Master online learning 101

Herman Aamir - March 15th 2021 - 4 min read

Hello people of the universe!

Today, I’m going to let you in on some dos and don’ts I have picked up from my own online learning experience this year. Hopefully you’ll be able to take away from these tips and that they’ll help you become more efficient in all aspects of student life.

1. Schedule, schedule, schedule!

You wouldn’t imagine how many times I’ve heard of students forgetting deadlines and missing assignments and this seems to have escalated during remote learning. One of the biggest tips I have for you is that when you confirm all your classes at the beginning of the semester, take some time to look at each of their syllabuses and record all the important dates (assignment deadlines, exams, lab work, etc.) on a calendar or planner. You could even post non-academic events (work schedule, appointments, zoom meetings, etc.) to make sure that you don’t double book anything. Digital planners are also a great tool if you're a person always on the go and need to see your schedule on the fly. I personally get a gigantic wall calendar for the year instead of a planner. This helps me visually see what weeks are my busiest for the month, helps me prepare for them mentally, and also organize my time accordingly. Color coding everything with different colors and highlighters can also be a way to separate events in a day, but also makes everything look aesthetically pleasing. Scheduling your daily/weekly life is also very important. More often than we like, homework and readings and practice questions and studying all get stacked on us at the same time, especially during exam season. It's important that we don’t use all our mental capacity to stress and become overwhelmed over all the work we have to do, as this can end up being counterproductive. Instead, try making to-do lists and take little steps in getting work done. If you need to, your daily to-do lists could even include the most miniscule or mundane tasks ever, like taking a shower or having breakfast or cleaning.

2. A proper place to study….

Trust me, at the beginning of this remote learning period, I felt like I was 1000 years old because of the backaches and neck cramps I was getting. It was because of my bad posture and slouching while studying for hours on the sofa or my bed. Getting a proper chair and desk in my bedroom was an instantaneous solution for me! As students, we’re always sitting and facing a computer screen or reading what seems like hundreds of pages of readings, so it's important to keep whatever you're working on at eye level so you’re not bending your neck for too long. That could mean working at a desktop and adjusting the screen height or stacking books under your laptop or the text you’re reading. Make sure to study somewhere you are comfortable and have minimal distractions. This can be hard to do, especially if you have moved back home to live with your families, like me, or are used to studying on campus. If possible, having multiple study spots can also help you be more productive so that you don’t end up sitting in one place all day. Working in one space only gets me extra bored and tired thus, more prone to distraction. I like to do more of my tedious work in my bedroom while going to work in my dining or living rooms for stuff that doesn’t require intense brain capacity for me, like writing or listening to lectures. This change of environment may also help you change your mindset when switching to study from one subject to another.

3. Join study groups, discords...Honestly, just find someone to talk to.

I know. I know. I was apprehensive too. But honestly, I would not have survived math last semester if it wasn’t for the study group I was in. Not only did they place more accountability on me to get the math homework done before our weekly meetings but also helped me go through the concepts I had trouble understanding. At the end of the day, all the people you’ll meet on these platforms established by your courses, are students too and they’ll be able to relate to your struggles the most, and, if possible, help you at any hour of the day. If that’s still not your thing, at least find a friend to talk to once in a while. Maybe even talking to your mom on a consistent basis might help you feel just a little less lonely and more secure during these times. And even if you can’t ask your mom about the fundamental theorem of calculus, just talk about literally anything! Or just listen to her talk about literally everything….But still, be sure to say “I love you” to your mom or give her a hug sometime before mother’s day this year.

If you have a little extra time on your hands, join a club (HYM is always looking to recruit more volunteers)! Or join a cool UAlberta workshop/seminar for a day!

Although these tips may not be perfect, they are certainly adaptable to your personal life. I hope y’all are staying safe and healthy!

Here’s a riddle to solve:

What gets wet while drying?