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Try to enjoy the procrastinating and the delaying. And do a marathon reading session with your study group on FaceTime — advice from an expert in digital communication.
You remember when you were actually, physically, on campus? That is, got up, biked to a lecture, had lunch in the canteen with your study mates and maybe even had a cheap afternoon beer before riding home again?
Feels like an eternity. But there are likely several months left before teaching and exams can return to real physical space.
Until then we are locked up in our homes, glued to computer screens. But this does not have to be as sad as it sounds.
Helle Mathiasen is a professor at the Department of Science Education at the University of Copenhagen and an expert in digital communication. She offers four tips on how to get through all this in good cheer and keeping up your academic standards.
According to instructors that the University Post spoke to, lots of students keep their cameras off when they are at online classes.
And you can understand why. Who wants to be seen sitting in bed with their morning hair in their pyjamas?
But do yourself (and your instructors, who miss being able to see the people they teach) a favour and get up, brush your teeth, eat breakfast, and turn on your camera. And be attentive and answer the instructor’s questions, just like you would have done when you were happily unaware of the future of physical classrooms.
If you don’t like the idea that your fellow students can look into your bedroom, or wherever, there are solutions, according to Helle Mathiasen.
»On most video services, you can change your background. You can sit on a deserted island or in New York if you’re not comfortable with people seeing your home,« she says.
You know the feeling of sitting at home neglected? Or the feeling that when you talk to your fellow students, it is all about academic stuff?
Then discuss with your study group how to read together – on the screen, that is.
»I know students who in their study groups have the FaceTime app running throughout the day — seven to eight hours straight. They sat there reading individually, but once in a while they talked about things they were unsure about, and then they had lunch and chatted,« says Helle Mathiasen.
It’s so good for your state of mind to be able to talk to others. And it is important for your motivation that you are able to compare your academic level with your fellow students.
»Talk to each other. Both for social feedback, for self-reflection, and to be able to gauge your academic skills up against your fellow students,« says Helle Mathiasen.
The next piece of advice is a bit trivial, and you probably know that you should do it already: Get a structure in your daily life.
If you don’t just ‘pretend’ that your Wednesday is actually Wednesday, you will end up bogged down in the sofa watching the ‘Friends’ series for the sixth time, and suddenly it is 6.30 pm.
Maybe you make a deal with yourself – or even better, your study group – that you need to have the right clothes on when you turn up for a digital reading group. Maybe you eat lunch every day at 12.30. Maybe you should take a shower every morning. Maybe you should take a walk every day when you have finished the reading in the afternoon.
»Start your day with a daily plan and make sure to vary your day and your days. Take breaks, be physically active, and procrastinate a bit. Don’t feel guilty, but use delaying activities with a clear conscience and enjoy them,« says Helle Mathiasen.
This eternal staying-at-home is not only hard for you students, it is also hard on your teachers.
They do their best. But if there is still some teaching that you think has dropped too much in quality, see if you can influence it and push it in the right direction. Perhaps one of your instructors uses a good quiz format that one of your other instructors might benefit from hearing about? Tell them, says Helle Mathiasen.
»If you are fortunate to be a student in a setting where your instructors are open to ongoing feedback from students, then exploit this opportunity to enter into a dialogue with them.«
We hope these tips can make life just a little bit sweeter for you. And hey, spring is coming! And some time in the future, everything will be OK.