What I Learned As A Student While Studying From Home
Hello to my fellow peers! The pandemic has brought with it the need to adapt to new ways of living – and that includes new ways of studying. Our classes, workshops, talks were all integrated online.
Whether you were/are in school, college, or your postgraduate studies in these past two years, at some point we would have experienced studying online from home. These are some of my personal observations from online learning:
1. Be mindful of possible distractions around your workspace!
Just like how we can get easily distracted when we have our phones nearby, I realized it was so easy to get distracted while attending online classes as well! I do sometimes struggle with zoning out during in-person classes. Thus, it takes even more effort to focus when I am left to my own devices. Especially when there are bigger-sized classes involved, the lecturers would not be able to pinpoint or call out every student to participate.
To focus better, I have a notebook in front of me so that I can physically write out my notes. This helps me to check if I am following what is being taught in class.
2. Being creative in connecting with our peers
Some of us may have started our current courses fully online – we may not have even met our peers in person yet despite being in the same cohort! To replace in-person hangouts, I notice the trend of people gaming together online. Apps such as Jackbox Games and Gartic Phone allow players to play together live from different computers/locations. Some of my peers have also scheduled for everyone to chill together on Zoom as well as movie nights.
Though we are physically apart, online studying together has shown that we are still able to connect with our peers. One of the things the pandemic has shown us is that it is more important than ever to connect – it has taught us to appreciate each other more. We just have to find different and new ways to connect with one another.
3. More discipline is required!
This comes back to the “lack of focus” point mentioned earlier. Online learning did bring the perk of not needing to factor in travel time – I could just roll out of bed, wash my face, and get to class.
However, I decided to establish a fixed morning routine for the days I had classes. Wake up around 7.30-8 am, do some stretching, have breakfast, take a shower, and get some light reading done before class begins.
I realized that having a fixed routine and self-discipline helped me in pacing out my work and rest times. Aside from classes, students will also have to meet assignment deadlines or prepare for upcoming exams. Purposefully planning my time has helped to reduce my burnout rate. Now, I felt more organized and less stressed about my tasks.
4. Zoom fatigue is real
Yes, the term “Zoom fatigue” (or “virtual fatigue”) was coined. Wikipedia defines this phenomenon as “tiredness, worry or burnout associated with the overuse of virtual platforms of communication, particularly video conferencing.”
Professor Jeremy Bailenson, the founding director of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL) identified the four consequences of Zoom fatigue: the stress of maintaining eye contact with our peers (and focus), the effect of seeing ourselves on-screen constantly, staying in the same spot and not moving for long periods, and utilizing greater cognitive load during video calls. Bailenson pointed out that we would have to work harder to express ourselves through online communication, in place of in-person facial expressions and intonation.
After having a full day (or even a half-day) of online classes, many of us may find ourselves completely spent by the end of the day. If I had two 3-hour sessions in a day, I would normally switch off and relax during the night. Though this depends on how urgent my tasks are, I would try to only continue my work the following day.
5. Cause for innovation
I noticed that with online classes, both our lecturers and peers alike are encouraged to be more innovative in the learning process.
When we had presentation week, my peers and I prepared our various slides (some even used animations!). This is to better engage with our audience. Apps such as Canva and Prezi can be used to make these presentation slides. To make quizzes more interesting, lecturers have used applications such as Kahoot! to encourage students to participate more actively.
6. Following Zoom/Online etiquette
Through online studying, I realized that there are different etiquettes involved in comparison to in-person classes.
Etiquettes such as knowing when to switch on or off your camera, muting or unmuting yourselves, sharing our screen, virtually raising our hands to ask questions or respond to our peers, or knowing when to speak up without interrupting or making our peers feel left out of the conversation. There are several examples of Zoom meeting etiquettes published online that you can refer to!
As a current student myself, these are some of my takeaways from online learning. Through this experience, I have learned that there are things we needed to adapt to. These were such as class etiquette and new ways of learning. There are also greater avenues for us to be creative. We can dive into finding new ways to connect with our peers or make our work more engaging. I hope that these pointers can remind you to take a breath. Also, to be open to trying something new, and stay focused as you continue onto your academic journey! You’re not alone – we got this!
Interested to know more about balancing your online learning? Check out these articles on How to Maintain Focus During Your Online Classes and How to Maximize your Student Life Experience While Studying from Home.