The transition to online learning
The way we work has had to change dramatically this year. Even as a History student with relatively few contact hours in non-pandemic times, the busyness of my timetable has dropped a lot this year.
Of course, I do still have lectures, but as you may already know, they’re uploaded in advance of the seminar and I’m free to watch them whenever I want to within that timeframe. It’s not that my workload has decreased (it’s actually very much the opposite), but that the way I work has changed.
But how does that affect my learning? Well, for a start I’m going to need even more self-discipline than usual to do all of the reading and lectures each week. An almost empty timetable gives the illusion of free time, which is a dangerous illusion to be under when deadlines are looming.
To stay on top of my work, I’ve created my own unofficial timetable. It means I can get all of my work done at a reasonable time of day without feeling either burnt out or like I’ve not done enough each day. I like it because I know which modules I should be working for each day, which makes the workload seem much more manageable.
Something which has taken slightly longer to get used to is online seminars. I didn’t quite know what to expect before term began – I wondered how would they work, and whether anyone would speak in them. I’m not going to lie, they can be a little bit awkward when someone is stuck in the Teams waiting room, or we have to work out how to split into smaller breakout rooms for discussions, but now that we’ve done it a few times it is becoming a smoother process and I think we’ll get more used to it as term continues.
One thing I’ve become more aware of since the start of term is how I need to consciously look after my wellbeing in a way that I didn’t really before. The lack of a change of scene between where I do my lectures, seminars, and reading seems to have an effect on me if I don’t take regular enough breaks, and it can really affect my mood. I’m one of those people who likes to leave the house at least once a day anyway, but now that I’m spending the day almost exclusively at my desk, cabin fever sets in very quickly. I’ve found that going for a couple of short walks each day helps me – I can genuinely feel my mood lifting while I’m out. If you’re feeling a similar way, I would really recommend that you try it.
The transition to online learning was always going to be interesting as it was something I absolutely wasn’t expecting to do when I decided to go to university. However, though the change has been very noticeable, and I do really miss being on campus, I am still enjoying my degree and the new formats of teaching are starting to feel a lot more natural.