The pandemic has made online learning an even bigger part of Aussies’ lives than it was before, but “staying connected” means more than sitting in front of a screen and watching a lecture. Students need to feel connected to each other, and creative strategies are emerging all the time to help make that happen. In this post we outline some of the ways you can stay socially connected while learning online.
At the beginning of the course, be sure to let people know who you are. Share a bit about your background, interests, and learning goals. Ask others questions about themselves. Find peers with similar interests and suggest connecting on social media. If your instructor doesn’t seem to place much emphasis on the “Meet and Greet” part of the course, request that they spend more time on it or that there’s an opportunity at the beginning of each lesson for each student to share what they are excited about or struggling with while taking the course.
Hang Out in the Breakout Rooms
One way to feel more connected, especially if you’re in a larger class, is to form smaller discussion groups in the Breakout Rooms. Spend some time discussing ideas and brainstorming project ideas. As an instructor, you might want to consider creating more time than usual for small group discussions so that students can feel more connected.
Hold Virtual Study Sessions
It’s hard enough to study on your own without a pandemic happening. Use virtual study sessions to connect with peers and help each other learn the material. You can do a flashcard-style back-and-forth Q&A session in a one-on-one format, or go over key points and highlights in a group format. We often learn better in a social environment, especially when we feel comfortable and relaxed, so seeing familiar faces while being in our own homes might actually be a great combination for optimal learning.
Schedule Learning Celebrations
One way to stay motivated, focused and connected is to practice gratitude and celebrate the good things in life when they happen rather than letting them float by. When students complete an exam or a unit, have a small party on Zoom to keep spirits high.
Weekly Reflection Time
Create time at the end of each week to let students reflect on what they’ve learned that week. This is a great practice for helping students prep for test time, since it forces students to recall new information more often and helps solidify it in long-term memory. It’s also a way of shifting the format to a more social, discussion-based activity.
Teacher-Student Video Calls
Regularly connecting with your instructor one-on-one can help you feel more connected socially as well as to the material you are learning. You can discuss any challenges you have with the course or express your interest in certain topics, which can help you feel more engaged and increase your motivation to keep learning.
Whether you’re pursuing a career in business, design, childhood education, photography, mental health, or any other field, learning online is easier than ever before, and can be a great way to stay connected during the pandemic.