Online learning
Here’s why online learning may be the best thing that could have happened to you. Source: ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP

COVID-19 has radically shifted how thousands of students across the globe learn, and how educators teach, in an incredibly short amount of time. 

But as universities close and online learning takes centre stage, we know the transition hasn’t necessarily been smooth for everyone. 

Wonky Internet connection and — for international students who have chosen to go home to their respective home countries — coping with vastly different time differences could mean staying up till the wee hours of the morning just to keep up with Zoom lectures.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the challenges students everywhere are facing with the mass transition to online learning.

Despite that, online learning isn’t a handicap when you think about it. Here’s how university students can make this new normal work for them:

Rewire your thoughts

Online learning

Online learning means having more time for yourself. Source: Alain Jocard/AFP

In the 90s, Amazon was just an online marketplace for books. Today, it’s one of the most valuable public companies in the world. Founder Jeff Bezos is now one of the world’s richest men.

Amazon’s story is one about being adaptable and flexible.

During this pandemic, it should be your story too. As your university life changes massively, this is the time to prove have these Amazon-like attributes loved by employers everywhere.

Sure, many students have complained that they did not pay thousands of dollars just to watch pre-recorded lectures, but it’s worth remembering that this is a temporary measure. Rather than look at the negative aspect of things (ie. I don’t like online learning), it’s essential to shift a negative mindset and be responsive to change instead. 

Rather than complain about the difficulties, think about how learning remotely allows you to save time from your daily commute (which translates to more sleep!) or how being at home means you get to spend some quality time with your family, housemates and/or pets, or how online lectures gives you more time to look up things you don’t understand, which you wouldn’t traditionally have done in a traditional classroom.

Use video conferencing tools to keep in touch

Even Boris Johnson and his entire Cabinet is doing it. Zoom is free and easy to use, so get on it to call your friends, your mum, even your professors if you need to ask some questions.

There are many other tools that can help promote some sense of normalcy into your life. For instance, there are Skype and Google Meet if you’re worried about Zoom’s privacy issues. Or check out Houseparty, which is like Zoom but more fun. You get to be in a “room” with your friends and can play various games with up to eight people, such as Heads Up, Trivia and Quick Draw.

Just be sure to keep in mind some of the video conferencing fails to avoid.

Use technology to your advantage

Online learning

Use technology to wipe our distractions. Source: Amanda Andrade-Rhoades /AFP

With recorded lectures available online, you’re under no watchful eye to be disciplined, unlike life on campus where you’re required to turn up to class at a particular time. 

We know being at home or in your student dorm means getting distracted by Netflix and celebrities on TikTok, but that won’t necessarily spiral out of control if you can nip the problem in the bud. 

There are many apps that you can use to keep distractions at bay and focus on studying. Test them out. Remember, this lockdown isn’t a vacation from your studies — the race culminates with a degree, which means you have to keep on your toes and continue going at full throttle. Keeping up with what the British royal family is doing for one of their prince’s second birthday does not take priority.

Have a source of motivation

For some, keeping the motivation up and running during the duration of online learning can be a challenge. 

But this is the time to dig deep and find a solid source of inspiration — whether it’s in a book, motivational YouTube videos, the Instagram of overachieving acquaintances. Find ways to keep yourself motivated and expose yourself to this source of motivation every. single. day. 

We recommend “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins, nicknamed the “The Fittest (Real) Man in America”. Here’s a snippet of the book:

“For David Goggins, childhood was a nightmare – poverty, prejudice, and physical abuse colored his days and haunted his nights. But through self-discipline, mental toughness, and hard work, Goggins transformed himself from a depressed, overweight young man with no future into a U.S. Armed Forces icon and one of the world’s top endurance athletes. The only man in history to complete elite training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller, he went on to set records in numerous endurance events.”

Now, how’s that for motivation?

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