The transition to online courses at UBC has been a wild ride for a lot of us. Given the rapid switch to remote learning this term, this new environment of online learning has had its ups and downs. Many courses are hard to host online, some work easily. Many faculty members may be struggling to communicate with students or have difficulties with the technology required to teach an online course. Along with these are some benefits for people, like working from the comfort of their own home at their own pace. As Chapman Learning Commons Assistants and fellow students we (Miski, Kartik, Celia, and Sam) have compiled some of the benefits and challenges of this new environment, and we’ve also compiled some tips, tricks, and resources for getting through this.
Here are some of the benefits that we have experienced while transitioning to online learning! Working from the comfort of our own homes has its relative merits, this includes both school work and our professional careers.
An advantage to having our lectures recorded is that we can take a break from school whenever we need to!
Celia: There have certainly been days when I have desperately wanted to stay at home and try online schooling instead.
This is also a great chance for the shyer individuals in class to be able to finally add to the classroom discussion. Those of us in this group who are shy find that it’s a lot less daunting when you’re able to convey your thoughts through text.
Celia: I find it much easier to articulate myself on a Canvas discussion board when there aren’t 50 other eyes on me! Also, the virtual space provides a sense of anonymity when it comes to asking questions on Collaborate Ultra.
We also save so much time by not doing that dreaded daily commute, plus it’s actually more environmentally friendly to stay put!
Celia: With this extra time, I have been diving back into old hobbies such as water colour and finally catching up on some old Netflix series.
Being able to finally do the household chores that we’ve been putting off since the beginning of the term can bring about a certain gratifying pleasure.
Celia: This has been the first time in a few months that I have had an opportunity to look closely at the state of my bathroom ledges, the amount of dust that has accumulated on them is shocking!
As we’ve stated above, working from home does have its relative merits but also challenges. Here are some of the downsides that we have experienced while transitioning to online schooling.
Students, staff, and faculty have all had to adjust to taking and receiving their course content online. Some students we know have found this format to be more challenging than an in person lecture.
Kartik found this to be somewhat accurate. He has a marketing class and the professor absolutely loves teaching. Every class was an engaging and discussion based learning experience. However, with the switch to online classes, the learning experience changed too. The professor who was thrilled to come to class and interact with his students now had to talk over a mic into a computer with limited student interaction. He did not enjoy the online environment because it was missing the human interaction element. As for Kartik, it became harder to concentrate on the lecture with a lot more distractions present in sight. In a classroom lecture all eyes are on the professor and the content. However, in a home/online environment you can be listening to the lecture and also be browsing the internet or your phone. Adjusting to the new learning method was tough, and it took a lot of self-discipline to make online learning similar to a classroom setting.
Some of our syllabi have been adjusted in response to this situation, as a result the weighting of some projects, assignments, and final exams have proven to be an unpleasant surprise for other students we know.
Many students do not function well in their home environments, we can all relate to procrastination and a lack of motivation sometimes.
For Kartik it has been a challenging time staying on top of completing reports, presentations and studying for the last set of midterms. Usually he would be outside using the study spaces in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, Koerner’s Library or quiet study rooms anywhere on campus to finish his work. He only returned home to either eat, relax or sleep at the end of the day. With plenty of deliverables still remaining at the end of year, the comfort of your own home may act as an obstacle for you to finish your studies and projects. However, Kartik balanced this over-comfort with setting shorter deadlines through the day and going for runs to stay awake and his energy levels up in order to self-discipline and stay motivated.
Because of the social distancing recommendations, some people have had a difficult time adjusting to being alone.
We understand all too well how this transition might feel for you, we are students just like you after all. Here are some tips that we have found useful, and we hope that they will prove useful to you as well!
- Try to keep track of your due dates and final term projects, it is so easy to get behind or get lost now that you will no longer be attending school physically.
- Celia: If you don’t already have an agenda I highly recommend at least printing out some weekly/monthly planners to keep track of your due dates. There are plenty of free printables available on Google or if you are particularly excel-savvy you can make your own on a spreadsheet!
- If you need further help with managing your time, the Chapman Learning Commons has a wonderful Time Management Toolkit available for you to use!
- If you are feeling the harsh side effects of social distancing, here are some ways to keep in touch with your friends and loved ones without breaching barriers!
- You can always try out new platforms for online interactions/study sessions such as Discord, Google Hangouts, or even a classic Facetime session with friends.
- If you need some time off to recuperate, our colleague Lia recommends using the Google Chrome extension called Netflix Party which allows you to stream shows with a group of people at the same time!
- Clean up your space! An uncluttered space leads to a less cluttered mind.
- Try to do a few exercises at home to make yourself more active and boost brain productivity.
- There are plenty of free Youtube channels that can help you stay in optimal health, while you’re doing your online lessons. Celia recommends Blogilates because she also provides you with tons of different workout plans that are mapped onto a calendar! If you’re a beginner to at home exercise, try the Blogilates 28 day workout calendar to get you started.
- Make sure to take a break every once in a while in between your studies.
- Check out the Pomodoro Technique on our blog!
We hope you find these tips helpful. It’s important to remember that you and your classmates are all experiencing this together. It’s okay to feel upset, stressed out, and confused as this continues, and remember that resources are still available for you if you need extra support. Speak to your faculty, speak to a mental health professional, and take steps to make sure you’re safe and healthy.
Stay tuned for our next post on some CLC Assistants’ personal experiences during this time!
Check out this link from UBC if you need some help managing your mental health.
Second year UBC student Shawn Cheng discusses strategies on coping at this link.
This article is aimed at helping teachers understand how to help students succeed during these times but we (as students) can certainly read it from our perspectives as well.
The University of Toronto has compiled a list of tips to help students remain grounded during these times.
Extra Reads from UBC Related to COVID-19: