For most students, Zoom classes are the new normal. While they do admittedly have a lot of advantages–among the chance to work from home (which comes in handy in the middle of a pandemic)–they can also be quite chaotic and stressful. Having attended many Zoom seminars in the past months, I learned quite a lot about the challenges that come with online learning. For everyone who’s still trying to adjust, I’ve collected a few tips that’ll hopefully help you get through this weird time of online teaching.
1. Create a Regular Study Space
Even though it might be tempting to do so, don’t stay in bed or sit on your sofa during a zoom class. Instead, find a quiet place in your flat or house that allows you to focus on class (and that has a decent WiFi connection), and make it your consistent place for learning. If you’re struggling to stay motivated at home, I recommend going to your university or local library (only if possible, of course!).
2. Eliminate Distractions
Make sure to get rid of all distractions before you start your Zoom class. This includes switching off your phone, decluttering your workplace and turning off the TV/radio/stereo. If you’re living with other people, ask them to not disturb you when you’ve got an online class. You may also want to tidy your room and dress up so you feel more comfortable seeing yourself in the camera 😉
Saying something during an online class may feel daunting when all you see are giant heads staring at you up close. But if you want to say something or have a question, just do it! You’re definitely not the only one feeling uncomfortable talking to your laptop 😉 Also, avoid looking too much at yourself as it can make you feel more insecure (also remember that in a real class you can’t look at yourself either). If you don’t feel comfortable enough to speak up or it’s just not possible, you can use reactions to engage with your class. On Zoom, non-verbal reactions include: raise hand, clap, yes, no, go slower, and go faster. You can also use the chat to ask something or comment on what’s been said.
4. Take Breaks Between Classes
If you’re feeling exhausted after a long day of online classes, you’re definitely not alone. “Zoom fatigue” is a real thing. Being on a video conference requires a lot more focus than a face-to-face chat. The reason for this is that when we see a person only inside a small rectangle, we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expression, gestures or the tone of the voice. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to take regular breaks. Leave your desk, walk around or stretch, get yourself a cup of coffee, and disconnect for a moment. Give your brain a break whenever possible.
5. Treat Online Classes like Real Classes!
Let’s face it, online classes are definitely not the same as face-to-face classes. Staring at people talking inside small rectangles on your laptop screen just feels different from being in a classroom full of people. And yet, online classes are real classes. So prepare yourself the same way you would prepare for a face-to-face class, listen actively, take notes, and ask questions.
6. Make the Best of It!
Online classes may not be as fun as real classes and can feel isolating, but in the end, there’s nothing you can do about it. So try to make the best of it. Don’t be too hard on yourself or expect everything to work out perfectly. Transitioning from traditional class teaching to online instruction is a difficult and new challenge for all of us. You don’t have to know everything or feel comfortable right away. Take all the time you need to adjust and know that you’re doing just fine.
I hope that these tips are somewhat helpful for everyone struggling to adjust to this new normality. Remember that it’s a challenge for everyone and it’ll just take time to get used to online learning.
If you’ve got any further tips, please share them in the comment section below!