Around seven million school level students and around half a million university-level students will be acquiring their education virtually after the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology decided to begin virtual classes beginning September 17, as to resume an education system that has been halted due to COVID-19.
“I was really worried about studying from home because the kind of environment prevalent here would not favor silent educational space,” said Rose Singh, a first-year student at the Kathmandu School of Law, expressing her confusion regarding virtual learning. “It was important for my family members to understand that even though I’m studying from home, it’s like studying in class and requires similar discipline.”
Like Rose, many students are initially overwhelmed by the uncertainties that come along with learning virtually for the first time. This article will be discussing some tips that will hopefully help students to succeed in their virtual learning setting:
Initially, students can get overwhelmed with information about class schedules, assignments, and examinations. The orientation, or the first day of class, is a good way to begin virtual learning, where all necessary information is provided to the students, allowing them to become familiar with the material, their teachers, and the environment. This is also a good time to ask any questions or concerns.
Institutions may adopt various digital applications to make education more systematic and to ease students into keeping track of their classes, assignments, and examinations. Although the information on these applications is provided to the students during the orientation, it can be a good idea to explore them ahead of time to make sure that they function well and are compatible with the students’ laptops, phones or tablets. Should there be any problem with the app, the student can contact their teacher immediately so that issues are resolved before the actual learning begins.
Discussion between teachers and students is an essential part of education. Apart from regular class sessions, teachers should allocate a few office hours weekly to have one-on-ones with the students, who can raise any issue that they are experiencing at the time. An online course can be challenging and make a student feel that s/he is not in control, but a one-on-one conversation with the teacher can really help the student to realize that teachers can be supportive outside of the class and in many areas.
Students can also form groups with their peers for class discussion and help each other understand concepts and ideas, holding each other accountable to be punctual with assignments and when studying for exams.
Additionally, students can use the group to also build social relationships by hosting virtual hangouts and parties with their classmates and taking time to get to know each other beyond the education setting.
Students tend to easily be distracted by social media, Netflix and YouTube while learning on the computer. In that case, they should designate some uninterrupted time weekly for reading, watching lectures, completing assignments and discussing in the class forums without being distracted. The schedule should not be daunting as the students can be fed up with the idea within a few days. The learning quality should be prioritized over the study hour’s length.
It is good to have a break after 30 minutes to rejuvenate the energy. Students should not continue staring at the screen even during the break, but drinking water and having a short walk around a house can revitalize the mind, eyes, and body for the next session.
Study space and organizing
Students should choose a peaceful space in the house to study for hours without interruption. They should let family members know ahead of time about their class schedules so that they won’t be interrupted during the lessons. Since phone calls and social media notifications can create a disturbance, cell phones should be kept far away.
It is also recommended to use a specific browser for the classes. A student should self-discipline him/herself to avoid social media and other distractions in the browser. They can use the features like an auto-opening of the previous tabs and saving the password. There will be several files and folders in the virtual classes. When the piles of files get higher and higher, students can easily lose track of the materials. So the students should develop a habit of creating a file under a distinguishable name and aligning them in a folder to find the file in the future easily. Organization is key.
Virtual education can provide students with the opportunity to take a degree from a prestigious university sitting in the comfort of their home and allowing them to be more flexible in trying to balance their academic and personal life.
For the future
Due to the availability of learning materials online, the ability to self-learn virtually continuously will be an important skill in the future. “In 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated thatas many as 375 million workers—or 14 percent of the global workforce—would have to switch occupations or acquire new skills by 2030 because of automation and artificial intelligence,” Sapana Agrawal, Aaron De Smet, Sebastien Lacroix, and Angelika Reich write in the McKinsey & Company. Hence, self-learning and reskilling are going to be an asset for the employability of the current generation, and distance learning due to the pandemic will no doubt be practice for the future.
Aashish Sunar, Sub-Editor and Writer for Kathmandu Pati English, covers politics, marginalized communities, international relations, economics, and sports. He is pursuing an undergraduate degree in International Studies and Economics at Soka University of America. He tweets @imAashishSunar.