The online learning experience: tips and tricks

A blue front door with white walls and plants outside
Cliff Cottage
Type: Text
Category: Studying

Coronavirus has led to a lot of changes to pretty much every aspect of our life. Suddenly adapting to attending lectures, meetings and more from home was a difficult hurdle to overcome. 

However, with a few great tips and the university’s strong choice of software, the transition was much easier!

Staying focused – lectures/workshops 
Attending online lectures via Microsoft Teams, the university’s program of choice, took some getting used to. Being sat watching a lecture you aren't physically at can make paying attention harder. Here are a few tips that kept me engaged (and would work in physical lectures as well!)

Removing distractions 
It can be tempting to sit in on a lecture while having a chat with a flatmate or doing something else. You are not going to take in much information this way! Whenever it’s time for a lecture or online session, try and set up somewhere away from other people, and if using a computer make sure to mute any social software like discord or messenger. Setting yourself the time to sit and focus on the lecture is essential.

Getting involved 
Naturally, it can be difficult for certain types of sessions, but most of your lectures/workshops will offer the ability to ask questions during or at the end. Writing up a few questions throughout and asking them at the end can not only further your understanding of a topic, but also promote you to stay focused as you become an active participant of the session as opposed to an idle watcher. Even if you don’t ask them, simply drafting a few questions can help focus your mind on what is being said.

Setting yourself the time to sit and focus on the lecture is essential.

Working from home – assignments 
Remaining motivated to keep to a 9-5 or get assignments done at home is more difficult than having an established place for concentrating. Even without a pandemic, It can be tough to bother waking up earlier in the day or avoid working late into the night. Here are a few tips to help combat this:

Trying to build and maintain some form of routine is important when working at home. Ensure you have time to get out of bed and get some breakfast before getting to work. It’s even more important to try limit yourself to set hours, otherwise the temptation to work late into the night and accidentally burn yourself out is always there. I would also suggest keeping your phone/alarm away from the bed, forcing you to get out of bed to turn it off. It’s a little thing, but it can make such a big difference.

Getting dressed
It may seem silly, especially if you live alone, but try to get into regular clothes before getting started for the day – it honestly makes a huge difference. Forcing that kind of association on yourself, where regular clothes means it’s work hours and something a little comfier is for relaxing, can help you get into that head-space to work.

One system I found really useful is finding a friend or flatmate who is willing to work with you or check in every so often. If you’re working on essay, maybe have them check your current word count. If revising for exams, a quick quiz on whatever topic you were working on. Having that small bit of accountability, where somebody else will see your progress can help you push on.

Overall, switching to online learning was an unexpected situation, but still a positive one. With enough motivation and focus, developing a good mindset when working from home can help you remain positive and productive!

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