Friday, May 20, 2022

Column: How to stay motivated for online learning

March 20, 2020
An empty Kedzie Hall classroom is pictured after MSU cancelled classes due to coronavirus March 11, 2020.
An empty Kedzie Hall classroom is pictured after MSU cancelled classes due to coronavirus March 11, 2020. —
Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

Staying motivated during a time like this, a time where it feels like every ounce of clarity has been pulled out from under you, is definitely hard. Take it from me, somebody who has lost all schedule in her life, who doesn't know what day of the week it is anymore, who is actually really bad at online learning.

But, not to worry, because I'm also somebody who's here to help.

In high school, I was never somebody who bothered to stay organized. College (thankfully) changed that. And now, virtual college is changing that even more.

Since Michigan State University transitioned to online classes for the remainder of the spring semester due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, with Zoom lectures and countless emails in place of face-to-face communication, it's truly been more of a challenge to keep myself up to speed on due dates and news.

However, I've found a tactic that has made these solemn days of social distancing and quarantine feel a little more normal: pretending.

Hear me out.

By pretending that I'm still in my regular routine, I have found that I can still be just as productive from the comfort of my couch as I would be if I was sitting in a classroom.

Here's how...

1. Set your alarms

It's definitely not fun, I know, but I have still been setting my normal morning alarms that I would to wake up as if I had to walk across the campus to South Kedzie Hall or to catch the CATA bus to the Communication Arts and Sciences building.

Although my normal class times have become very lenient, and some optional, I've found that partaking in this simple task every night before bed allows me to still force myself out of bed before noon.

Obviously I'm not saying wake up for your 8:00 a.m. if you had one, but by 10:00 a.m. would be more optimal.

2. Take a shower in the morning

A lot of people have personal preference for this, no doubt, but lately I have found that taking a shower in the morning, rather than at night, has helped me to wake up early when I don't want to — or don't necessarily have to.

Especially if you add 10-15 seconds under cold water at the end.

3. Eat a healthy breakfast

Now that we're not in the hustle and bustle of traveling around the entirety of the campus, there is no excuse to skip meals.

For me, I don't typically like to eat immediately because I tend to feel nauseated. Except, this then usually leads into me not eating anything at all for the first half of the day and then at 3:00 p.m., when I'd usually be sitting in my JRN 200 lecture, my stomach sounds like a bear after winter.

I recently decided to get on a health kick and went grocery shopping for easy-to-cook meals for someone who cannot cook. Things like yogurt with berries and granola or eggs on toast with a slice of ham and a couple drops of hot sauce.

Consider it.

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4. Sit somewhere that isn't your bed

Seriously, I cannot stress this enough: get out of bed! Don't do your classes tucked under layers of blankets. Sitting at a desk or kitchen table, even a couch, to complete homework and listen to your lectures is the best thing you can do to "switch it up" in times like these.

And if you do have Zoom lectures, unless you have connection problems or no internet access, try your best watch them at the time they are broadcasted live. This will help a ton in staying up to speed with the class content.


5. If you don't have Zoom lectures...

Still utilize that normally scheduled class time to do any online work. Your brain is trained to be productive at those certain hours of the day, so take advantage and don't let the stress pile up on you.

If you had your class schedule downloaded to your phone's calendar, leave it there. The notifications can act as a reminder.

Contact your classmates. FaceTime and have your own miniature Zoom lecture. See what they're doing, collaborate on assignments, etc. We ultimately have to help each other out if we want to continue to succeed.


6. Use a planner/Stickies

Writing things down can also help a ton in staying up to speed with your class content. Lists are my personal favorite.

Every night before I go to bed, I write down a checklist of the things I need to do the next day in the Notes application on my phone — a good substitute if you don't own or want to buy a planner.

Everything from the little things, like taking my vitamins, to the bigger things, like turning this column in on deadline, get put on there (and, if you're super methodical like me, put in the order of how I want my day to go).

I also use the Stickies application on my Macbook, which allows me to section things off and create a list I will have to look at no matter what — as I'm always on my laptop nowadays. Right now, I have six stickies on my desktop screen: five for each of my classes and one for work.

Trust me when I tell you that it feels extremely rewarding to be able to see a fully completed checklist at the end of a long day.

7. Remember that we're in this together

Social distancing and quarantine can be quite boring, and you may start to feel like you're going insane with both nothing to do in the house and no ability to get out of the house.

But remember, The State News crew is here for you. We plan to continue answering any questions you may have and keep you updated on the COVID-19 crisis as it pans out.


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