Lockdown Changes the Way You Learn. Why You Must Embrace ItMay 26, 2020

University students are worried about going back to the campus sooner, but you see something else. The pandemic is a watershed moment in education (and the history of Australia). It would renew your interest and enthusiasm in your studies.

You have noticed that you've been reading more books than before. As a matter of fact, you accepted a coursemate's invitation to join a book club. You look forward to those online gatherings, as not all members are studying literature. You won't mind a different, if not disparaging, opinion on the novels that you know too well. One thought that the longest and fattest books aren't essential during the quarantine. Not only you agreed to it, but you also don't feel like keeping copies of it in your bookshelf (after writing essays about it). You are rather interested in the exotic, such as the urban legend about generations of were-tigers (or shapeshifters) inhabiting the jungles in Borneo. Is it possible for another group (of shapeshifters) to exist in the Outback? You wanted to ask your parents about it, but your mother was intent on finishing a book about a hollow tree in a remote English community. (The events took place after the Second World War. Inhabitants suspected a Nazi spy living with them.) More people read more novels these last few months, which is an antidote for quarantine fatigue. It would make you realise that reading is not something that grown-ups do to kill the time. If the vaccine would be available next year, then it could be a long one. It should give you more time for other things, though.

The near future would see universities adopting blended learning, where face-to-face lectures and digital technology go alongside each other. A college in Cheshire applied the theories of video games in remote learning. The students became more engaged in their studying, yet you wondered how a game like "Tomb Raider" would make you more studious. (You witnessed the sunrise in Angkor Wat, which didn't delight you. It must be the crowd.) Moreover, you're curious about Microsoft Training Academy, of what it could offer to the likes of you. (The lockdown made you rethink about going places. You need to get out, as life is anywhere but your books and computer. You must find out about it, good and bad, but you would make an exception with the Harry Potter series.) You would figure it out sooner, but online learning matter most at the moment. Online learning brings a new set of challenges, and one of which would be keeping up with your professors' expectations on the coursework - and you. They may know your unusual dedication to novels, old and new, but your tutor warned you, more than once, about intellectual superiority. You were unaware of it, even not figured that your tutor may be pertaining to your tendency to show the extent of your knowledge. It could intimidate other students. (Your course mates seem impressed at your knowledge of transitional environment, but you learned it while watching a sci-fi movie starring Natalie Portman.) A collaboration with your professors would be required, as you navigate through this new normal. It could be fun, probably better than the virtual tour of museums. 

The New Way of Studying: 5 Tips on Online Learning

Online learning would make you think differently. Don't resist it. Technology would turn into a transformative experience, which you have witnessed countless times. You're too absorbed to notice it, but you're not to be faulted on it. Teenagers think differently, if not oblivious to how technology would change their lives completely. You would know after you familiarise yourself with the basic features of Zoom and what could go wrong. Unexpectedly. You only need to keep an open mind, of being patient with everyone. You must also be patient with yourself. (The learning curve is not the same for everyone. And there's no such thing as flattening of the curve.) You may get it while you stock up for the colder months. 

Keep your talking to a minimum. If you can state your argument in a few minutes, the better. You're looking at a screen of several students or more, your professor included. You would notice an annoyed face right away. You may be inclined to react, but don't. (Tolerance might be low, even if there's a promise of going back to the old ways very soon.) You can save your other thoughts for a lengthy email with your professor and course mates. If you insist that your professor and coursemates must hear everything, which would take quite long, then imagine a musician auditioning for a reality TV (talent) show. He sings one note, which would last half a minute. It nearly put the judges to sleep. Less is more.

Drop your headset. Students don't need to hear from you all the time. Learning would be lots of fun if you could think of other ways of expressing yourself. You can illustrate it, showing the cover of a book (that you're studying), if not pose a postcard or illustration relating to a certain theme of the novel. (If you're studying Shakespeare, it may be better to skip those places of interest in Verona.) You can also use captions, but you might need to learn this particular feature. Don't be shy to ask anyone (during your Zoom meeting).

Always keep your lessons engaging and inclusive. Trivia would make those lessons more interesting. You found out that vampire legends aren't confined to Transylvania. There's a thing called Pontianak, which could make a cameo in the sequel to "Fright Night". You also wonder if an all-female crew would do a better job in uncovering an anomaly in a remote research center. Last but not the least, Colombo is not the capital of Sri Lanka. It would consist of three words, which should make it the world capital with the most letters. But no one told you about it (during your holiday in Sri Lanka). Next!

Focus on small groups. Group discussion would be better when a small group of students participates in it. All of them. Your father would compare it to a religious gathering, where every member would share a happy, if not challenging, a moment in his (or her) life. You're not thinking of the third book in "His Darker Materials" trilogy, undecided on calling Philip Pullman a hypocrite for basing "His Dark Materials" on selected Biblical tales. Math would be another thing, though.

Artificial Intelligence to Support Students

You have seen Steven Spielberg's "A.I.", a darker version of "Pinocchio". It made you thought of a distant future when robots would assist university students in learning. It could force professors to early retirement, if not lose their jobs, but you don't have to look very far. There's an (A.I.) app, where students would find out the extent of their interest in the module. It comes down to your content (of your essay), a reminder that you must not take paper writing for granted. It should dawn on you that you would be a better writer - and student - if you really love to learn. Long hours (of studying) could present another set of challenges, though. You need another dose of that antidote for lockdown quarantine.

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