Pulling through online education with technology

By Qamarina Razali

We have been hit with a pandemic that costs the lives of many.

It is important to realise that each one of us plays a part in this fight. With the current widespread of COVID-19 pandemic, it can be seen that different institutions all over the world have attempted several efforts in taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety and well-being of its members.

That being the case, the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and appropriate measures must be observed with the hope that we would not live another day reading devastating news of spikes in COVID-19 cases. 

Taking into consideration of current situation and suggestion by the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE), IIUM has provided guidelines on several measures that must be taken for students arriving on or returning to campus. The university has decided to adopt a hybrid mode consisting of remote teaching and learning (RTL) and face-to-face for classes in Semester 1, 2020/2021.

Due to the reason that this upcoming semester will start with RTL mode classes, students are given the option to whether they want to stay in campus or their home, provided that they follow certain requirements that have been set by the university.

RTL mode class or easily known as online class is something that we, ourselves still struggle with. Despite the fact that we have already been through online classes during the second half of Semester 2, 2019/2020, the concept of going fully online for classes might still be hard for some to cope with. The execution of online mode for classes dares students to be more organised in balancing time doing work while having the time for personal care.

 While staying at the comfort of our accommodation and having to carry out the usual everyday activities, the uses of some technology that are foreign to us have now actively surfaced within our daily lives in this particular time. Every so often, the continuous usage of technology may blur the lines between work and rest time.

As we cannot necessarily run from the uses of technology, one of the things that could be done is to learn utilising them in assisting our daily activities.

For students who spend time mostly online, here are some apps and sites that may help ease on-the-line education, or hopefully the whole process of learning:

Organising with Notion

We usually jot down to-do-lists, class notes, reminders, and other relevant tasks on a notebook. Although many are still using the method of organising with a pen and a bind of papers, others opt for a digital approach. What is then used to be written on a piece of paper can now be noted digitally with the use of devices such as smartphone and laptop. Because of the reason that people today are more inclined to spend more times with technology, it may be said that organising tasks digitally can be more accommodating and time saving. A recommended app for organising would be Notion.

Notion is an app that can be described as a one-in-all app. It’s because interesting features are provided for its users to compile notes, tasks, databases and many more in one workspace. This means we do not have to install any other apps to cater to different organisational features. As it is available to be downloaded both on laptop and mobile, this app would sync across platforms for the convenience of its users.

To add, Notion offers free use for its personal plan and what more as a student, you can opt for a more upgraded plan which is personal pro for free if you register with your school email.

Familiarise with the features to fully make use of the app by accessing tutorials and guides on the developer’s site.

Grammar checking with Grammarly

Grammarly is an extension app that helps with grammar checks! Due to the reason that English is not the first language to most, grammar mistakes when writing most often than not are bound to happen. What’s important is that we take this as a learning curve and always strive to improve!

Available in both mobile and laptop, students can install this extension as to be more aware of careless mistakes in constructing sentences – whether it’s in written assignment or when writing an email to a lecturer.

Creating with Canva & Slidesgo

Pretty sure it is common to see how assessments in classes include an oral presentation. Whether it’s an individual or a group work, presentation in class would usually require to be assisted with visual graphics, containing main points and a short explanation.

Unique uses of unconventional templates would certainly help in delivering a good presentation. With sites like Canva & Slidesgo, students now have the means to choose a suitable template for presenting. Using appropriate colour palette and fonts matters, thus sites as such can contribute ideas in how one would produce a befitting presentation slide.

Canva allows you to edit presentation slides on their site while having the access to pretty illustrations that can add in relevant to your presentation. On the other hand, Slidesgo let you download its template to be edited in PowerPoint itself or through Google Slides. Either way, both sites provided a great opportunity for students to enhance their way of presenting.  

Distractions blocking with Forest

Online classes present students with more chances to be distracted while in lectures. Since it is technically an online class, students possess the ‘ability’ to be in two places at the same time. This means that while one browser tab is opening a Google Meeting class, the other tab could possibly load a YouTube video. Or maybe instead of being focused on the lectures happening on your laptop, your hands find their way to your mobile phone, scrolling your Twitter timeline.

It is undeniably challenging to not have ourselves unfazed by all these distractions but one thing we can try is blocking them.

Forest, for example, is an app that helps us to stay focused by blocking distracting website. This app will ask us to fill in a blocklist, in which sites or app in that list will be blocked after we’re done setting a timer.

The concept of this blocking app is to plant a seed in Forest. During the time that has been set, this seed will eventually grow into a tree if one successfully paying attention without giving up to distraction. By giving users a sense of achievement and responsibility, this app aids its users in increasing their productivity.

Forest is also available on mobile phone with roughly same app-blocking features that can be synced to the one you have for your browser.  

Even so with all these utilisation of technology, students or really, even anyone, need to take some time off from viewing screens 24/7. It is okay to unwind after a long period of doing work as to prevent burnout.

Get some fresh air. Do a few outdoor activities. Do anything you have to do in order to release the prolonged stress you’ve been experiencing. And of course, abidance of SOPs must not be forgotten while doing these activities.

Don’t forget to wear mask, practise social distancing and wash your hands regularly! ***

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