COVID-19: E-learning Tips and Advice
So, working at home.
For 4 weeks. Maybe longer.
Nobody knows as we await updates from the Ministry of Education. According to the Emirates News Agency (WAM), all schools and universities across the UAE are undergoing sterilization and cleaning procedures to ensure the safety of returning students. It is important for everyone to remain calm during this time and only read the news that comes directly from WAM and reputable sources.
Students are trying to make the best of studying at home. Introverts are probably celebrating. Students who hate group projects and stepping outside, in general, are thankful for finally being able to study at the comfort of their homes. However, it’s the opposite for the students who enjoy the deafening silence of the silent study room in the library, and the ones who need to team up in the Library Group Study (LGS) area! Some students rely on each other for group study sessions.
We can all get a little bit distracted at home and at times not be able to concentrate because of the temptation to complete an entire season of Stranger Things in a day. Yeah, don’t click away, I’m talking to you. Let’s not forget about the countless number of trips we make to the fridge or the number of times we decide to play with our dog or cat!
All of us have different study habits and it is natural for us to get distracted. However, on a more serious note, studying at home is the current situation and we really need to make sure we can adapt to this sudden change. It is not easy for some, and that’s why we are here in solidarity, hoping that sharing what works for us best, could help you too!
According to a study by the International Conference on Distance Learning and Education, virtual university life has its benefits. This includes a learner-centered environment, unlimited access to not only distance learning packs but library resources and uninterrupted classes compared to a physical classroom. Now you won’t have to spend time commuting to university and you will also save money. The study also discussed how students can be creative in the learning process through the usage of other elements such as videos, slide shows, online courses and many other forms of e-learning.
Below are a few tips that would essentially help you enhance your learning at home, ensuring a balanced, healthy work lifestyle.
- The Pomodoro Technique – tried and tested!
The Pomodoro Technique is not just a technique, but a reminder that studying for 4 hours at a stretch is not doable without a breakdown. This method involves studying for 25 minutes, taking a five-minute break, and repeating the same cycle at least 4 or 5 times until you finally choose to take a longer break of 15 to 20 minutes. According to studies, this technique has proven to increase students’ focus and attention span, allowing them to learn large chunks of information without feeling exhausted as the process involves breaks. This is extremely useful when studying at home, as students would tend to procrastinate if they were to not plan out their schedule with this method. Take your regular coffee or tea breaks, and watch your concentration grow!
- Stay active, stay productive
While some of us find working out at the university gym or gyms outside of campus to be better than home workouts. Is vital to not give up on staying active due to staying indoors. Alongside your studies, a good dose of yoga stretches, or even a quick jog down the neighborhood will get your heart pumping and keep you physically healthy despite the ongoing COVID-19. Staying inactive would make you feel groggy and altogether push you towards unproductivity as you would not feel like getting out of bed all day, eventually getting very little work done.
- Make schedules and set your own deadlines!
Yes, you have more control over your course materials than your professors do, however, there is a tendency to slack off and not be able to complete things on time. This is the thought process of most students when working at home (and I, unfortunately, suffer the same):
“I’ll start at 8:30, that should work.”
“Oops, it’s 8:40 already, might as well start at 9.”
One eternity later….
“Dang it, I’ll pull an all-nighter. It’s not like I’ve got university tomorrow anyways.”
Some of us sleep off whilst studying. And the others? Well, let’s not go there. Students who can handle all-nighters are born owls, ready to face any challenges they face throughout the night with a beverage known to keep themselves sane for days without sleep: coffee. As much as a student has the freedom on how they manage to get through the day and finish their tasks, it’s necessary to maintain a healthy schedule. Grab a planner or a plain notebook and write your tasks for the day, dividing it with breaks. Satisfaction will be your reward as you tick each task off the paper, also ensuring all your tasks are complete without compromising on your sleep cycle and overall health. Setting your own deadlines too, are important. This can mean you finish your tasks well ahead of time before the actual deadline that your professors set, and will also provide adequate time to rework, and proofread your submissions or have additional time to revise for your examinations.
- Reorganise your workspace!
Nobody likes studying on a messy desk, or a messy room, even. It steals every bit of the motivation you thought you had and will make you procrastinate more than ever. To enjoy your workspace at home, not only will decluttering your study area make you feel better but sprucing it up with scented candles, light symphony music, and adequate lighting will provide an alternative environment. It will make you feel comfortable, yet ready to complete your schedule.
- Do not isolate yourself
Staying at home does not necessarily mean you cannot stay in touch with your colleagues and peers. A regular flow of communication is imperative in ensuring that not only are you moving in the right direction but also are assured of what is going on. You can keep each other motivated through regular phone calls, video calls and text messages about your coursework (and venting out when you need to, with your close friends!). Staying connected is important for a healthy you, especially when you are required to stay at home due to bigger reasons.
Finally, do not neglect your health and strictly follow the necessary precautions ordered by the Dubai Health Authority to steer clear of any symptoms that may be closely linked to the coronavirus. It may not be a great time, but don’t be so gloomy – look at the bright sides of every situation. Try to make the best of it and know that the university staff is there for you at all times through e-mails and phone calls. Happy e-learning!