Logged in – Checked out

How to participate in online class when you aren’t mentally present

The last few months have seen a great change in the lives of millions of people around the world. The everyday heroes in our communities have risen to the challenge, many of us learning about the impact of some workers we had never noticed before. This is all due to an unpredictable pandemic.

The continuing Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has forced many into different lifestyles. Many people have lost their jobs, or have been forced to work from home. Students all over the world have been hit with a new norm: online classes. At first, many embraced how easy and convenient online school was, compared to in-person instruction. After all, less time spent on commuting allowed for school and home necessities to be handled more efficiently. Over the ensuing weeks, however, muted mics and black screens have become a usual sight. Now, students are faced with an entire semester of online learning.  This raises the question: how can students maintain their focus when it is so easy to mentally “check out” while remaining logged in?

Most Californian schools have been mandated to make use of distance learning, depending on the number of coronavirus cases in their communities. For most students, it seems, distance learning is not the preferred method. 

To understand this issue, The Syrinx asked FPU students about their experience, and they offered some insights as to why it can be so hard to focus during online learning. They also offered some tips and tricks to help them stay engaged in video conference classes. 

Do you sometimes have trouble participating, or staying focused in online classes? If so, what are some ways you have found to help yourself stay alert and involved? 

Jared Aguilar (Business Management), 3rd year: “Yeah it’s hard to concentrate on Zoom, because you have many distractions that can be around you; like your phone, TV, family or friends. Especially when you’re home, it doesn’t really feel like I am there to learn and understand the concepts of the lessons. I keep my phone on silent and make sure to keep as many distractions away from me until class is over. I also try to stay focused by interacting with my professor during the lectures.”

Hannah Hernandez (Psychology), 3rd year: “It is very hard to focus on Zoom, I usually get bored and end up being on my phone most of the time. Things I do to help me focus is to put my phone away and have my notifications off on my phone and computer so I am not tempted.” 

Taylor Benton (Communications), 4th year: “So far, my online learning experience has been rather smooth. While it’s hard to face the daily challenge of not being in-person with my peers and professors, the virtual face-to-face through Zoom has calmed my hunger for human interaction. Of course this semester isn’t what it could have been, but choosing to appreciate the methods of connection that we do have has helped me to focus on the experiences I can still pursue rather than on the things I can’t control. With this in mind, relying on my pre-established study habits from the last few years is helping me to integrate my home life with my academic life.”

Jess Van Vliet (Kinesiology), 4th year: “I am predominantly a kinesthetic learner, so online courses are very difficult for me to soak in the information. However, I have found that printing out the materials prior to the class helps exceedingly. I can then take written notes during the class to keep me on task.”

Evidently, distance learning is a struggle for many. It is a new reality in a new world that students are trying to adapt to. Although being in the classroom is the preferred route, students everywhere must make do with what they are given during times of crisis. It may be hard to set aside the cellphone, or keep the webcam when we so easily have the option to do otherwise, but staying engaged can be a big help not only for our classmates and professors but also for our education.. 

How are you making the most of your class time and avoiding ever-present distractions? Let us know in the poll on our social media accounts!

Authors: Julian Alcaraz and Timothy Myracle

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