Using technology to communicate
We started online learning before the Easter break using Skype. It was an interesting format and worked pretty well for lectures when group work and discussion wasn’t required. However, when we separated off into groups, it meant that our tutors couldn’t interact with us as well and so after the other course reps and I discussed with our level leader, there was a decision made to move to a platform that could facilitate and encourage participation and small group discussion better.We moved entirely onto Microsoft Teams after the Easter break which all Leeds Beckett students have free access to. This platform allowed us to separate off into smaller groups for discussion and for tutors to come into those chats and check our understanding which was really helpful.
Confidence to speak in class
After breaking off into smaller groups, we would join back to a larger group and share what we had discussed. This worked really well for our course and encouraged people to discuss things with each other and then feedback later as they’d already had a chance to voice opinions and so I think a lot of us felt a lot more confident sharing our ideas after that way of working.We did also have our videos off, it wasn’t compulsory to be on camera, so if you did feel like going to a lecture in your PJs then now is the time to do it! Also, for the most part, we would have our microphones muted whilst the lecturer was speaking and then would unmute for the discussion which allowed for lectures to not be interrupted by background noise and helped with the flow of the lecture.
Tips for online learning
Having worked with the online learning format for a few months, there are a few things that I’ve learnt that I think are really important. I’ve created three top tips that should help make online learning easier.
Create a workspace
It’s really important to remember that online classes mean that where you live becomes a workplace as well as home space too. This can make it difficult to separate uni time from relaxation time and so it’s good to create a space where you work and keep work to that place. Ideally, this would be a room you don’t sleep or relax in, but this can be challenging as a university student as communal areas are shared and so most of the time you’re working in your room. It can still be massively helpful to designate a desk or section of the room as the work area. This way, when it’s time to relax, moving out of that area and onto your bed or into a communal area will be considered a different space that you associate with socialising and not work. Definitely try and avoid going to lectures from your bed as this could eventually lead to struggles with sleep as your brain will start to associate your bed with work not sleep.
Staring at a screen constantly is tiring and your screen time will be massively increased with online learning because you’re using a screen for things that you normally not be using a screen for, such as seminars and tutorials. I’d suggest taking a break when you can. It can be useful to go a walk or go out in the garden if you have one to get some fresh air or at the very least just take 5-10 minutes away from any screens. It will help you to focus more when you get back to the computer and so you will end up being more productive.
I know I mentioned earlier about lectures in your PJs and it’s very tempting to do it on a regular basis and I can guarantee almost everyone will do it at least once. However, it’s important not to get into the habit of doing it. Getting dressed allows you to get into the same routine you would do if you were going into uni. It also reinforces the workspace mentality that you have hopefully created from tip 1, allowing for the idea that you get up, get dressed and go and work in your workspace.