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The Art of Online Learning

Given this year’s events, more specifically the new but also not-so-new normal, we have all been trying our best to make space for our second home. Luckily, communication has never been a difficulty considering easy access to multiple platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

Since the physical classroom was a controlled environment with minimal distractions, it seems like the key problem here is focusing in class while at home. Six weeks into distance learning and most of us have probably experienced the horror of our professors asking us a question with the vacuum machine roaring in the background. 

A handful of students who opted for online learning shared their experiences. They also gave us a few tips on how one can concentrate on academics and stay attentive during class without feeling like the walls are caving in.

Pocket full of sunshine 

Just like the rest of us, first-year law student Lydia Vourlidi was struggling with virtual classes and has realised the commitment for a distraction-free zone. To overcome the need to scroll through Instagram while studying, she suggests goal setting.

She explained: “Taking regular breaks like walks or even going to a cute atmospheric café makes such an experience, much better.” Vourlidi also prefers studying alone, being surrounded with lots of colours and receiving her daily dose of sunlight.

Picture shows an open book and laptop against the backdrop of dense greenery and ample sunlight. Lydia Vourlidi

How to not fall asleep 

Meet Abigail Spencer’s safe zone featuring a wooden desk, pictures, a mini-library, a small whiteboard for her infinite tasks and as she likes to call it, “a rubber ducky to squish” for stress-related emergencies. Keeping it simple yet effective, she suggests studying in a neutral space and perhaps, opening a window during class to get a whisk of fresh air. Make no mistake, Spencer also likes to live-on-the-edge.

She says, “get your friends in class to turn on their cameras, then randomly message them to get a reaction. Just be sure not to disturb the teacher!”

Abigail Spencer’s desk features a small whiteboard, a laptop, and an assortment of books. 
Abigail Spencer

We all need daily affirmations

Switching from peaceful LGS rooms to a cosy environment where you are too comfortable to grasp any information, Samah Kokan has decided to take a more goal-driven approach. How? With a vision board that works! She believes that a friendly reminder of her ambitions is just what every online student needs.

“I even made sure that all my lighting was set in place, so that I could work without having to stress about anything that felt off-putting”, said Kokan. 

Samah Kokan suggests getting a vision-board to keep reminding yourself to work hard. 
Image credits: Samah Kokan

Do Not Disturb 

Disappointed that she must spend her third year at home, Ruwa Hamid tries to make the most of what is in her control.

Talking about her study space, she joked, “there is nothing such as space in a brown family.”

Hamid likes her things organised – from how she places her books to the dimness of the light in her work area. Understanding the dilemma of needless distractions, she makes it clear to her family members about not disturbing her while she is in her zone. 

Ruwa Hamid is all about organization and simplicity.
Image credits: Ruwa Hamid

A real game-changer 

Media student Jana Khalil likes to keep it chill. At first, she felt studying with her bed just two steps away from her would be a challenge. Aiming to overcome that, she decided to create a workspace for herself. She calls this the “game-changer”. For all her research and writing, she faces her desk towards the stunning view of the city. For her brainstorming and creative needs, Khalil’s got herself a bean bag. It is all about finding your comfort! 

Jana Khalil’s got both – a desk and a beanbag for her research and brainstorming needs.
Image credits: Jana Khalil

As easy as ABC

Second-year psychology student Shyma Kauser is here to let you know that all students have their own way of learning and prepping for exams.

She confirms, “I do not believe that we need a separate room or some really attractive stationary or set up to study.”

While she shifts into her new home, Kauser cannot wait to redesign her study space. Currently, she is attending her classes on the couch, a sentence we thought we would never say. Soon, she will make sure that her new work area ticks off three boxes – clean, tidy, ample sunlight and isolated enough to birth ideas. She dreams of a cup of coffee to enjoy the sunset from her window too!

Shyma Kauser is currently shifting into her new home but she’s got her priorities straight. Image credits: Shyma Kauser

Less is more 

Like Kauser, Neha Shajudeen admits that you do not need a lot of decoration to be on the qui vive (attentive) during class or while studying. What keeps her motivated is a simple picture of her family and possibly, a cup of black coffee. You might not need a lot to build yourself an apt area to perform your routinely academic work.

Shajudeen recommends, “some people just prefer having something colorful and interesting, like origami or a pinboard. You really don’t need to shell out a lot of money to get something interesting for your study table.”

A picture of her family is what keeps her motivated to do her best. Image credits: Unsplash. 

Stay safe, stay home

Medina Ashimbayeva has always been one to visit cafes and complete her assignments. Taking precautions, she has made it convenient for herself to stay indoors and create a pleasant space to work in. She gets going with a lit candle, a small pack of Oreos, a cup of coffee or tea and a timer to take pauses.

She recommends, “there is an app called Pomodoro that makes sure I take short and long breaks and tracks my time while I study.”

Medina Ashimbayeva suggests downloading Pomodoro to take regular breaks in between studyingImage credits: Medina Ashimbayeva

Decluttering 101

Tehniat Rizwan, who is currently pursuing her bachelors in psychology, calls herself a minimalist which really shows. A study space, according to her, is a hot spot at home that helps you stay away from any sort of distraction including any clutter that has the potential to fluster your mind. Rizwan allows sunlight and fresh air into her study area because it makes her feel less gloomy.

She also advises, “all you need is your favourite drink to hydrate on, keep sipping on that to avoid lethargy.”

Away from distraction, Tehinat Rizwan likes to avoid any clutter in her desk.
Image credits: Tehniat Rizwan

Working well under pressure 

Shifting of study areas, trouble with the Wi-Fi, two younger siblings and lots of noise — that is what Ann Bequizo’s every day looks like. Do not be mistaken, she has got it all under control. Her solution is to light up a candle and listen to music.

She says, “It helps me renew and regain my concentration.”

Sometimes, she selects a coffee shop with strong WiFi to assist her with her productivity levels. It gives her the motivation to finish whatever is on her schedule before heading back home.

Ann Bequizo recommends going to a coffee shop to get away from the daily grind.
Image credits: Unsplash. 

At the end of the day, we are all in control of how we perceive our current situation and how we make the most of it. Though remote learning comes with its own challenges, nothing is ever unachievable. Remember, practice makes perfect!


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