Learning in a COVID-19 World
Due to the current COVID-19 situation, many schools have decided to hold some or all of their Fall 2020 classes online. This difficult decision is one that will affect students of all ages from all around the country. No one knows what to expect when students return to school this fall. However, the events of the past few months have shown us one issue. Many students are struggling to adapt to this new way of learning.
Many students, myself included, had to finish the recent Spring 2020 semester completely online. This change was unexpected and left many people struggling to make it through the final part of the semester. Not only did this negatively affect the academic success of various individuals, it also harmed their mental well-being. Both students and teachers found themselves unprepared to deal with the new aspects that came with transitioning completely online.
To help make this transition easier for the Fall 2020 semester I’ve detailed solutions to two of the most common struggles students face when taking online classes.
Online Learning: Common Problems & Solutions
Problem: Trouble Focusing
>Going from an in-person class where you’re face to face with the professor to an online class where you’re face to face with your laptop is extremely difficult. Being at home opens up a world of distractions you would never have to deal with in a classroom setting. In a classroom, you have a teacher there to hold you accountable for things such as being on your phone, paying attention, getting your work done, etc. However, when you’re at home alone, you have to be the one holding yourself accountable. In reality, it takes an immense amount of discipline to sit down and focus on your schoolwork. With the distractions of television, social media, video games, napping, and more all right in front of you, it can feel almost impossible to focus solely on schoolwork. So, how do you get yourself to a place where you can focus?
Solution: Get on a Schedule
>One of the easiest ways to fix a problem with focusing is to create and follow a daily schedule. Many times, when we get distracted or procrastinate it’s either because we’re bored or because we have too many options and aren’t sure what we should do next. By making a schedule, you simplify your day by limiting the amount of choices you have to make. In addition to aiding with focus, creating a schedule is also a great way to lower stress when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Instead of worrying about how many things you have to do, you will have a schedule. With a schedule you now have a detailed plan outlining a manageable and less stressful way to complete all of your tasks in a timely manner.
>To make a daily schedule, start each morning off by compiling a list of everything you wish to accomplish that day. Then, arrange the items in whatever order you think will be the most effective for your unique situation. Remember to schedule as many breaks throughout your day as you feel necessary and don’t overwork yourself. If you have a really hard time focusing, try working for 30 minutes at a time and then taking a short 5-10 minute break. Don’t worry if you go a little bit off schedule. Try to stay as close to your plan as possible and be flexible if you can’t stick to it perfectly.
>The most important thing is that you make a schedule that works for your individual needs. If it makes you feel better to have an incredibly detailed plan, make a strict schedule that accounts for every minute of your day. This eliminates the problem of becoming bored or getting overwhelmed by all the choices you have regarding what you could do next. If you’re not good with strict schedules, make a goal-based schedule instead.
For a goal-based schedule you’ll want to create a list. This list should include a few tasks you wish to accomplish in a certain time period. This way you can work on your tasks in whatever order and at whatever pace you want. A goal-based schedule is especially good for people who have trouble focusing on one assignment for a long period of time and would rather switch back and forth between different subjects instead of finishing a single subject at once. To give you a more visual idea of how this would work, I’ve included brief examples of each type of schedule:
8:30am-9:00am = Wake up and eat breakfast
9:00am-9:30am = Do math homework
9:30am-10:00am = Work on English homework
10:00am-11:00am = Start working on my essay
Goals: 1) Eat breakfast 2) Finish math homework 3) Start my essay 4) Work on English homework
Goals: 1) Eat a snack 2) Take a break
Goals: 1) Clean my room 2) Eat lunch 3) Work more on my essay 4) Do my science homework
>For some people, the idea of taking classes from home while sitting on your couch in sweatpants or pajamas sounds great. However, for many students this is not the case. They may need the routine of going to class every day and getting to interact with their teachers and classmates. The in person portion plays a huge role in their academic success and mental well-being. As a result, it becomes very easy for those students to start feeling depressed, lonely, numb, indifferent, and/or unmotivated when they’re stuck at home alone all-day taking classes online. This lack of personal interaction causes many kids to feel increasingly disconnected. As they require the connection from their friends, teachers, classes, and overall campus life. This leaves them craving human interaction. So, how do you stave off loneliness when you’re stuck at home alone?
Solution: Actively Work to Connect with Classmates
>At the start of the semester, try to set up an online video chatting group with your friends. Choose around 4-5 people and pick a specific day and time each week where everyone can get together virtually. Not only can this help ward off loneliness, but it also gives you a set thing to look forward to every week. It is important to note that these video calls don’t have to revolve around school or classwork. Even just having a quick chat about how everyone’s week was can be enough to brighten your day and make you feel a little less lonely.
>Remember that you can form as many weekly online video chatting groups as you want, and that each one can serve a different purpose. One can be for the students in your math class. Another could be for your friends who are in other classes or majors. A third one could be for your friends who go to school somewhere else, etc.
>Anytime you start to feel lonely, don’t ignore that feeling or tell yourself that it’s just an unavoidable side effect of remote learning. Everyone gets lonely and feeling lonely is perfectly normal. But, you should never feel like there’s nothing you can do to ease that loneliness. Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call your friend, parent, sibling, significant other, or anyone else you have a desire to talk too. Do it, even if it’s just for a quick and casual conversation. Make sure to reach out to your teachers or guidance counselor if you begin to feel disconnected from your classes or are having a hard time with online learning. Try to use other methods such as social media, texting, email, or letters to stay connected with others. Even things like virtual games can help.
Overall, online or remote learning can be difficult and takes a lot of getting used to. However, following these tips and making sure to take advantage of the available resources can help make the transition much easier.