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Online learning in times of coronavirus: What to expect
Roshna Mohan

Roshna Mohan is a Content Writer at Hotcourses India - an IDP company. A post-graduate in Biotechnology, she chose content writing as her career out of sheer interest. Reading and cooking are her stress-busters. Talk about these to take the introvert out of the ambivert. Her all-time favourite authors are Paulo Coelho, Yuval Noah Harari and Robin Cook.

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06 Aug 2020 Book icon 4 mins Share

Online learning in times of coronavirus: What to expect

More and more universities are switching to the online mode of learning. We have focused on its advantages, the possible hurdles you might face and how you can overcome them.

06 Aug 2020 Book icon 4 mins Share
Online learning in times of coronavirus: What to expect

Who would have thought that a virus would change the ways of the world for an unimaginably long period? Universities do not want their students to be disadvantaged in the face of this unexpected hurdle. Hence more and more universities are switching to online learning to ensure an uninterrupted study experience.

Commencing studies online and transitioning to on-campus learning later is also being considered. Universities that hoped to resume face to face learning for the autumn semester have had to reconsider due to continuing border restrictions and stringent visa rules. This points to the fact that online learning will remain a trend for quite some time. So let us get to grips with the new learning model and update ourselves on what to expect.

Online learning is not really new. It has been part of the learning landscape for quite some time. It is something people chose because of the flexibility and convenience that it offers. You can attend the classes anywhere at any time of your choice. However, when you had planned to study abroad, online learning is perhaps not what you expected. 

You do have alternative options. You can opt to defer your studies and attend classes on campus in the next academic year. You can also look for courses in countries that are welcoming international students. If you are determined to continue your studies no matter what, you have to embrace online learning. The effectiveness of the learning will depend largely on how well you adapt to the new environment and how effectively the institution or instructor has planned your courses.

Let’s take a look at how close online learning is to traditional learning methods and what its advantages are. Then we’ll analyse the possible hurdles that you might face and how to be prepare for it. 

How is online learning similar to traditional learning methods?

Most institutions use live streaming technology for delivering classes. Except for the physical presence and ambience, it is the same as a traditional classroom. You will have an instructor addressing all students attending the lecture online, just as they would address a live class. You will have the option to interact with your lecturer and other fellow students through real-time tools.

You will continue to have assignments, projects, group discussions and tests. It would also mean that you will have to stick to the deadlines given. One of the differences is that you won’t have anybody reminding you about your assignments every other day; you have to push yourself.

Once you reach college, you rarely rely on pen and paper for writing assignments. So virtual or not, you are going to work on your projects on a laptop or desktop. Nothing much will change in this regard, except the way you access information for completing the projects. You won't have physical access to the university library; you will have to rely on online libraries and other e-resources.

You can still socialise with your classmates, albeit virtually and you will get to interact with your lecturer as part of the class and also individually.

An advantage of attending classes online is that you can go back to the lectures as and when you please, because most of the lectures will be recorded. The same applies if you miss a class due to some reason.

There will be some flexibility with regard to the class timings considering that the courses will be attended by international students too, who are in different time zones.

Some institutions are also considering a reduction in tuition fees. This will possibly open up the courses to more students.

What are some of the hurdles that might come your way?

Technical difficulties

There are the struggles of installing new apps or registering on study portals. However, this might be the relatively easy part. Understanding the course management systems and getting used to them might be more challenging. For example you’ll have to get used to the dedicated sections for submitting assignments, accessing learning resources, having discussions and attending lectures.

You might face technical issues too, that need troubleshooting. The best way to be prepared for this is by reading up about issues beforehand and knowing where to look in case you encounter a completely new issue. You will have to put in some effort into understanding it all, but you can also rely on experts who will be on standby ready to take care of issues and ensure that you have the best possible experience using these tools.

Timings

The universities are abroad and they are in a different time zone. This invariably means that you cannot attend all the classes conducted during their working hours. You might have to work with your instructor to come up with a plan if they don’t have one in place already. Your routines might be affected, or you will have to rework them to accommodate the time difference.

Lack of motivation

It might be particularly difficult for people who need an external push to keep them going. You will be given deadlines. But, being at home will not give you the necessary drive to complete your tasks on time. To tackle this, you should have a detailed plan in place. Note it down. Use a planner or to-do list to help you with this. Remember to keep enough buffer time in case you couldn’t get to your tasks as expected or you have a tendency to procrastinate.

The ambience

The lack of a college ambience will definitely make a difference. Learning is fully dependent on you. You don’t get to see how your peers are performing. Building a rapport with your classmates and instructor might take more time because you are not in the same place. Being at home will also mean that you have to deal with a lot of distractions. 

Home cannot cease being home however. Your parents might call you for a hand with household chores or your siblings might not be giving you the chance to concentrate for long periods. Your dad might be blasting the news on TV. The best way to get around this is to let everybody in the family know about your plans and your daily focus time so that they know when to leave you with your studies. You will also have to find a relatively quiet place in the house to minimize the distractions.

Working on group projects

Working on individual projects itself might be difficult because you don’t have access to the college library. Institutions might have alternate plans in place, however, learning to make full use of it will take time. Group projects will be more difficult because you simply can’t sit together and discuss the tasks. Some people get stressed out by the long video/audio calls. Take it slow, discuss your troubles with your peers and also with your instructors in case you need more time.

It might be a matter of days before you get used to it and with meticulous planning, you will find that you have more time at hand than you thought. At least, you are spared the troubles of getting dressed and travelling to college. Online learning has its share of struggles, but it has its perks too. 

To get comprehensive information, check out our article with tips on how to prepare for online learning. These are not easy times and you deserve a pat on the back for your resilience and for pushing through these struggles. Hang in there, better times are ahead.

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