Going Back to School Online Amidst the Pandemic
Benefits and tips for effectively adapting to online learning.
Posted Mar 31, 2020
Students across the world are transitioning to full-time online learning as a protective measure amidst the coronavirus pandemic. While many students have experienced some form of online learning in growing hybrid educational environments, this may be new for many students and an adaptation will need to take place in order to maintain effective academic performance, such as good grades and continued learning. This post will address some of the benefits of online learning and will provide tips for staying motivated and engaged.
First, take a moment to pause and capture the first image that comes to mind when thinking of going to school.
Is it a school locker? Cafeteria? Walking across a quad? Sitting in a classroom? Are people in the image that came into your mind?
If you did imagine people or places that an online learning environment does not include, that is okay. It is important to recognize the associations of going to school so that you can adapt and incorporate new associations that are involved in online learning.
Now, try to imagine going to school on your computer instead. Where are you sitting? What computer are you using? What are the benefits? What is most challenging for you?
Some people may immediately adapt to and thrive in online learning environments. It is more anonymous, more task-based, and more time can be allowed for responding to answers. Because of these factors, it tends to be more equalizing. Class clowns and overly talkative students cannot dominate the class. For these latter types and social extraverts, the transition to online learning can prove a little more difficult as they thrive on interaction and process-oriented learning through live spontaneous discussions.
For those of you who love to talk and perform, it might help to find other ways for channeling that energy as you readjust class time habits to more professional communications. Study groups to process and discuss the information can be created through Skype calls, Zoom meetings, and other web conferencing tools. You can also continue extracurricular activities through similar web conferencing tools along with your regular social media feeds.
It might be interesting to learn that females have performed better in online learning environments, which may be due to its equalizing effect. In a study by Justine Perkowski (2012) that examined gender differences among online students in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, females tended to have better academic performance and higher self-efficacy (which brings me to my tip for all people).
Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s ability. You may not know how to do something, but you believe you can learn. It is not about being smart or gifted (or introverted or extraverted), it is about effort and willingness. Time and again, studies show that self-efficacy is the key to success. Self-efficacy is the part of ourselves that falls down and says to try again. The perfectionist inside of us condemns us for failing while our self-efficacy part says it’s okay because we can learn from our failures and do even better next time.
Going back to school in an online environment in the midst of this pandemic can be frustrating, lonely, difficult, and maybe even sometimes boring, yet it can bring gifts of increased focus and help build your inner determination and self-efficacy—and these are the very skills needed that will help restore this country and the world after the threat of this disease is at bay and the world economy re-adapts to a new normal.
Students are at the frontline of a new world. As you adapt and learn the material teachers are sharing, you are also learning essential adaptive skills that will enable you to produce new solutions in the future. Keep up the effort. You are growing and learning far more than you may even realize.
Perkowski, J. (2012). The Role of Gender in Distance Learning: A Meta-Analytic Review of Gender Differences in Academic Performance and Self-Efficacy in Distance Learning. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 41(3), 267.