Coping and thriving while learning online

by Carmen Visser

There is no doubt that online learning is challenging. We no longer have the constantly fast Wi-Fi, quiet libraries or computer laboratories to complete our studies. Many UCKAR students have battled to complete the course work they need to.

Although some students might find online learning easier because they are in the comfort of their own homes and might not have the same distractions they had at varsity, many are finding it difficult. Some students struggle with difficult home situations, some do not have the facilities they need to study and others simply miss life on campus. Overall, our motivation to complete assignments and meet deadlines has plummeted. After completing term two online and at home, I have found a few tricks that help me stay focused and disciplined with my varsity work. I hope they can help you too.

The first and possibly most important thing to do during online learning is to acknowledge that your university experience is going to be different. Expecting the same environment that you found on campus will only lead to disappointment. Accept that things are going to be tougher at home. There are disruptions such as power cuts, network issues, interrupting family members or household responsibilities. Accepting these facts will help prepare you to deal with any disruptions that come your way.

The next crucial aspect is to find or create a workspace. This could be a study room, a desk or even just a seat at a table. By dedicating a certain area or space for your studies, you raise your motivation to work. When you physically enter this space, you will also begin to find yourself in a much more productive and focused mindset.

“Desk Aesthetics” - Image by author

You could also give your workspace some personality with décor or simple items that mean something to you. I have created a small corner on my desk, which I call ‘desk aesthetics’. Each item on this corner represents something that I love and it helps me stay calm while I work.

After you have created your workspace, it is important to stay informed and on track with your university deadlines. I have found that the easiest way to do this is to create lists and schedules. Maybe write down all the assignments due for the week in a list. Then you can plan what needs to be done in preparation for each assignment. Once you have done that, you can create a daily schedule. Try to make sure that you choose a variety of tasks and that they are all realistic. For example, planning to complete five different academic readings in one day will be boring and tiring.

Furthermore, try to keep an open mindset when creating schedules. You might not finish everything on your schedule for Monday. You might get ahead of your daily schedule. You might also have to adjust certain tasks. The lists and schedules are meant to help keep you calm and motivated, not add extra stress into your life.

Image by author

Another vital activity to do during online learning is socialise. Although many of us cannot visit friends during lockdown due to social distancing regulations, we are currently living in one of the most advanced technological worlds. Messages and phone calls are within our reach. It is important for you to keep in contact with friends and varsity peers, if you can. They are also going through online learning and can provide the support you might need.

Now that you have taken care of a few physical aspects of online learning, here are some mental ones. Try not to be tough on yourself if you are feeling emotional or unproductive. We are currently in a global pandemic and these negative emotions are normal. If you need to take a day off to keep yourself calm, do it. Your schedule will help you readjust your work.

In addition, it is important to give yourself breaks. These breaks can include whatever you need them to, as long as they let you relax. I have found it useful to take a lengthy break between each task on my schedule. Once I have completed my task, I tick it off and rest for a while. Ticking items off on a list is my way to celebrate completing them. You can celebrate completing tasks too. Maybe you do not find writing ticks as satisfying as I do. Instead you could fist-bump the air, give yourself a snack or even dance. You deserve it.

The final tip to cope and thrive with online learning is to be proud of yourself. Here you are, in the middle of a global pandemic, still completing your university degree. There will be a lot of bumps along the way, but you can still do it. You are amazing.

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