My Story: Making the Most of Virtual Classes
My first experience with remote learning was not because of a global pandemic. I was living abroad and my Masters degree program was located in the U.S. (my spanish level wasn’t...and still isn’t at the level to do an advanced degree). In some ways, it was strange. My academic life until that point had been in-person and I really loved the in-person interaction that I got from it. It definitely took a little adjusting, but once I got into a rhythm, I enjoyed it (though being at home comes with it’s own distractions→ Hello Netflix!). Here are a few things that really helped me out:
I had really thought that remote learning would mean that I was basically on my own, but that wasn’t the case at all. I still had a lot of interaction with my classmates through message boards, chats, video calls, and group projects. Video calls were the best and it needed less coordination that meeting up in person. I could just message a classmate and ask if they were free and we could often do a video call right away. I loved it and it made me feel more connected.
Setup Your Space
Setting up a good space to have class and study in is key. At school, everything about the environment is designed to foster focus and learning. Home? Well, there are likely a ton of distractions (especially if you aren’t really feeling like studying at the moment). Even though home had a lot of natural light, I had my desk facing a wall..in a corner. It reminded me of studying in the library during my undergraduate days and just helped me focus.
Voluntarily putting myself in a corner didn’t mean I was getting the best light. Let’s be honest, even if you are near a window, there are plenty of hours spent in the evening where you need a light. I put a HappyLight on my desk in the mornings for that first class of the day. I’m not a morning person AT ALL and having the HappyLight® there (and my trusty cup of coffee) helped wake me up and focus on what I was doing. Plus, the light is seriously bright and it made me feel less guilty about not going outside in the morning. Later in the day, I switched over to the SmartLight Desk Lamp (I’m a light nerd, what can I say). It was great to have a good light that I could move around as I needed.
The final piece of my setup was a good chair, which is nice since we don’t really have that option normally in a classroom (I count that as a win). I made sure I had a chair that gave me support and promoted good posture and was comfortable (but not so comfortable that I felt like going to sleep..).
Between classes you normally have a little break and walk to your next class. Depending on campus, it could take some time and I really missed having that. I noticed that I was just sitting in the same spot for hours at a time. I wasn’t moving, wasn’t drinking water and it was easy to not notice. I eventually started setting alarms to get up and move every hour or so (just like I would during a normal day). It definitely helped and I even took my breaks sometimes with classmates, joining them for a virtual coffee and chat.
So, you know, make the best of it
You might be a student, the parent of a student, or just someone who is in the new reality of working from home and it’s pretty different (like, REALLY different..we get it). Different doesn’t mean bad and going back to school this fall is really what you make of it. So, try out some of these tips and keep it all in perspective!