Improvising in Isolation: How I’m Navigating a Practical Course Through Online Learning
Everyone is facing challenges in this pandemic, it's difficult to say who could’ve predicted the way the year would go. These challenges extend to our careers, our relationships, our families, our social life, our mental health, our daily routines. It extends into our education.
Tertiary learning provides its own set of obstacles; we’ve passed the structure of high school, expected to be ‘self-learning’ and responsible for our own education. This might be a fair expectation in non-COVID times, where there are more resources and support for it, but isolated learning is a different and difficult barrier for many people. Interaction is different online and it is difficult to learn the content without in-person tutorials, even more so when you are learning a practical course.
I’m a second year paramedic student and whilst I am lucky to have learnt the foundations of first year and settled into a university routine, it is still difficult to navigate shifting a practical course entirely online. Through my own experience and other people’s suggestions I’ve compiled some tips to make the best out of an unfortunate situation.
1. Write a to do list
This is something I encourage everyone to do. Not only does writing a to-do list help organise deadlines, it helps you see what you’ve already completed, giving a sense of achievement and fuelling motivation. A to-do list doesn’t have to be anything formal, it could be written on a sticky note or in a google doc, as long as it’s written down somewhere. I find it helps me to break down my to-do list further into daily lists, it helps me visually layout my day and keep me on track with deadlines.
2. Practise Whatever Possible, Whenever Possible
It’s difficult to learn a practical course online and it’s impossible to learn everything through theory. The resources available at home are drastically different to what’s usually available in practical classes but there’s still a lot of benefit in practicing at home. This might mean practicing scenarios with housemates or family, maybe even a pet (if you can bribe them with enough treats to sit still), or even strengthening basic skills like measuring blood pressure or a respiratory status assessment. This solidifies content you’ve already learnt and prepares you for resumption of in-person classes by identifying your gaps of knowledge.
3. Allow Yourself Space
At the same time, it can be exhausting to see other people adapt so quickly. It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other people, wondering why you don’t have five separate notebooks for your subjects that are colour coded, why you’re not a week ahead with the uploaded online content, why you don’t have subject headings written in cursive script with pastel highlighters (a contradiction, I’m aware). But it's alright if you’re just barely getting by. It’s perfectly alright to take things at your own speed, we’re facing an international trauma and it affects everyone in different ways. Remember to show yourself kindness and make the space and time to take care of yourself too.
This isn’t an entirely comprehensive list of tips on how to get the best out of online learning, just what has helped me. It can help to do some online research or talk to your friends to see what other methods might better align with your studying habits. Remember that these circumstances won’t be forever, but we do have to adapt to them while they are. Stay home and wash your hands, practise social distancing if you have to go out. Remember that you’re allowed to feel a little lost sometimes. And check up on your friends, they’re probably feeling the same way too.
Jun is your 2020 MONSU Peninsula Volunteer Officer & is studying Paramedicine.