Photo By: Gabriel Benois from Unsplash

This month, universities across Ontario announced their plans to host classes virtually for the first month of the winter semester to protect students and staff as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the province.

“Our top priority continues to be providing a safe learning and working environment for students, faculty and staff, with the goal of getting students back on campus as soon as possible,” read a statement from Brock’s Interim President Lynn Wells.

While it has been emphasized that this measure is only temporary, it comes as a disappointment for many students who were looking forward to returning to campus after spending most of 2020 and 2021 learning remotely. 

To support students who may be nervous about online learning, we’ve curated a list of tips for success in the virtual environment.  

Dedicate a space specifically for learning

While certainly more comfortable than a lecture hall or classroom, your bed is likely not the best place for dialing into lectures. 

Studies have shown that remote workers and students who work from their bed are less productive than those who work at a desk or in a separate room altogether, because they are more likely to fall into passive learning and working patterns, while sitting upright generally results in higher levels of alertness. 

At the same time, designating your bed as a space for sleep and relaxation can help you recharge and provide better quality sleep because it limits distractions from academic or work responsibilities. 

Set a daily schedule

Research has shown that many people who do not follow some kind of daily routine suffer from fatigue and stress and are more likely to fall into poor eating and exercise habits. By creating a schedule that prioritizes your physical and mental health, you can alleviate some of that stress. 

Some examples of this include going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, setting aside time for daily exercise and/or mindfulness, and preparing healthy meals in advance.

Stay connected with friends

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many have struggled with their mental health. Nowadays, it’s more important than ever to stay connected with family and friends, even in the virtual realm. In fact, for many students, the social aspect of university is what made them most excited to attend in the first place. 

Until we can safely return to campus, there are still plenty of ways to stay connected with your peers and classmates. Some favorites include creating group chats with students in the same class to ask each other questions about coursework, hosting group video calls with friends from home, or playing virtual games with family and loved ones. 

Online school can be an isolating experience, especially when you’re living away from home, but taking the time to participate in social activities can significantly reduce those feelings of loneliness.

Take breaks away from your computer

Students usually have a lot on their plate, so it’s easy to convince yourself that there isn’t enough time to take breaks. However, even a ten-minute walk around the block can be very beneficial, especially when battling high levels of stress. Stepping away from your work can increase energy levels and facilitate both mental and physical recovery. 

Staring at a computer screen all day can be very straining for your eyes, so it’s important to step away from electronic devices altogether for a few minutes every hour. Studies have shown this practice is extremely effective in boosting productivity and overall motivation.

Stay nourished and hydrated

In order to function properly, the human brain needs adequate fuel. This means eating your greens and drinking plenty of water, even when your schedule doesn’t seem to allow it. 

An easy way to make sure you’re taking care of your body is keeping a bottle of water and some healthy snacks at your desk. Furthermore, if you’re prone to pushing mealtimes or skipping meals altogether, don’t be afraid to schedule it right into your calendar. This way, you can make sure your brain is functioning at its peak capacity even during the busiest times of the year.

University isn’t easy, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. We at The Brock Press hope these tips will help you stay healthy and productive this semester.