The benefits of online learning

Back in March 2020, the University announced that the remainder of the 2019/20 academic year would be completed online. Although this may have been a relief to some students, it’s fair to say that others were concerned about how it would affect their learning. With the start of the next academic year starting online too, we’ve gathered accounts from three different FBMH students who discuss how they have found this new way of learning…

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Saba Ahmed

Dealing with the outcomes of COVID-19 and having to worry about university at the same time was not ideal so I was extremely relieved when the university announced it’s closure and adapted to an online system. It would help to ensure my safety whilst also making sure that I didn’t fall behind on my work.

At first, I struggled with imbalance of things and ended up making notes late at night, using the recordings of the lectures on blackboard. I prefer to wake up and get all my work done instead of having to worry about it later in the day so this wasn’t ideal initially. In order to find the right balance between work and home life, I had to work on my time management and organisation skills. I developed a weekly time schedule where I prioritised assignments and then lecture notes. I made sure to do most work as soon as I woke up because  I struggle with procrastination so this was something I had to work on.

As well as developing my existing skills, the online learning system has helped improve my digital skills immensely. I have always been tech savvy so most of the adjustments to online learning has been easy for me. However, the adaptation to new software and methods of making notes was difficult at some points and required me to work differently.

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I had to adapt to online note taking which was digitally challenging for me at first. It turns out thought that taking online notes is easier than just using a typical notepad because you can just copy the lecture slides and then add any extra information that isn’t present on the slides! This helped me exceptionally when I was struggling to cope with the new system.

Being in an online learning environment has certainly grown on me and I would now say that I have started to favour this style of teaching because it gives me flexibility. Once I had formed a weekly schedule, I became less overwhelmed and started to be a lot more productive.

Chris Gunning

For me, the lockdown has been such a chaotic time in my life. The initial transition into doing my university work from home was stressful to say the least. As well as being a student, I’m also listed as a key worker, oftentimes doing 20, maybe 30 hours a week and I think this has definitely taken a toll on both my mind and my body. The fatigue that comes along with waking up at 3.30 AM has made it very difficult to focus on university.

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While it has been very difficult adjusting to the current situation, I have developed an appreciation for managing my own schedule. Even though I’m working such unsociable hours, the ability to work online has allowed me to continue work at any time of the day or night. Not only that, but I prefer to email lecturers to get help on assignments or lecture content and I feel as though I’m being supported despite the circumstances.

Lockdown has directly affected me in many ways, but one which affected my career was the premature end of my placement. While I was lucky enough to gain the experience that I did, I would have liked to see it through to the end. However, it did help me to realise that marketing is what I want to do with my life.

Fortunately, I am a part of the ‘social media generation’ and for me, working completely online is something that I would consider an ‘ideal,’. I also think that because the world is turning towards a digital era, it’s very beneficial to partake in online learning.

While there were many ways in which this pandemic has affected my university and work life, it has also affected my personal life and my respect for the things I would usually take for granted. I’ve found that I’m now able to set time aside for exercise, which normally is not something that I do regularly. It’s also allowed me to create a balance that I’ve never had with work, hobbies, and university.

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Tessa Higgs

Since the University closed its doors, my lectures are all being podcasted, lab Q&A sessions and sign language lessons are done over video, I’m expected to work on coursework remotely, and the number of emails I receive has tripled. It’s been hectic!

My fears about online learning were:

  • I wouldn’t be able to work the technology;
  • I would get irritated by technology, so would opt to not do the work;
  • I would have zero motivation to work from home, without the structure and support networks. that university provides.

Mainly, I was worried that my learning/performance would suffer, and my great grades would be ruined, as a result of my learning environment changing. The biggest challenge I’ve faced with online learning has been motivating myself as I often rely on the structure of my university timetable.

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Enough dwelling on my lack of motivation. Some aspects of online learning have gone well:

  • To my surprise, the technology has been fairly easy;
  • I’ve gained confidence with digital job applications, through using video calls, seminars and online assignments e.g., attended a Webinar about video interviews;
  • I’ve used the free time to research information for my dissertation, master’s, and career decisions e.g researched a lot of Deaf identity, which made me realise that I want to do a master’s in Clinical & Health Psychology.

As it’s likely online learning will continue for the foreseeable future, what do I still need to work on?

  • Start networking online (I talked about my need to network more in my 2nd blog) by updating my LinkedIn, & building an online presence
  • Work on finding internal motivation to work from home
  • Study in daylight hours, with others around me
  • Structure my days

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