Virtual classes are the bane of my college experience so far. I wake up at 7:55am to sit on my computer and listen to a lecture given by a professor who either doesn't want to be there or doesn't know enough about technology to engage their students. It takes about an hour 10 minutes on average, and in that time there are 5 technical issues, no one turns on their camera, and the professor doesn't know how to share his screen with audio. I'm sorry but none of these things make me want to pay attention to this riveting lecture on squishy bone and genital warts. Did I forget to mention that I could also turn off my camera and play Among Us on my phone for the whole class?
It's hard because I know that this is a hard time for everyone--students and professors alike; however, it is still a problem. I talk to a lot of other students in college as well as high school, and find that they too share the sentiment. The reality is that online learning is not the same as in-person instruction. It is so much harder for the professors to engage and keep students from messing around or taking a really nice nap; they are staring at screens too. There is no way to keep everyone interested, there never is. But there are some ways we can take it upon ourselves to pay closer attention.
Get out of bed, sleepyhead!
As I said, one thing about virtual class is that we do not have to get up significantly early and go anywhere. This means we can roll out of bed, hit 'join meeting' and perhaps sit in your very uncomfortable chair and listen to your professor. OR, you can hop back in to bed and hope that your lecture is recorded so maybe you can listen to it later if you feel like it. Because there is no face to face, no routine, we are more inclined to brush off the classes in exchange for laying in bed a few more hours.
Stop laying in bed if you want to pay attention.
When you lay in bed, your brain thinks it's still aloud to sleep. We don't want that. Instead, get out of bed and move to a new place. Don't work where you sleep, there should be a separation of the two. Make a place that is purely for school/work. Preferably this spot will be a desk or table, but most clear surfaces--except your bed--are acceptable.
Get noise canceling headphones
For someone who didn't use headphones much before this year, I have come to rely on my cheap pair for all of my virtual audio needs. They are great for helping negate most audible distractions including roommates who also have the classes at the same time as you.
I personally use earbuds that are not noise canceling at the moment; however, I want to switch over to headphones that are soundproof for a few reasons. One reason is that when I am doing assignments, I have to listen to music to keep my mind focused, but it is not good for my ears to listen at such a high volume. With sound canceling I can listen at a lower volume without sacrificing my focus. Another reason is that the earbuds don't fit my ears properly. They fall out a lot because I have small ears and I move around way too much. Headphones are also better for ear hygiene because should not be sticking things in our ears all the time. The most important reason to get headphones would happen to be that they are generally better quality and your listening experience will definitely be better.
Look for noise canceling headphones at places like Best Buy, Office Depot, Walmart, Target, etc.
When we have a clear and organized work space, we feel more ready to do things. Get your pens and pencils, notebooks, laptop and charger, all of the things that we need to be successful. These things are a good start to being productive; we know what they are for and we want to keep up the flow once we have gotten there.
I have mentioned this before in other articles, but something that has really helped me for in-class and homework, is list making. When I make a list, I will put things on it that require that I pay attention to the lecture. I add things such as 'take bio notes' or 'look over psych diagrams' so that I feel like I have to take those notes and look back over them. And the only way I can take those notes is to pay attention.
Know your distracters
We all have things that make us turn our heads; things that we just can't NOT pay attention to. For example, that message on your phone that you HAVE to check. And what about the music your roommate is listening to? That song is pretty good! Knowing those things that distract you is very important. If you know them, you can maybe find ways to lessen them and/or keep them from happening.
For some , this means going to the library to do your classes or asking your roommate to, as well. This is also where wearing noise canceling headphones can come in handy.
Have fidget items
Silly putty, fidget cubes, rubber bands. Each of these things can be so great to keep someone focused. They provide just enough stimulation to keep your hands occupied, but not enough to take your mind from the lecture.
The most important, turn your phone off
Turn off your phone. Clear your unnecessary tabs. There's not much to say; put them away. We all know that when we see the fun things that are happening in our cyber world. But for a few minutes, let it be.
It is very hard to stay focused. Especially during this time where we get most of our fun on social media. We can do it though! You