Enjoying online learning as a student for the foreseeable future will need to be the norm, due to the rising cases of COVID-19 across universities. As we have see through various emails and broadcasts on TV, the change to learning at university means that instead of trudging to that 9am lecture on a Monday morning, you can grab a cup of tea, delve into the comforts of your bedroom and use your laptop via Microsoft Teams, or Zoom where all your fellow course mates are waiting anxiously for the lecturer, who are also, in the comforts of their own home.
This doesn’t seem to be a normal way of looking at learning, and many people have openly expressed their concerns for this mode even through efforts and lengths that universities have spent trying to ensure that the content can be handed to the student as easy as it is in person. Cardiff University decided to host a blended approach, so not all ties are lost.
As an English student, I am already expected to do a fair amount of reading and analysing independently, so enforcing online learning for a course like mine, is frustrating but doable.
I have approximately an hour for two of my modules in person teaching, and then the rest online. I see this approach as safe, especially for those who need to shield and because the outbreak is spreading so viciously, that it is much nicer to know that the risk of grabbing my laptop and attending the lecture online basically is 0 compared to if I went in person.
Easement of pre-recorded online material
Some lectures are pre recorded and uploaded to Learning Central, so if you do find yourself struggling with the content, it is so much easier to replay the recordings, than for example, having to grab notes off of other course friends, or trying to make sense of the notes via a PowerPoint that the lecturer has uploaded.
Another thing to note, is that if you are feeling particularly run down that day, you can catch up on the recordings a time where it suits you, so it doesn’t mean you have to feel worried that you are falling behind, as long as you are implementing that back into your routine again, you can make it work.
If your lectures are live at particular times, you save yourself time walking to and from university to whichever building you are based in, by being at home. This means more time going back over things you have noted down straight after the lecture, instead of waiting until you get home, where you may not even do this.
Gaining a much more focused routine
As we aren’t leaving the house as often as usual anymore, it is important to implement more focus, even when you feel like online learning is difficult. You have emails of staff in case you are struggling, you have such a broad range of sources at your fingertips to help you with your course, and even though you can’t go into the library, you can book in slots to grab books and look up essays and articles online.
If you know you have a lecture at a particular time, try and tailor your day around them i.e if the lecture is in the morning, try and wake up at a decent time to prepare the work, and then cater in extra stuff that you enjoy doing after you have finished the work. It is much easier to focus when you know when you have to do the work- and know that there isn’t a long walk that will take up more learning time.
Less physical distractions
Now that we aren’t heading into the big lecture halls as often, there aren’t as many in- person distractions such as friends being in the same room, noises coming from outside windows or other rooms. I find I am usually more distracted when there are more people around, so now that it is just us and the computer screen, the only person that can really distract you, is yourself. The more time you can focus, the more you can engage and understand the material, so you won’t end up frustrated and taking notes that aren’t going to help you in the long run.
Help your housemates and learn from them
You are not alone in the online learning regime- every single person at university is experiencing these same changes. If you are finding it tough, speak to the people you live with. We all learn so much more by the actions of others, so find some time to talk through your daily tasks with them. It doesn’t matter if they aren’t on the same course as you, as you can still gain some valuable tips. You could even set up a work routine alongside them, so you are both being productive and you can still have comfort of being around another person.
If you need help engaging with the online approach to learning, speak to your head of school, your lecturers or student support, who are always around to help.