How To Make The Most Out of Online Learning

These past few months have been strange to say the least. COVID-19 has altered our daily lives whether that be work, social gatherings, travelling etc. You could probably name any daily activity and COVID-19 has impacted it in some way. Education, especially, is not exempt from this. University students have been hit hard by these changes and this has been met with some mixed reviews.

One of the major changes to our university experience is the transition from ‘traditional’ face-to-face learning to online learning. Although some of us may love the fact that we can learn from the comforts of our own home, spend less on travel and wake up five minutes before a lecture, some of us are finding this transition much more difficult. Social isolation, mental health, and unproductiveness are issues that many of us may face during this academic year as a result of the pandemic. Therefore, in order to help you adjust to online learning we have included some tips that you may find helpful.

Tip 1: Taking Walks in the Morning

As someone who loves a cheeky commute to work or university, a walk in the morning has been essential for my day to day life. Not only is it so relaxing and great for your heart, it helps to keep your mind clear and alert. The only downside is that you may have to wake up earlier. However, since you don’t have to factor the time it takes to commute to work, you could allocate this time to a morning walk. The walk does not have to be long! A quick fifteen minute walk around your neighbourhood can be enough to get you ready for the day. Alternatively, for the exercise fanatics you can replace this with a jog or a quick gym sesh.

Tip 2: Taking the Time To Get Ready

Given our current circumstances, I feel it’s worth trying to strive for some form of normality during these bizarre times. One of the ways in which I do this is by being consistent with my morning routine. I found that keeping the same morning routine that I had prior to the pandemic, has drastically improved my attitude to online learning. Getting myself ready in the morning sets me up very nicely for the rest of the day. I am much more productive when I get myself ready before lectures - it also aids tremendously with my time management and utilising the rest of the day efficiently. For example, if I need to go out immediately after some lectures, I am ready to do so because of the necessary preparations I made in the morning.

Tip 3: Setting Up Your Workspace

Setting up a suitable workspace will aid with your productivity. In the morning, I wake up pretty early, charge my laptop and phone as well as have my notebook and pen ready. I tend to have this set up before I go on my morning walks. In my experience, I have found that psychologically, I feel ready to tackle my degree once everything is put in place. It’s almost like setting up your desk in an exam hall right before the exam is about to start - helps you get in the mood!

I am aware that some of us may not have the privilege of having a suitable desk area that is accessible all the time. Some of us may be living at home, or may share a desk with siblings or may not have a desk at all. If you find yourself in this situation try to find somewhere in your home that is not inside your room. For me, my room can be one of the biggest distractions. Sometimes sitting in my living room (with the TV off) or kitchen can improve my concentration.

Please at all costs, avoid working in your bed - please. Especially, when working at night. You will now wake up with the laptop on your head. Do you really want that?

Tip 4: Taking Regular Breaks

I am sure that this is something that you have heard before but there is some truth to this. Taking regular breaks is essential. I try to structure my day to resemble that of primary or secondary school simply because I have always found it fascinating how schools manage to fit in so much teaching within a few hours in a day. The average school day for me was productive. A school lesson is around an hour so I try to work consistently within that time frame with limited distractions. Consequently, I tend to have more evenings to myself which has improved my work-life balance significantly.

During these breaks, I would suggest communicating with some of your friends. A quick phone call can be really helpful. Social isolation in a pandemic can lead to a downward spiral so actively try to maintain your friendships.

Tip 5: Get Organised

Online learning can really be an opportunity to maximise your time. However, if it isn’t done productively you run the risk of experiencing the complete opposite. One way to avoid this is by planning your week with realistic and attainable tasks. I would advise using the same day of the week to generally plan for the week ahead. I prefer using Sunday evenings to get my life together and plan the tasks that need to be completed for the week. I use Notion, the Reminders App and also the Calendar App. I use Notion for my overall goals whether that be weekly, monthly or yearly. Reminders is used for my day to day activities (because it’s so flexible when you need to move tasks around) and the Calendar App is used for events. By using these methods I am able to use my time effectively during the day.

Tip 6: Pick Up A New Skill

Depending on the degree, certain students may have more time than others. However, I believe there is a skill for everyone to pick up. Some more time consuming than others. To keep your mind clear, it’s important that you make time for activities that you enjoy. This could include crocheting, playing an instrument, a sport (although this may be difficult given COVID), learning to code (great for those who are looking into alternative career pathways), learning graphic design. The list is really endless. In your breaks you could possibly work on developing skills. You can slot these activities into your personal timetable.

Tip 7: Use Your University’s Support Service

Studying at home can be difficult and there may be a chance that you may not have all the resources to help you do so. Some universities have helpful guidelines when it comes to student support, funding and extenuating circumstances. If you are struggling, please do make sure that you get in contact with your university. Yes, some universities are much better than others when it comes to support services but sometimes even the smallest of actions can help alleviate some stress. If you do get the time, look into what is available for you to ensure you make the most out of your academic year.

I hope that you find some of these tips useful. I’m not a professional when it comes to productivity, however, these are the tips that have worked for me. Let us know if you find them helpful and good luck with the new academic year!

Written by: Bimpe Adeyemi (Co-founder of the Black & Forth Platform)


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