Online education is an adjustment, but there are ways to make it work better
This summer, all of UVic’s classes will be online. Premier John Horgan has also confirmed that there will be a mix of online and in-class instruction in the fall, provided that cases remain low.
As a former homeschool student, I have experienced online learning before. The world of education through a computer screen can be a mental struggle, especially if you have never had to do it. I want to take some of the things I have learned in my years of self-paced learning and create a list for those of us who are learning, or relearning, how to accomplish our education online.
The traditional form of education has been challenged during this pandemic. Students are well equipped to take it in stride and seek modern solutions. After all, there is no reason education must be in person to be successful.
With that in mind, here are eight ways we can be prepared to take our education online. I hope this list inspires your learning and encourages exploration of further strategies in these strange times.
1. Develop a routine. The importance of a routine cannot be overstated. Establishing a routine is one of the best ways to be productive. This is quite simple: get up at the same time, go to bed at the same time, exercise at the same time, and do school work every day at the same time.
None of this is to say that going to bed early is best. For night owls, 2 a.m. might be the best bedtime for you if your hours of productivity are between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. Whatever your bedtime is, make your routine into habits, and get a healthy amount of sleep before starting up again the next morning.
2. Set spatial boundaries within your home. Your couch is for relaxing. Your bed is for sleeping in. And your work space, be it a desk, a table, or a special area of the floor, is for working in. Keeping your spaces specific to their individual activities will make your brain learn to associate those spaces with those activities.
3. Eat regular and healthy meals. It goes without saying that your brain is an organ and needs food to function at peak capacity. Eating a balanced diet at regular times during the day can help to keep your energy up. This allows you to focus more and be more productive during your day — and help you get through that last half-hour of a Zoom lecture.
4. Turn on “do not disturb”. Set times when no one can contact you. Turn off the phone, shut the door, and silence the iPad. Capitalize on the time you set aside for undisturbed work and work hard. All of your Facebook messages, Snapchats, and emails will be still there afterwards.
5. Socialize, even if it’s just a phone call to a friend or a holler across the street at your neighbour. One of the most important things we can do to stay productive is to support each other and continually remind ourselves that this too will pass. As a way to remind ourselves of this we must continue to support each other by keeping in contact while we study apart. Although we are studying apart, it’s still important to support each other and stay in touch. A friend or loved one can offer encouragement or remind you of future plans to look forward to. Not only does this encourage you to keep working, but it reminds your loved ones that they too have things to look forward to once this is all over.
6. Communicate! Your professors are there to help you! It’s literally their job to teach you and help you achieve your academic goals. Communication is key, especially without the conventional classes that provide body language, fellow peers, and one-on-one conversation. There are other ways to talk to your professor, such as Skype office hours. Take advantage of the technology available to you and ask the questions that need to be answered.
7. Take time to rest and incorporate breaks into your work day. Take the time to do something you love. Take time to eat, sleep, exercise, and recollect yourself after achieving something.
8. Take it easy; not everything will always get done in a day and that’s alright. Work in manageable, bite-size chunks. Don’t push yourself to the breaking point and make sure your professors are in the loop when you feel like you are taking on too much. This goes hand in hand with communication, no one can help you if they don’t know you need help.
Together we can make the coming semesters successful whether or not we are physically together. As writer T. F. Hodge said, “Head up, heart open. To better days!”