The year 2020 has so far presented one of the biggest crisis situations of the modern era with the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. All universities across the globe are moving towards the digital world for their mode of learning delivery and there is an air of apprehension as students become accustomed to studying online. CQUniversity is known as a leading provider of online teaching in Australia, hence, transitioning to this mode of sharing knowledge was not a major challenge.
I am presently in Term 1 of my second year and studying two units, one of which is planning my final year project and the other one is an elective (management unit), Leading Lean Projects, which is already an online unit. My main concern for this term was how to use the college facilities like library or laboratories for my units.
I would like to say that the transition to online has been quite a smooth process but there were few bottlenecks here and there. I would like to share those with you and how I overcame them.
1. Planning the course:
In this situation, planning the learning activities for each unit, pre-reading lectures and understanding tutorials, assessments and other activities is highly crucial. Establishing a schedule and sticking to it is the most important step. Then, I would suggest downloading and understanding the unit profile, highlighting the important tasks to be undertaken for the unit. Secondly, read the lecture slides and research about the topics before the online class for a better understanding of the unit material. Lastly, I would also suggest trying to solve the tutorial questions beforehand and take these tasks seriously. Trust me, following this advice will help you to work through your assessment items more easily.
2. Attend online like offline:
I know it might sound strange but try to attend the online classes as you would have attended the actual lectures. Log in a few minutes earlier and test your slides and dress appropriately. One important tip is to use the laptop while attending a class to get the most out of the class, and keep your camera always on, if possible. Always try to use a headset with a microphone, and be responsive to the lecturers at all times and have discussions as in normal classes. If you have doubts, use the Q&A section in the Moodle unit to ask questions and have discussions on topics with other classmates and the unit coordinator. Show enthusiasm and passion for the content you are learning by engaging more with the content and in the class, appropriately.
3. Take some time off screen:
Though it is very important to complete your assessments and attend lectures online, it is equally vital to take that time off. If possible, printout your lectures beforehand and extract audio of the lecture and analyse the lectures while listening to the audio only. Take a break from the screen, go for a walk, stretch-out, do some exercises or practise meditation. Taking such breaks is very crucial in order to increase your productivity and, in the end, excel in your studies too. Also reduce the added use of the screen in the form of social media.
4. Prepare a good environment:
During these extraordinary situations, having a dedicated workplace is really beneficial. Try to get a two-screen setup and a good chair with a proper desk is all you need to start to have a good work desk. Good lighting will also ensure that you are seen clearly and do not strain your eyes. One small piece of advice is to try to add an element of green plants (fake ones from Kmart will be a cheap buy) to your desk. There is research which shows green coloured plants increase productivity.
Feeling overwhelmed is normal. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Reach out to the Student Counselling team for support and contact the Academic Learning Center and Studiosity to improve your study skills.
Jeet Mukherjee is a current Master of Engineering student and member of the Social Squad – a group of content creators helping to promote student and campus life at CQUniversity.