How to cope with online learning

GCU student rep Chloe Bond discusses the strategies that have helped her cope with the difficulties of online learning during the pandemic.

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“If you had told me in February 2020 that the daily ritual of traveling in the freezing cold to go sit in a busy lecture theatre would soon be replaced by sitting in front of a laptop my pajamas, I would not have believed you. Now, it’s hard to remember a time where I was taught by someone in the same room as me.

“I struggled a lot with the changes. I was awful at staying organized and I thought that just listening to someone speak was most of what I needed to do to succeed. But whether I liked it or not, 2020 has forced me to change the way I learn, and I have a few tips that have helped me do better with online learning.

Tell your body it's time to get going!

“When you reminisce about the last time you were physically in university you probably skip over the mundane early wake up times and the awful walk in the pouring rain to your lecture hall. Although those things weren’t fun, they did send a message to your body that it was time to start doing stuff.

“One of the things I was most excited about when moving fully online was the idea of getting up at 8.50am for a 9am lecture. But I realized after a few days that this meant I would spend a lot of teaching time coming to terms with my existence and the reality of being awake!

“It’s tempting to roll out of bed and over to your laptop, but adding more activities in between waking and studying have helped me to focus. I like to:

  • Get up at least an hour before the first lecture (I know, easier said than done!).
  • Spend a short time outside, either in the garden or going for a walk.
  • Eat breakfast.
  • Give my study space a quick spruce and get out all the stationery and equipment I will need for the day.

Study spaces

“The pandemic has shone a light on the importance and privilege of personal space. Whether you have a dedicated study room or just your bed, it's good to have a set study space that you know you can go to. I’ve found this makes it easier for to get into a working mindset.

“No matter what space you have, it's important that it is somewhat tidy and different to where you’d usually lounge about. Even if you are studying on your bed, moving your duvet away, sitting upright and not lying down gives your mind the message that it is learning time.

“If you are using a space that multiple people have access to (like a kitchen or living room) then headphones are also your best friend, as well as any other tools you can find that will give you the sense of secluded space. 

Don’t be too hard on yourself

“The move to online learning has been difficult for everyone, and many things are beyond your control. Even while writing this, my internet has stopped working and I will have to miss a tutorial (third time this has happened in the past fortnight!).

“It’s easy to get into an anxious spiral when things at home affect study. Sometimes the internet goes off, kids run about screaming, you forget that there were two pre-recorded lectures to watch instead of one, and your laptop dies halfway through a presentation. Don’t dwell on the bad days too much - remember that this way of learning has been in place for barely a year and is new for everyone. All you can do is try your best, and keep focused on getting the knowledge you need to become a great optometrist.”

Chloe Bond
GCU student rep 2021

Favourite equipment: Fundus cameras. I find them so fun to use and they are such an indispensable piece of equipment.  
Favourite book: The Human Eye by Clyde Oyster. It’s got such detailed illustrations and the information is really easy to digest.  
Favourite topic area: Physiology and pathology. I love learning about the aetiology of diseases, it is fascinating that so many conditions can affect the eye.  
Favourite College resource: Ethical scenarios, they are such a good way to build up confidence in your clinical decision-making and ability to problem solve. They have some brilliant scenarios that you might not have come across in clinic.  
What inspired you to become an optometrist? I always tried to pick what I thought were the worst options during refraction when I was younger in an attempt to get glasses, but every time they would know what I was doing. I found it so interesting and magical that optometrist could figure out exactly what was happening with your eyes in a short amount of time.