Make the Most of Your Virtual Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic
In the past few weeks, responses to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have swept through the globe and landed in Madison — canceling in-person class meetings and forcing college students everywhere to finish the semester virtually.
This is an understandably stressful time for everyone: students, parents, and professors. When the World Health Organized declared COVID-19 a pandemic, universities across the country entered uncharted territory. In 2020, having a virtual meeting or two doesn’t seem out of the ordinary — but stepping completely out of the traditional lecture hall environment can be unnerving.
Here are some ways to make the most of your virtual education alongside your classmates and professors this spring. It’s never been more important to connect with those around us — even if we need to do it from six feet away.
Set up a comfortable workspace
Your workspace can make or break your productivity as a virtual learner. Everyone is different — don’t get too caught up in what your classmates are doing. Instead, focus on what environment makes you feel the most alert.
Here are some general guidelines to create a functional remote workstation:
- Maximize natural light if possible.
- Consider ergonomics. You don’t want to be sore after hunching over a laptop on your bed all day!
- Consider working in a different room than where you sleep.
- Try to make sure the surrounding area is quiet, and use headphones.
- Set up more than one monitor so you can watch lectures on one screen and take notes on the other, if possible. Connecting your laptop to your TV through an HDMI cable can be a great way to do this.
Maintain a regular routine
Maintaining a regular routine can help you stay focused and motivated. The distractions of being at home (whether that means an apartment or dorm room in Madison or back at home with parents) are different than being on campus; attending classes helps structure your day — following a schedule at home can help you overcome the temptations and distractions around you. Try blocking specific time for each class and for homework, whether you mirror the schedule you had when you were attending class or create one that makes sense for your new normal.
Each morning, get out of bed, practice your typical hygiene ritual, and move out of your bedroom to work if possible. (If not, move off your bed to a desk or a comfy spot on the floor). Commit to some type of exercise, and consider blocking off time for activities just like you would have done if you were still on campus.
Enjoy increased flexibility
The perk of building a routine while learning virtually instead of physically on campus is that you have greater flexibility to do what works for you — when it works for you. Take advantage of the freedom you have to set your day up in a way that works for you as an individual.
Here are some ideas to try:
- Pay attention to how productive you feel in the early morning versus the evening, and plan your studying when you’ll be the most efficient.
- Consider playing around with your workout schedule to find the time of day you feel best.
- Eat meals whenever you feel hungry instead of feeling forced to wait until a typical lunch break. (Be alert to avoid nonstop “grazing”… it’s much easier to constantly distract yourself with food/snacks than if you were sitting in a classroom…)
Take advantage of screen recordings and rewinding
Virtual learning beats out in-person classrooms in one key way: the ability to record your screen and rewind later on. You don’t need to feel nervous about raising your hand and asking your professor to repeat a bit of information you didn’t quite hear the first time. Instead, just rewatch that part of the lecture and supplement your notes!
For some students, learning online feels more difficult than getting to talk to classmates and teachers face-to-face — but embracing the benefits of recording, pausing, and rewinding can make a big difference.
Remember that we’re all in this together
COVID-19 is affecting everyone. If you’re struggling to adjust to a virtual learning environment, you’re not alone! Take it day by day, and show yourself grace. This is new for your classmates, professors, and university leadership, too. We’re all in this together.If there is anything Candid can do to help support you and your education during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Now, more than ever, it is important to prioritize your mental health and overall wellbeing.