Online Learning Advice, the Student View

As two weeks of online, home learning draws near for UAE students, many will be looking at this change to their schooling with trepidation. Not Mishal Faraz, student at The Winchester School in Jebel Ali. Mishal approached asking to share her thoughts on the changes in an article for our site. We're incredibly impressed with both the quality of her writing and her utter positivity in these challenging times. Thank you, Mishal.
Online Learning Advice, the Student View
By Jenny Mollon
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Mishal Faraz, Year 8 student of GEMS The Winchester School in Jebel Ali has some incredible advice for her fellow students...

Owing to the unfortunate COVID-19 situation, students have been offered a sojourn into the classrooms of the future. Let’s make sure we make the most of it!

In the past there’s been a lot of talk about how the world is changing at an exponential rate and with that will come a complete paradigm shift in the education sector.  Many commentators suggest that in the future there will be a pronounced emphasis on distance or remote learning.

There has been so much speculation about the virtual classrooms of the future. Now, we’re about to get an actual glimpse into the future, albeit not due to a desirable situation. This too shall pass!  We must keep our spirits positive, look for that silver lining and aspire to make the most out of this new experience and come out of this stronger and wiser!

As a student, I’m excited to find out all that these two weeks of distance learning have in store for me and I thought I’ll share a few tips with students all over the nation – as the KHDA has most rightly said, we are all in this together!

Think Positive

First things first – do not let the news overload about Covid-19 overwhelm you. Refer only to official news outlets for the current news. Remember, knowledge is power. Fact checking is important.

Breaking it down, while it’s true that the virus is one which has hit hard and wide and is being likened to the great pandemics of the past, the world is much better equipped to handle a situation like this.  I believe that, sooner rather than later, things will start looking up.

If you have doubts, fears or apprehensions, don’t “Google” everything – talk to your parents. They will give you the best information.

Don’t forget to look for the many advantages this situation will offer. It could be anything that makes you happy – not waking up early in the morning, more time with family or how about thinking of all the carbon emissions being mitigated: since there will be no school buses on the road and a lot less cars!

Find your spot of sunshine and revel in it to stay in a positive frame of mind.

Build up the enthusiasm!

Let’s be honest, all of us have wondered what the virtual schools of the future will be like. Personally speaking, I’ve imagined holograms of teachers being projected in my room. Okay, we might not be getting that yet, but the whole concept of distance learning is so new that one can’t help feeling excited to find out more.

We will be introduced to new apps to facilitate online learning, there’s going to be shift in how we do assignments, get feedback from the teachers, interact with our classmates and so on. Make the most of this experience – we never know, some students might find this experience so engaging that they might ask for a few days or weeks of distance learning every year!

Maintain a daily routine

For many of us the best thing about holidays is not having a strict timetable to follow. However, it is vital that you have a semblance of a routine – go to bed and wake up at around the same time, have definite mealtimes, set time for some daily physical activity, rest and recreation.

Declutter and organise your workspace

Make sure you have a quiet and organised workstation. Assign yourself a fixed place in the same way you are given a place in the classroom.

It must be free from all distractions, with only the essential items that you will need for your studies. Ensure that you use only that particular workstation whenever you are in the “classroom”. This is a great opportunity to inculcate self-discipline and be your own boss, teacher, supervisor, mentor (or whatever fancy title you would like to give yourself!).

Organise your desktop

Now turn your attention to your virtual workspace – your digital device.

Make different folders for each subject and save your classwork and homework accordingly. A good idea would be to make date specific sub-folders within the main folders, so you do not have to struggle to find a particular lesson or assignment. Additionally, create post dated folders as per your assignment deadlines.

Every time you see them, you’d be reminded to get your work done!

Make a visible timetable and lesson plan

Most schools will soon be sharing a comprehensive distance study plan which would include assignments, deadlines for work submission, recorded video lessons, video conferencing schedules and so on.

Make sure that you write down all the vital information and stick it at a focal spot on your study desk. Many a times, we think that we will remember a mental note that we’ve made but it might just slip put of the mind. Hence a checklist, a visual one, is a must.

Stay connected with your teachers

All teachers will be available online during the distance learning weeks and would reply to queries during working hours via email as well as different apps like Google Classroom, Seesaw etc.

If not already mentioned in the plan sent to you by the school, do mail your teachers to find out their preferred mode of communication. Ask for regular feedback on your work and if you have doubts, make sure you address them with your respective teachers.

Regulate gadget time

Staring at the gadget screen for prolonged periods of time can have detrimental effects like strained eyes, headaches, dry and itchy eyes to name a few. Make sure that you take adequate breaks between lessons – walk around the house, spend time with family members, go for a stroll, make yourself a sandwich, listen to music, call up a friend.

Meet up with friends

Being confined inside the house can have an unsettling effect and feelings of isolation and detachment might arise in some students. If feasible, try to organise visits or playdates. You might even want to finish an assignment together the way you do group work in the classroom.

Embrace the new experience wholeheartedly

The coming weeks of distance learning will be interesting and will help all students hone their competencies and develop new ones as well – time management, self-discipline, mastering online completion of assignments, collaborating with teachers in virtual classrooms, setting a daily schedule just to name a few. We may be in uncharted waters but let’s not forget that challenges bring out the best in everyone and help us discover skills and strengths we never knew we possessed.

Get ready to learn and evolve! The future is here!

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