Photo Credit: Kelly Sikkema (via Unsplash)
Memorial University announced that students will be returning to an online learning environment until January 31st, 2022. With only one successful in-person semester under the university’s belt since Fall 2019, many students dread returning to online learning. Meanwhile, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to reach record-breaking case numbers across Newfoundland and Canada.
As stress levels rise due to COVID-19 and the pressures of online learning, here are eight online learning tips from fellow students that can help Memorial University students prepare and successfully start their Winter 2022 semester online.
1. Make Time for Movement
“Walking/exercising every day was essential for my mental health last online term” (SW).
“I recommend just getting up to walk around! In Residence, I would study in a room down the hall and purposely leave stuff in my room like a book I didn’t need till later or something, and when I went to get it, I wouldn’t let myself go back for more than 5 mins!” (ER).
Exercise and movement are beneficial regarding stress and overall health and well-being. So while navigating online learning, if you’re feeling stressed, try and get moving! There are many great options for exercising and general movement beyond going to the gym.
For example, Pippy Park has cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails and rentals for $5, The Loop at Bannerman Park is a great spot to go skating, The Works at MUN also has a ton of fitness facilities to check out.
2. Get Ready Everyday
“Getting ready as you would if you are going to campus is a great tip! It helped me a lot last time! PJs are great, but they take away from productivity” (LS).
“Getting dressed every day as if I were going on campus helped a lot with my lack of motivation” (SW).
Online learning makes it easy to neglect to get ready like you would be on campus in person; after all, who cares if we can keep our camera off? However, if not getting prepared impedes your productivity or makes you lazy, get ready in whatever way will make you feel good and ready to tackle the day!
3. Find a Dedicated Space for Studying
“Dedicated space that is just for studying helps me” (CG).
“This space should ideally not be close to where you eat/sleep/relax as your brain will go into an eat/sleep/relax mindset” (JH).
Although online learning can be done from anywhere, having a dedicated space for studying can make a difference regarding productivity. Whether it is a kitchen table, your desk, a cosy coffee shop, or the perfect couch corner – try and find a dedicated space for studying, see what happens!
4. Treat Online Learning like a 9-5 job
“Treat school online like a 9-5 job. Take two 15-minute breaks and an hour for lunch. If you find yourself on top of or ahead of everything, work on things that aren’t due yet. Using that method will leave evenings free 99% of the time. It will also help establish some form of routine and normalcy” (NH).
Online Learning makes it easy to work all day long. If your class schedule allows, try and take the 9-5 approach to study, even if only a few times a week. Establishing set hours for studying may increase productivity.
5. Take Breaks
“Be careful to not push for too long; 15-minute breaks after an hours’ work helps my brain stay focused” (CG).
“Taking some time to work on puzzles or brain teasers for at least 10-15 minutes per day is really useful!” (AP).
“I love playing the guitar, so I used to procrastinate with that, but now I put my hobbies in the schedule, so I know that I have time to do the things I enjoy during the day too” (Anonymous).
“I sectioned off time each day for each subject helped me stay on top on my work as well as using a Pomodoro timer to ensure I was giving myself some breaks” (VC).
“Make sure to get outside for fresh air (even for a few minutes to fell the snow)” (sic) (CG).
Breaks are crucial regarding productivity and wellness. They can allow you to return to work with a fresh mind and allow you to engage with hobbies and passion projects that make you happy. Just as a workplace will give you a break, take breaks at home.
6. Explore Studying Techniques
“Learn the spaced repetition technique. Using spaced repetition flashcard software like Anki can help you remember much more than just reading notes” (CM).
Passive studying is super easy while online learning; however, highlighting loads of information or re-reading text isn’t always efficient long-term. Instead, try different studying techniques and resources such as Anki or Quizlet. These resources encourage active recall and repetition.
7. Organize Deadlines & Important Course Dates
“On the first or second day of class, put aside some time to go through each syllabus and write down due dates for evaluations and then put them in a calendar or just in order on a sheet of paper. It has helped me through both remote and on-campus semesters to keep me on track and never miss a deadline!” (KM).
“I do really well with a schedule, so I make a study schedule, and I actually use the screen time settings on my phone to block social media, and things I know are procrastination apps during the times I want to study” (Anonymous).
During the semester, staying organized is essential, especially when online learning. There aren’t always many conversations surrounding upcoming assignments and due dates. Reviewing the syllabus and making a schedule of critical course dates at the beginning of classes is essential to a semester of success! Whether you choose to use a physical agenda, a reminder app, or Google Calendar, keeping yourself on track is one of the best things you can do!
8. Make a To-Do List
“One more thing that really helps me is making a list of things you want to accomplish with studying for the course, like I have a big list of all the lectures and assignments I want to go through like “L1, L2, A1, etc.” then I cross it off every time I finish something, which keeps me motivated to cross more things off,” (Anonymous).
“I found making myself a schedule week by week helped quite a lot” (VC).
If you are someone who loves lists, making a weekly or daily to-do list (or both) can ease your mind and keep you organized all semester. Amazon has some great daily to-do lists such as this Daily Planner; however, the notes or reminder app also works great!
“Not Covid related, but I WISH someone had told me about programs that automatically do your references for you (like Mendeley) early on in my undergrad!!” (AR).
“I found dry lectures would make me sleepy, so I started doing those detailed colouring books or puzzles while listening! It kept me awake and engaged in what was being said!” (NB).