You were just asked to move out of your dorm (awful) and now all of your classes are online (worse). This is not what you signed up for and, clearly, it is unreal for all of us. We wish we could help with all of the new challenges you are facing today. But if these strange times have shown us anything, it’s that each of us can make a difference if we do our part to help. For us, that means giving you the tools and support to stay on track with your studies—and finish the semester as strong as possible. Since we love technology (and we know you do, too), here are our top tips to use it to feel better and do better in your courses:
Don’t Be a Joe: Hang out Online
If you’re still a little salty about social distancing, check out this graphic on what happens when “Joe” goes to a party two nights in a row. (Spoiler alert: He infects people at both parties. Guess which ones don’t manage to get a bed when they head to the ICU.) So, yeah: Don’t be a Joe. Not that we thought you’d be one anyway. Your friends tho…?
1. Get your tech ready
Most teleconferencing tools will let you choose whether you want to allow video or audio or both, but your professor might not. So make sure you don’t have anything weird within your webcam’s view, and make sure you know how to mute yourself when you’re not contributing. Also, if you need to use your phone to create a WiFi hotspot to log on with your laptop, remember that this can eat up a lot of data. So consider an unlimited-data plan, or at least keep an eye on your data usage (for school and otherwise). Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and others are helping to support connectivity by offering free hotspots, unlimited data, and payment extensions.
2. Use the tutorials you’d normally skip
Learning online may mean working with some video-conferencing services that are new to you. As soon as you find out what your professor is planning to use, go to the website and look for the quick-start tutorial. You normally would figure it out yourself, we know, but these are different times.
3. Create a computer sign-out calendar
If you’re sharing technology with family members, create a calendar—on paper or online (e.g., Google Calendar). Then invite your whole family to use it so you can each reserve the computer when you need it, such as during a live lecture. Even if you don’t share tech, it may help for everyone to know when you shouldn’t be interrupted.
Some Reassuring Statistics About Online Courses
In Fall 2018, more than a third of U.S. students—that’s more than 6.9 million students—took at least one online course. And 16.3% of the total student population was completing all of their courses online. So, yeah: You got this.
4. Ease stress with an anti-anxiety app
Effective de-stressing techniques are important for learning (and living), and tech can help. Simple Habit is one company offering a collection of free meditations on its website and app under the umbrella “Ease your Coronavirus anxiety.” There’s also a beta version of audio files designed to help you focus when reading or doing creative work.
5. Schedule social time online, too
Connect with friends each week by picking an official time when you’ll FaceTime each other or watch movies or videos “together” online. Check out Watch2Gether, myCircle.tv, and Netflix Party, which are just some of the ways you can watch TV simultaneously.
If any generation can find new ways to use technology to stay connected in the age of social distancing, it’s yours. Amirite?