Top Seven Tips Every Student Needs to Ace Online Classes
As you start reading, I want you to pause for a while and picture the past. Examine the world and what it was once. Think of how it has changed, its impact on your existence, and your life as a whole. Without a doubt, the world is now a different place. What was once normal is forbidden, resulting in drastic changes in the way humanity lives.
With the new normal at hand, the world is adapting for the sake of survival. Which includes the rise of a modern learning system: online education. Although it’s not new, most third-world countries around the globe are experiencing drastic shifts in their medium of learning. From face-to-face interaction, online classes are the new normal now.
Last July, I had experienced online classes myself, and to tell you, it is a whole different ball game. Huge adjustments are expected to be observed both by professors and students to survive this new learning environment. In my country, the Philippines, classes in colleges and universities are about to start. Hence, to help you transition into this new means of education, here are the top seven useful tips I learned from online classes that you need to help you ace the new normal of learning:
1. Create a Schedule
Creating a daily schedule is an important aspect in order to survive online classes. With the amount of time you have in hand, and the absence of environmental pressure of normal classroom setting, the tendency of falling into poor time management increases. To avoid wasting time, creating a schedule is crucial.
You can create a schedule by simply dividing your day into time blocks. These blocks of time are allocated to accomplish a specific task. On the other hand, making a to-do list may also work depending on your preference. Regardless of the technique, the only important element in creating a schedule is to have a clear vision of how you want your day to look like.
2. Stick to Your Schedule
Making a schedule is a story, sticking to it is another. In most cases, it is at this point where scheduling gets tricky. The problem is most people think that creating a schedule is productivity by itself. In all honesty, I was once a victim of such a mentality. However, the reality is, it is more than just that. Creating a schedule is a form of motion, but not an action.
I refer to this as the difference between being in motion and taking action. The two ideas sound similar, but they’re not the same. When you’re in motion, you’re planning and strategizing and learning. Those are all good things, but they don’t produce a result.James Clear in his book entitled Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones
While engaging in this process, self-awareness is essential. You do not want to fall into the misbelief of being productive only by creating an outline of your day. No matter how straightforward and organized a schedule can be, without proactive behaviour, it is equivalent to nothing. At the end of the day, schedules are only visions and are as good as how you translate it into action. Let it act as your guide, stick with it and produce an outcome; this is what matters.
3. Remove Distractions
Distractions are by far the greatest enemy of online classes. Either in the form of physical or virtual, these are proven to influence a decline in academic performance. Especially with the current set up of learning today, by just a single click, and in an instant, students have access to different sources of distraction. As per my experience in online classes, which I am not proud of, I had moments when I am attending online class while scrolling my news feed on Facebook and Twitter timeline. Consequential to this action, the quality of my learning was compromised.
In response to my mistake, I read articles about how to get rid of them and learned that in order to ensure reduction or removal of distraction, proactive behaviour is number-one. Before classes start, make sure that all unnecessary devices are at least a room away from you. You can also download application blockers like AppBlock to help yourself. Remember that with this tempo, you can never rely only on your own willpower. Thus, taking advantage of external assistance can create a huge difference.
In terms of physical distractions, try to communicate with your parents or guardians. Explain to them why you need to focus and become away from distractions, while classes are ongoing. You can settle an agreement with them by setting a schedule of when you are going to help in the duties inside your home, in exchange for total freedom during class hours. If capable, you may also buy noise-cancelling headphones to refrain physical noises disturbing you throughout your online classes. Note that the distractions that I am talking about are not only limited to social media and physical disturbances present in your working environment. Distractions are subjective, hence, it is best if you identify them, and deal with it on a personal level.
4. Participate in Online Reviews
With the availability of different video conferencing platforms, participating in virtual reviews with your classmates is as easy as clicking a link. Not only this practice can enforce mastery of a topic through the Feynman Technique, but it is also a great way to interact with your peers and build relationships. You can do this by scheduling a weekly review with your friends while assigning particular topics to everyone involved in the online review. In this way, you are hitting two birds with one stone—you are learning and catering your need for social involvement.
5. Practice Study Breaks
This is the part of the blog where I share a few updates about my life with you. I am pleased and happy to share with all of you, that starting on Monday, I am officially entering a new academic year. I am a third-year college student now and in a blink of an eye, it has been two years since the first time I set foot in unfamiliar territory. Now, if there are lessons to take in this experience: first, time flies so fast, and second, study breaks are so important! Yes, you read it right.
As a medical laboratory science student, the amount of information to grasp is overwhelming, not to mention how exhausting it is too in the physical and emotional aspect. This is the reason why I start to value taking breaks in between my study sessions in my first two years in college. During these moments, I make it a point to engage in self-care and allow myself to momentarily pause and get rid of everything that is putting pressure on my shoulders. Either I meditate, do some warm-up, watch inspirational videos or read articles; anything that grants me a sense of autonomy. As for how they say it, studying medicine is a marathon, not a race. Therefore, in the process, sustainability is with utmost importance.
6. Consider Online Classes like Normal Classes
One of the most common mindset mistakes practised by students during online classes is the mentality of not treating their online classes like normal ones. Trust me, I have been there, I have done that. During the first few weeks of my midyear online classes, I used to wake up 20 minutes before the actual start of the class. I do not have a morning routine of eating a decent breakfast, drinking a hot cup of tea and taking a cold bath; an absolute opposite of how I face normal classes.
Fast forward, after a few weeks of starting my day that way, I observed a drastic decline in my performance. And as a medical laboratory science student, quick adjustments are crucial. As a response, I changed my outlook right away and engaged myself in action. Like normal classes, I started following a morning routine consisting of the habits I do to calm myself before anything else. These include waking up an hour and a half before classes start, and reading a self-help book while drinking a hot cup of tea beside me.
Not only that, I also designated a common place for studying in my room. By doing this, my brain creates a pattern by correlating a specific area in my surroundings to studying, like how a classroom stimulates the brain by conditioning it that it is a place for learning. I started taking notes as well just as how I do it in a normal classroom setting. Whatever the normal is for you, make an effort to achieve it, for in the long run, it pays dividends.
7. Take Care of Your Mental Health
With the amount of pressure the new learning system brought to the lives of the students all over the world, negligence on the importance of mental health has never been this prominent. Considering how the pandemic has transformed the lifestyle of the students, starting from its impact on social well-being, to its effect on learning. As a result, many students are reported to experience mental health struggles like stress and anxiety, an issue worth of a halt.
As the image above suggests, self care is not selfish, and it will never become one. Learn to reward yourself. From time to time, give yourself a pat on the back, acknowledge that you have done a great job for doing your best. Do not wait other people to do it for you, learn to do it for yourself. If possible, practice accountability to your family or to those people whom you trust the most. You can also start a journal where you can allow your thoughts to flow in a manner that provides you peace and comfort. Breath in psychological air, by doing this, you are giving yourself a favor.
Always remember: A pause is as important as continue.
Studying has its value, but at the end of the day, yours is the greatest.
Ask for help and guidance from other people. Keep in mind that with this new normal of learning, you are not alone in the battle. You have your family, friends, classmates and teachers to stay with you along the way. The process is not easy, rather rough and challenging, but may the reality of all good things take time and hard work act as your motivation to continue. Above all, believe in yourself and do not forget to pray, ask God for help, that He may guide you in this new phase of learning and chapter in your life.
Q&A: Question and Action
Do you have any other tips for online class? What can you do today in order to prepare yourself for the new normal of learning?
I would love to hear from you! Please, share your thoughts in the comments section below.
About the Writer:
Elijah Wayne Marin is a self-improvement blogger from the Philippines. He is a medical laboratory science student who began blogging in the midst of a pandemic. His goal is to empower young people in breaking their boundaries by providing tips, motivation and relevant information about personal development.
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