• Carly Nunes Belo

How To Make The Most Of Online Learning.

Dear University students, We have been going through IT!

From mental anxieties rising at an all-time high, social disconnection and work loads piling up constantly; we are the first generation to experience this paradigm shift that the education system has fought so hard to tell us was not possible!

Yet here we are, learning and teaching ourselves from our homes. All that attendance stress for what?

Hypocrisy aside, we truly are a testament of resilience. Online learning was implemented in practically the same breath as a pandemic spiralling out of control. Yet in the midst of it all …we stand. Or should I say, we submit. We submit assignments, projects and essays almost like a mutating virus doesn’t terrorise our streets. Although now, you see more and more institutions attempting to bridge the massive gaping hole in the justification for (in the UK) over £9k being spent yearly on tuition.

There is much for our government to do to truly address this. However, in the mean time we have no choice but to cope.

Here is what worked for me. Please adapt any of the advice below to your circumstance.

1) Take Regular Breaks.

Sounds counter-intuitive I know, but in actuality it is the most overlooked aspect of maximising productivity.

It is something I hear most experts and psychologists say repeatedly. A study session involving a break every hour, is considered more effective than forcing yourself to sit in front of a screen for 6 hours straight. Studies have proved this; a quick Google or YouTube search is littered with this fact. Our brains are just simply not wired to work in that way, you are decreasing the likelihood of information retention every time you ignore your mind and body’s need for a rest.

Taking a break does not mean checking your emails, messages or Twitter timeline.

Your attention will still be on a screen, to your brain that’s all the same thing! In your breaks, avoid any screen or technological apparatus involving one.

2) Prioritise.

You don’t have to finish and complete everything today. Do what you can, be realistic with yourself. Most importantly, be compassionate with yourself!

You cannot expect to consistently show up willing to mash out as much work as you deem is enough. You will have slower days so take that into account instead of punishing yourself for it.

Sort tasks on this basic criterium: urgency, importance and interest. What needs to be urgently completed? What is more important to look at? What interests you the most?

As much as our professors can set us an endless list of readings labelling them essential, to put it simply: they aren’t. Exercise your right to choose and decide, the more mindful you are of these choices, the more likely you will retain whatever you read or write.

At the end of the day it is YOUR degree, stop doubting your ability and make it your own.

3) Set Space and Place.

I understand that everyone does not have the liberty to have a designated space where they can sit down and study, we can still break it down and simplify to the action taken.

Closing the door, making the bed, turning on the reading light, clearing the desk, (or kitchen table, work with what you have!) These are all strategies you can take to set the intention you intend to take: to study, to read, to write… whatever it may be, make sure you are at least attempting to translate this into your physical environment. It’s a ritualistic approach to mentally and physically prepare yourself to meaningfully carry out whatever it is you wish.

4) Move.

The human body is not designed to be seated for extended periods of time. A seated position applies pressure to the bottom of your spine, hence why it is unhealthy for posture.

Reminding yourself to include movement into your study sessions is not recommended, it is mandatory. Your joints are meant to be flexed regularly, go for a walk, do a quick yoga flow or cardio workout. Exercise is an invaluable tool, if you can, to engage in for mental clarity and releasing any pent-up tension you may be holding onto.

5) Ask for Help.

Attending University online is not an excuse to struggle even more than we already were while on campus.

Send that email, book office hours, call up your friends… don’t have any? Befriend some! It really is easier than it looks. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen?

Put your pride aside for a moment, in fact there isn’t any space for that right now. Everyone is in a similar position as you, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Pause and think, how ‘out there’ are we really going anyway?

In the long term, we have to take advantage of the resources we have. Remote learning is our new normal, adjust accordingly.

We are at the forefront of the change in how education is tailored and delivered to masses, don’t take this burden too heavy…just shift it.

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