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A Whole New World: How to Learn in a Virtual Environment

Updated: Jun 15, 2022



In 2021, many of us are still taking online classes. Although it may have been a great experience in the beginning, it is completely different from traditional in-person learning with its own challenges. Struggling in these classes is more common than you think. Here are some ways to make the most of your time.


Virtual platforms like Zoom allow for the delivery of most college and medical school lectures around the globe online. Although we may see the end for this global pandemic, it is likely that we will continue to use online and virtual learning for years to come.


Many students have shared their difficulties with adapting to the online learning environment. They are trying to figure how to thrive and navigate these new changes.




Grasp Structure & Organization

First, we must address the greatest obstacle students have with online learning, which is the lack of organization and structure. As a virtual student, you are more independent and distant than ever before. It becomes almost easy to fall behind.


We need systems that leverage structure and organization to help us combat the natural tendency to let our studies fall behind. Your calendar should be used as it was intended. Your recurring events, such as classes, small group sessions, or office hours, should be added to your calendar. This includes links to pages and Zoom conferences. This is all about making life easier for your future self. The second step is to find a task manager that you like and follow it. Some examples include: Things3 (only available for macOS and Apple products) and Todoist (for Windows).


To organize how each hour will be spent, use your calendar. You should use your task manager to organize all the tasks and assignments you have, along with due dates.

A 30-minute block of time should be set aside each weekend for reviewing your task manager and calendar. This will allow you to consolidate any unorganized items. It is normal to get behind.


Next, ensure that your class materials are properly organized. Each class should have its own folder, with dividers to accommodate larger tasks or projects. Your class files should be kept in a single or two locations. It is likely that it will be an app on your tablet or computer, and not a paper notebook. In this case, you should limit the number of apps in order to avoid confusion and disorganization. Depending on the use case, you will determine what app you use. Some people prefer Notability or OneNote, while others prefer Evernote or Notion.


Now, sit down and create a daily schedule. It is because we often get stymied by inertia in remote learning, which can lead to us falling behind in our plans and putting us in a funk. A consistent schedule should be established for each weekday. This includes a set wake-up time, regular breaks throughout the day and consistent exercise.


Adjust Your Academic Approach

Assignments and exams in virtual learning are different from those in real life. You need to consider the impact of online learning on your final grade in order to make the most of it.

In-person school usually requires you to take a few midterms and a final. Online school is more demanding than traditional in-person schools. Many programs require you to complete more assignments and assessments. This helps discourage procrastination, and keeps you on track. The importance of organization is even more important when juggling additional assignments and assessments.


Many students mistakenly believe that open-book assessments allow them to skip study because they can find what they need during exams. To be successful on these exams, you must have a clear understanding of the content. The exams will test your ability to apply concepts and your depth of understanding. Your creativity and mastery in the content will be assessed, whether it's designing concise lab plans for biology or analyzing complex scenario-based chemistry questions.


This is the most obvious benefit. You don't have to memorize obscure facts. You can just look them up in the book. To master concepts, active learning strategies like the Feynman strategy are essential.


Use Physical & Temporal Separation

Students face the greatest obstacle in their transition to online learning: the lack of separation in space and time. When you don't leave the house, change your clothes or interact with others, it's not uncommon for your day to feel unstructured. If this is not addressed, it can cause havoc.


Do not fall for the trap of believing that more time spent studying on the computer will result in better grades. Contrary to popular belief. Lack of separation can lead to burnout, ruts, and a decrease in effectiveness.


Let's begin by optimizing your physical space. In an ideal world your space for studying and class should be separated from your space for relaxing and unwinding. This allows you to separate your mental state into two distinct areas: one for work and one in play. You will need to think creatively if you live in a small apartment. You may want to set up your computer and desk in your bedroom. Then, unwind in the living area by the TV, where you can keep in touch with your family members and roommates.


Distractions can be a major obstacle to productivity and focus when studying at home. This is a great opportunity to assess the distractions that you are facing and to find ways to minimize them. To block out roommates' noise, you might consider noise-canceling headset. You could also move your desk so that it isn't directly in front of a busy window or TV.


The biggest culprit is your phone. Our suggestion is that you keep it out of reach and out of mind in a different room. Notifications should be restricted or blocked while you are working.


Think about how you can divide your time. Your calendar has event notifications that will allow you to have work and meal blocks, as well as relaxation blocks. This assists with getting from one task or another without getting stuck in a rut. It is not a good idea to study in multiple locations such as a library or coffee shop. A long break from the house can be a great idea. You could go to the gym, or even take a walk outside. It is a great idea to have something to look forward to each day.


Get Creative

You should also be creative in your extracurricular activities. Pipetting and bench research are unlikely to be possible. Traditional hospital volunteer work is also unlikely, but there are still many opportunities.


You can also search online and at your university for virtual volunteering opportunities. You can also help in person by delivering groceries to the elderly or volunteering at mental health non-profits.


This is the ideal time to start exploring that hobby or interest you have been putting off. Perhaps you are interested in starting a YouTube channel, or making art. This is the perfect time to record your journey, upload your content and creations regularly, and create a channel or portfolio of your work.


If you are still unable to find clubs or experiences that interest you, don't hesitate to start your own. It's a great idea to take that initiative regardless of whether you view it from the perspective personal growth and leadership skills, positive impact on others, or impressing admissions officers with your ambition.


Virtual Study Groups & Networking

It can be extremely difficult to isolate even after you have your organization set up, your routine established, and your physical space optimized. We are social creatures as humans.

It is a great way to help your friends or classmates with difficult concepts. You can also have sweet social interaction.


It is important to schedule regular calls or video calls with family and friends. At the very least, it should be done at least once per week.


Your professors and teaching aids know the extra stress and struggle students face in virtual learning. If you have any questions or are having trouble with the process, please reach out to your professors and teaching assistants. If you have any questions or concerns, you can also drop by virtually. The classroom discussion boards are more active than ever and you can get a quick reply from a peer or tutor.



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