As the semester is finally kicking into gear, I think we can all say that virtual learning is confusing and stressful at times. It’s hard to adjust to a totally online classroom space. While we try to get through the rest of this pandemic, let’s make the best of our virtual learning. Here are 10 tips that I have found useful to make the online experience as smooth as possible:
1. Try to keep your camera on most of the time.
Yes, it can be annoying to constantly be on camera, but I find that I am able to pay a lot more attention to class when I am seen. In a way, it holds me accountable in the classroom and keeps me engaged knowing that people can see if I am off task. If you struggle with focusing in class, this could help you out.
2. Make sure the space behind you is not distracting.
This seems like an obvious tip, but having a clean and organized space behind you on a Zoom call will make the learning experience a lot better for your classmates. If you have your closet door open or if you have stuff visible on your floor, it draws the attention of others. Keeping your space put together will not only help you, but it will keep other students from losing focus in class as well.
3. If you have trouble paying attention, try using a fidget toy to focus.
I find this one to be very helpful. When I am in class, I make origami so my hands have something to do while I listen. Keeping yourself active in other ways while in long lectures can help you focus on what’s happening in class. It also gives you a way to release some of that pent up energy in a less distracting way.
4. Keep the space around you clean and open.
Similar to keeping your background clean, keeping the tabletop around you clear can help you declutter your mind for class. It’s hard to pay attention when there is random stuff all over the place while you are trying to write notes. Tidying up your area some will make the learning experience go a lot smoother.
5. Write physical notes instead of typing them.
I have been doing this tip way before we moved online. Writing out your notes physically is a lot more conducive to remembering the information from class. This is even more important now that we are all virtual. It has become even harder to remember what happens in class. Keeping a notebook and pen by you can make it a lot easier to engage with the class material.
6. Stay in a private space if you are easily distracted.
If other people are distracting you, try to be in a more private space. While it is fun to have your roommates and friends around, they can make it a lot harder for you to focus in class. It’s already difficult, so it’s best to keep the distractions to a minimum while learning online.
7. Use a headshot as your Zoom profile picture.
If you don’t want your camera on, having a headshot as your profile picture can be very helpful. Seeing your face on screen can make teaching a lot easier for your professors. They can still see your face, and it makes it more like an in-person classroom.
8. Keep a schedule for all your Zoom calls.
With all these different Zoom calls, it can get confusing to figure out when they are and how to join. Keeping a schedule with all the meeting times and IDs for the Zoom calls will make getting ready for class a lot less hectic.
9. Make sure you eat and use the restroom beforehand.
This one is also kind of obvious, but try to eat and use the bathroom before class. Being hungry and needing to go can be very distracting and make it hard to focus. Taking care of your physical needs will clear up your mind and allow for a nicer learning experience.
10. Mute yourself before class starts.
Last tip, of course, is to make sure you are muted. It’s really embarrassing to be talking to your roommate and have everyone in the class hear your conversation. Also, if you happen to say something not appropriate for class, it would just be even worse. Save yourself some trouble and keep that mic muted unless you are participating in class discussion.