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Spring Cleaning Your Child’s Digital Learning Space

Before March, 2020, staying organized for school at the K-12 level largely meant keeping papers, textbooks, and school supplies organized in binders, backpacks, lockers, and desks. Now with online schooling, much organizing is done digitally, on computers. To stay prepared for online learning, students must learn how to keep their computers organized and clean.

Healthy (digital) organizational habits are essential for online learning. Such habits keep kids focused and in charge of their studies. Computers can quickly become a disorganized mess of intangible documents that get lost in the digital void.

The sooner a student learns healthy digital habits, the better. These habits will set them up for success now and in the long run, in school and in the workforce. Staying digitally organized can mean the difference between meeting a deadline and missing it by a week.

Organizing PDFs and organizing physical papers are very different endeavours, however. Parents who grew up in an analogue world are sometimes at a loss when it comes to teaching their children healthy digital habits because their children are more familiar with digital devices than they are. To them, laptops and smart phones are second nature.

But here are some of the essential online learning tips and hygiene hacks that will make learning easier and studying less stressful.

Backing Up Your Computer

Anyone familiar with the state of education in Ontario knows that for months students have no choice but to do their schooling online. For students doing online learning at school and/or with one-on-one tutors (many students in Ontario have sought help from tutoring services in Toronto and Mississauga and Hamilton), the first step to ensure an organized computer is to back it up.

Backing up a computer is the digital equivalent of photocopying documents and safely keeping them in storage. Doing so will ensure that if a computer faces problems, its documents and data will be safe.

Those who are at a loss for how to back up a computer can seek help from IT experts online. But learning how to back up a computer on your own isn’t as daunting a task as it may at first appear.

Backing up a Mac is different than backing up a PC. For both, however, there are three primary options:

  1. Back up to an external drive
  2. Back up to the Cloud
  3. Back up over the Internet

Back Up a Computer to an External Drive

Backing up a computer to an external drive requires using a computer’s built-in back up features to upload files to an external USB hard drive.

The process is quick and affordable, but keep in mind that an external USB hard drive is a physical object that, like all other physical objects, can be stolen, lost, or destroyed.

Back Up a Computer to the Cloud

“The Cloud” refers to servers accessible online, as well as the databases and software that run on these servers. Backing up on the Cloud is like backing up the computer to an external USB hard drive. The difference is that the Cloud is a digital thing that can’t get lost or broken.

Backing up a computer to the Cloud is often free if you need to back up only a few gigabytes of space. Backing up a lot of data usually costs money and the process can be more complicated than backing up the same number of gigabytes to an external USB hard drive.

Back up Over the Internet

Different online services are available to those who would prefer to back up their computer to the Internet. These services, which typically require a monthly fee, automatically back up your data and files to the server’s web storage.

The benefits of backing up a computer to the Internet are similar to the benefits of backing up a computer to the Cloud. The downside is that backing up your computer to the internet typically costs money.

If you want to be extra safe, you can protect your files and data by using all three methods.

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Credit: Pixabay Via Pexels

How to Neatly Organize a Computer

Beyond backing up a computer, there are simple ways of keeping computers neat and tidy and ideal for online learning or tutoring. There’s no one size fits all method of organizing, but typically developing healthy digital learning habits starts with organizing documents into folders.


Making folders to separate schoolwork is always a good first step. To separate schoolwork or online learning from everything else, create a folder called “School,” and organize this folder into subfolders according to course and semester, for instance. Then further organize each course according to week and/or assignment.

School à 2021 Spring Semester à English à Week 8 à Midterm paper à 2nd draft

Doing this will ensure that kids never lose track of assignments, and makes it easier for you to keep tabs on their progress.

Avoid Clutter

Avoiding clutter on your computer starts with sorting documents of all kinds into their proper folders. It also means keeping your desktop screen clean. Doing so demands organized digital instincts and knee-jerk reactions that may take some effort to cultivate.

Rather than unthinkingly dragging a PDF that you download from an email onto your already cluttered desktop, for instance, immediately drag the PDF into its proper folder upon downloading it. Leave only a few, if any, items on your desktop screen.

Organize the Web

Keeping a clean computer involves more than just keeping a clean desktop and a simple folder filing system. It also means bookmarking websites according to their purpose.

If a student visits one website for school, another for sports updates, and another for their part-time job, for instance, they’re best off sorting these websites into corresponding bookmarks: School, Sports, Job.

Keep the Computer Physically Clean

Computers themselves are physical objects, and physical objects get dirty. Unlike a car, however, you can’t clean a computer with soap or water. Instead, you can treat it with cleaning products designed for computers (as well as tablets and smart phones).

Make sure you check a cleaning product to see if it’s computer-friendly before using it on a computer. Treating a computer with products not meant for computers can cause serious damage.

And don’t forget to sanitize the keys. Research done by the University of Arizona found that the average desktop has 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat. Cleaning the keys with the right tools not only benefits the computer, it also can prevent you from getting sick.