The transition to virtual classrooms nationwide following the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected nearly everybody in one way or another has, inevitably, brought with it a few challenges.
It’s not easy completely changing class structure and schedule, moving from a traditional classroom setting to a virtual learning environment. For students at schools like Joyce, which specializes in nursing education and other healthcare-related degrees, many instructional methods such as clinical simulations or other hands-on practice take a tremendous amount of adjustment to replicate virtually.
Nevertheless, this is the reality we face in the coming weeks. In light of this, here are five helpful tips for making the most of your virtual experience while maintaining social distancing and following the guidelines and regulations provided by your local leadership.
Whether your school is using Zoom, Skype, Facetime, Slack, Blue Jeans, or some other telecommunication software, it’s important that you understand how to use it properly. A few suggestions may include:
The term “social distancing” is now nearly ubiquitous across the globe. However, this phrase may be somewhat misleading. Social distancing does not mean we must avoid all interaction with others. Rather, as outlined by John Hopkins Medicine, we are encouraged to physically distance ourselves 6 or more feet from others and avoid large crowds or gatherings of people such as airports, movies, or concerts.
If you are with children, roommates, or other family members, make an effort to spend quality time with them. This interaction is important to break up your day and provides needed social interaction.
Find ways to continue communicating with others. You can practice social distancing while still being social. This will help you retain a sense of normalcy and social involvement that is beneficial to your overall health.
Many of the students I have spoken with have mentioned that they have concerns about staying motivated while at home. Admittedly, taking away the physical classroom setting and moving to classes from home can have a detrimental effect on the psyche. As a student, your schoolwork may be secondary to a number of things like job or children. It is important to create a routine and to set aside specific blocks of time to work on school assignments. This can help make schoolwork from home more manageable and productive. Likewise, having a specific location for these activities helps provide barriers for family members, reducing interruptions, and increasing focus. This routine will foster a sense of normalcy for your family as they stay at home.
Joyce is maintaining synchronous virtual instruction to help keep student rhythm as consistent as possible. Without the social accountability that comes with doing work in a classroom, many students may adopt an attitude of “I’ll do my homework when I get to it,” but that leads to procrastination, disengagement, and can lead to suffering grades.
While it’s certainly important to stay up to date on the latest developments regarding COVID-19, spending hours each day constantly reading the news and watching the number of cases rise may cause unnecessary panic or discouragement. Take time each day to unplug, disconnecting from the never-ending cycle of media and news updates. Remember, it’s only temporary. This too shall pass.
Playing with your children or with roommates are good ways to disconnect. Try board games, card games, or a puzzle, or another activity that gets your mind off of things.
Nobody can stay engaged in school from sunup to sundown. It’s critical to take a break every once in a while and do something you enjoy. Go for a walk, paint, read a book, or simply cook your favorite meal. Brown, McDaniel, and Roediger’s popular book Make It Stick talks about the importance of “spaced repetition,” meaning you study a topic and then take time before coming back to it. Studies show that this will help you understand and remember the material on a much deeper level than “mindless repetition” will.
Many students tell me they cannot wait for things to go back to normal. While I agree, as an administrator in healthcare education, I’m quick to realize that simply hanging on until that day comes is not good for one’s emotional, mental, or physical health. The best way to thrive is to always move forward.
Following these simple suggestions should help any student find their new normal as they adjust to school online. Because despite the circumstances, we must recognize how fortunate we are to have technology amidst a pandemic such as this. Let’s keep moving forward together.