. As a bonus, you can wheel away when your relatives or roommates annoy you, or when your bed or couch beckons.

Reading Pillow
There will be days when your lectures will just sound better from the comfort of your bed, or when your assigned reading simply must be done from your couch. Reading pillows prop you up better than regular pillows, making it more comfortable to complete assignments or take Zoom calls from the cozier areas of your home. Your posture will thank you.

Reusable Water Bottle
It’s highly likely that you already own one, but if you’re one of the few who haven’t subscribed to the Hydroflask/YETI/Tervis cults yet, consider a large, reusable water bottle to avoid having to constantly turn off your camera or pause lectures for kitchen trips. Yes, you can use a glass or single-use plastic water bottle, but the former can destroy a semester’s worth of notes with a single, unintentional elbow tap and the latter isn’t exactly environmentally-friendly.

Laptop Stand
Probably the most expensive item on this list, its value becomes apparent when you realize the intricate physics behind keeping a textbook, notebook, laptop, writing utensils, snacks, assorted beverages and other knick knacks on a desk or table. A laptop stand securely raises your device above your desk, allowing you greater space for other learning materials. Additionally, there are versions for tablets and cell phones. They’re also great for keeping your posture in its prime, since it allows you to keep your gadget at eye level, and they can make more flattering Zoom angles.

Lap Desk
Laptops and tablets can reach thigh-sizzling temperatures after prolonged use. A lap desk can save your legs and also makes it more comfortable to type when you find yourself away from your traditional workspace (i.e. couch, bed, beanbag, porch swing). With a variety of models on the market, lap desks can also be helpful for propping up textbooks or even meals.

Portable Reading Light
Lack of access to a well-lit library or student center is no excuse for damaged eyesight, and a regular lamp’s cord only stretches so far. Portable reading lights are invaluable for perusing your non-digital textbooks, especially late at night. Some versions can attach to a bed frame and others clip to your books,giving you plenty of light and reducing disturbances for others in your living space.

Reusable Writing Tablet
There’s only so much space in those trendy student planners to write down daily to-do’s and using an actual notepad results in heaps of wasted paper. Consider a reusable writing tablet for jotting down your daily plans. Not only will it help you stay on top of things (especially when your remote learning environment abounds with tempting distractions), it’s more environmentally friendly.

Zoom Backgrounds
The only free thing on this list; there will be days when your learning space won’t be exactly “picture perfect.” Dedicate some web surfing to finding free, downloadable Zoom backgrounds. For example, Canva, a free graphic design application, has whimsical backgrounds featuring everything from avocados to zodiacs, as well as backgrounds with moving features. NBC and HBO offer stills from binge-worthy icons like “The Office” and “Game of Thrones,” and UD has a hoard of downloadable backgrounds featuring campus highlights from the Green to blooming cherry blossom trees, all available on its website.

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