Community, Cover, Culture

A beginner’s guide to virtual learning

Due to the ongoing pandemic, colleges have been forced to move much of their classes to a virtual setting. Instead of going to a physical classroom, we’re logging onto Zoom to hold class, meet with clubs and attend virtual events.

For many, this is the first time learning in an entirely virtual environment. So, it’s understandable that we haven’t mastered the art of online learning quite yet. But, there are ample ways to be just as successful in your online classes as you are in a classroom. With midterms right around the corner, here are a few tips to help ease that transition:

Organization is key

With class fully online, it’s easy to miss an assignment here or a Zoom meeting there. Keeping some kind of calendar, whether it’s in a physical planner or an online platform like Google Calendar, is the best way to stay on top of deadlines. Write any important dates on a to-do list ahead of time, and check that list consistently. Time management also contributes to your success in online classes, so avoid procrastination like the plague (no pun intended).

Create a dedicated space for learning

It is important to designate a space, whether in your dorm or at home, solely for studying. Doing so will help to limit distractions and allow you to focus on the task at hand. Ideally, this area should be in a quiet, distraction-free environment that boosts your productivity. On the other hand, make sure to avoid places that are too comfortable, like a bed or sofa— places like these will signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep, not study.

For those living on campus, the university offers study spaces on campus where students can attend their online classes or use for studying. These spaces can be reserved through the Office of Classroom Management website.

Treat online classes like in-person classes

It is easier than ever to skip class, procrastinate deadlines and cheat on homework and exams. You may be tempted to wake up five minutes before class and log onto Zoom with seconds to spare, but online classes still teach the same amount of content. So, you’ll need to give the same amount of time and effort as you would in an in-person class.

During a virtual class or lecture, make sure to stay fully engaged the entire time. Although it’s easy to scroll through social media and tune out the professor, this will only hurt your grade in the long run. Instead, take notes during lectures, participate in class discussions and breakout rooms, and make sure to ask questions when necessary. Doing these things will ensure that your attendance in class wasn’t in vain.

Connect with your fellow classmates

One of the biggest losses of virtual learning is that lack of physical interaction with your classmates. In a Zoom class, you can’t turn to the person beside you to ask for clarification or have a discussion while walking in and out of the classroom. Though it may seem impossible to replicate, there are still ways to stay in touch with your peers.

You can exchange numbers with each other and engage through social media. A group chat also works wonders for connecting with your classmates. Apps like GroupMe and Snapchat provide excellent venues to clarify information, stay on top of assignments and help each other study for exams.

Take advantage of online resources

Just like classes, many of the in-person resources that enhance our education have also moved online. Offices like the Toppel Career Center and the Office of Academic Enhancement hold virtual events and workshops that promote opportunities outside of the classroom.

The Writing Center offers assistance for all writing concerns and will assist with anything from brainstorming to final revisions.The Camner Center offers virtual peer tutoring for many courses here at UM, and students can easily make an appointment through the website. Likewise, many professors offer virtual office hours that students can attend for further instruction.

Maybe Zoom meetings aren’t ideal, but they can still aid your success in online coursework.

Most importantly, unplug for a while

Zoom fatigue is real. Spending hours in virtual classes and meetings will definitely tire you out, but spending even more time on social media or watching TV will only exacerbate the exhaustion. If you have back-to-back classes, make sure to take frequent breaks away from the screen— get up and move around, stretch, take a bathroom break or grab a quick snack.

When you have a longer gap in your schedule or you’ve finished for the day, try to do something that doesn’t involve looking at a screen: take a walk through nature, go on a drive and blast some music, cook a meal or read a novel. Spending time away from screens allows your eyes to relax and your mind to recharge. After a long day of blue light exposure, your body deserves a break.

Featured image from

September 18, 2020


Layomi Adeojo

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.