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How to get the best out of online classes?

Rubaiya Tasnim Prapti | November 12, 2020 00:00:00

Samia (imaginary character) wakes up at the sound of her alarm and lets out at a sigh after realising it is already time for her first online class of the day. She instantly starts to regret the decision of not sleeping earlier last night. While wondering about how she can now concentrate on the class, she finds an idea of going to sleep right after joining the virtual classroom. So she opens her laptop, logs into her class, gives her attendance, lowers the volume and goes back to sleep.

The not so ideal situation of Samia is something that nearly all students of live online classes have dealt with one way or the other. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has forced a lot of educational institutions in the country to shift online for teaching. While this has definitely provided students with the opportunity to learn in a flexible environment, it has also made students' life harder in numerous ways. The common case is that many cannot align their normal learning process with online classes, hence, getting the least from those. A few things need to be remembered to get best of the online classes.

Treating it as offline

One of the biggest mistakes students do while taking part in online classes is not treating it as a traditional offline class. Simply joining the class and then wandering off to do other tasks always results in getting zero learning value. Therefore, it is very important that students wear something comfortable, sit in their own workspace, and have their note taking tools with them, like they do in physical classes.

Setting a distinct space

According to James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, "We mentally assign our habits to the locations in which they occur. Each location develops a connection to certain habits and routines." Now, most people associate the bed with the habit of sleeping and relaxing; therefore trying to study or work there turns out to be a futile experience. Hence, sitting somewhere else, such as a desk or the dining table is imperative. It is also necessary to keep the workspace clutter free, and to have necessary books, copies, pens, and other equipment at hand's reach.

Eliminating distractions

Mariam Munia, a student in her third year at IBA, Dhaka University thinks that it is very hard to keep concentration during online classes, as the temptation of napping or scrolling social media is too great. To make sure not falling victim to these temptations, it is best to close all tabs that are not needed for the class. Keeping the phone in a different room is also a foolproof method not to get caught up in texting. There are also different apps that let users block specific websites for a particular period of time, such as 'SelfControl' for Mac users and 'StayFocused' for Google Chrome browser users. Furthermore, students should let other family members know their class schedule and ask them not to interrupt during class times.

Task management

Following a schedule is essential for one not to get trapped under a heavy workload and end up trying to write a whole assignment an hour before the deadline. Using tools like Google Calendar is quite a simple way to keep track of all classes, deadlines, and important events, while to-do-list works great for daily habits. Even simple handwritten reminders and to-do lists work.

Active participation

Simply preparing the workspace and eliminating distractions is not enough to excel, if one does not understand the class at all. Note taking helps ensure students are really retaining all the information their professor is sharing. Students can use either pen and paper or some digital approach for this. However, a research by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer-- two researchers from Princeton University-- demonstrates that students who write out their notes on paper actually learn more. They try to capture the essence of the information, which helps in retention. Besides these, students must also ask questions, engage in discussions and participate in question answer sessions as much as possible to really keep their focus on class.

Afroza Begum, a science teacher at Kallyanpur Girls' School and College recommended a rather formal approach in this regard. "Students need to wear their uniforms or other dresses as they wore in offline classes, and keep their copies in front of them in order to pay better attention," she said. She further added that the learners should communicate with the teacher all the times so that the class does not feel boring to either parties.

Most importantly, crafting a scientifically backed strategy specifically prepared for individual usage is recommended, as everyone learns in different ways. In addition to that, following these few tips and tricks will make it much easier for anyone struggling with online learning, and help them retain information in a better way.

The writer is studying BBA at IBA, University of Dhaka. She can be reached at [email protected]

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