Hello everyone! A few months ago I wrote about my online learning experience and some friends asked me how I went about it so I thought I’d share that here too because, content.
I didn’t think we would need these tips but it turns out I have another online semester coming and so do some of you. I hope this isn’t too late!
Also, in an interesting turn of events, Malaysia is under a Conditional Movement Control Order in some states (again) which means I can’t work from the office so my internship is in my room. What better time to bring this post up than when I need it?!
Also, my next semester only starts next month but if I don’t post this now, I never will because I might give up on online school. (I really should be used to it by now.)
Have a routine
I know some people do not like routines but the least you could do is have a set time to wake up everyday. Usually with no classes/work, I’m up the whole night and then sleep around 8am. That was my horrible routine before my classes started and before my internship started so the first thing I did when I actually needed to be productive is, I tried to get my sleep right.
Waking up early and intentionally preparing for the day, at home, can be helpful in that it just prepares your mind for real work. However, I have no hope of ever making it to the 5am club.
I wake up, freshen up, make my coffee and jump into the day. A routine makes makes me seem more organised even though I’m not.
Have a designated work area
My work areas are my study table and the floor. Having a specific study place just sort of “tricks” your body into getting serious. You end up knowing that whenever you are at that table, it’s serious business only. Avoid the bed. Every class I joined from my bed didn’t go well. I’d just end up asleep and find myself alone in the “room”. Also having a work space helps you stay organised and just puts you in a work mode (Don’t ask how the floor did that).
Short story about sleeping: I fell asleep during a lecture so, I was there, but I wasn’t there and ended up missing the class. I literally just signed in and slept. Fast forward to weeks later, I decided to watch the recording of the lecture that I missed. So, as I’m watching the video, I suddenly hear ,”Wonani, what do you think it should be?” Silence. “Is Wonani here, I can see her name.” Silence. Then she just moved on after a few seconds of more silence. I was so shocked. I laughed so hard, alone, in my room. I’m pretty sure everyone in that class knew I was sleeping.
Attend the classes
It’s so easy to skip classes when they are online. Also, it’s so easy to actually attend classes because you don’t have to physically go. Attend classes whenever you can and if it so happens that you will miss the class, record the session or ask your lecturer to record the class. Do whatever you can to find out what you missed. So much is said that may not be in the slides!
Manage your time well
Full transparency, I am not the best when it comes to this but I try. I really do. I struggle but the times I’ve managed my time well I’ve had a good, productive day and I felt good about that.
Schedule your day
This point goes hand in hand with the point above. Decide what to study or work on and on what day. Of course, for a student, it’s almost impossible to follow the schedule because of how lecturers randomly give additional assignments. Having a study schedule just helps you stay organised and on top of your work. I use daily to-do lists to help me plan my days and crossing off things on the list makes me feel accomplished. A to-do list can be very helpful. I have not yet crossed out everything on my list in one day but I will someday.
Take note of submission dates
I can’t emphasize this enough. If you want to suddenly wake up from your good sleep because you just remembered you have an assignment due the following morning, then don’t take note of submission dates.
I use sticky notes for this and just stick them on my wall. You could use your phone or whatever else to remind you because I know what it’s like to forget you had an assignment.
Short story about sleeping (again): During my last exam session, I somehow fell asleep when writing one exam (online) and my roommate found me asleep and woke me up when I had less than 10 minutes to the end of the exam. I submitted that paper with only two seconds left to spare! Two seconds! I was literally shaking. In that moment, I felt like my internet connection suddenly became bad and it was taking forever to upload. I never told anyone about that because it was so embarrassing. The moral of the story is, don’t sleep when taking your exam at home.
Either ask questions in class or ask someone outside the class. I recommend asking your lecturer because that’s who you’re paying to actually explain things to you. If you don’t ask, you might remain permanently lost and ignorant which is very avoidable.
It’s so hard for me to study at home but I really didn’t/don’t have a choice. One thing people take lightly are open book exams. Online exams can be extremely disrespectful. Don’t assume because it’s open book you don’t actually have to study because the exam will for sure humble you.
If you don’t study before the exam, you end up studying during the exam which just wastes time. Not everyone is lucky enough to just wing it. I couldn’t really find answers online for any of the exams I wrote last semester. Can you believe the lecturer wanted me to actually understand what I was learning instead of just get everything from the textbook? Shocking, I know.
My point is, study. Unless you’re one of those who don’t really have to study but just understand things the first time. Unfortunately I do not belong to that group but I really wish I did.
I’m a strong advocate for taking breaks and sleeping unless I really don’t have time. I can only study one course for a maximum of 2 hours. My brain taps out after that so I end up having to take a lot of breaks. The problem is, my breaks last between either 2 hours or 24 hours. There is no in-between. So you have to be smart and disciplined about your breaks. Breaks are important just to give your mind something else to think about and to refresh yourself. Don’t forget to take breaks.
Look after yourself mentally and physically. Take breaks, get a face mask, close the books, take a walk etc. What good is all I’ve mentioned if you aren’t taken care of first? School/work can be extremely draining so look after yourself and prioritize yourself. You come before that degree/diploma.
I hope my short but sweet tips will be helpful for all those who just started a new online semester. If your semester is already in progress, I hope they help you too. If you are working from home, just tweak them a bit and I’m sure they will be helpful. Let me know if you have any other tips and tricks in the comments and please let me know how people focus on one thing for more than 2 hours!
Also, I don’t really write about my university life/ experience so maybe I should, for memories sake…but what is the point if I’ll be learning from my room for I don’t know how long? I suppose that’s a memory still.
Thanks for reading!