DISTANCE LEARNING DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
This page was created as a student guide to distance learning as a result of the measures put in place to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Online classes were implemented on 16 March and will continue until the end of the semester. In exceptional cases, activities that are impossible to carry out online will take place again as soon as conditions allow it.
Below are some guidelines for students similar to those being followed at other Portuguese universities.
- To attend a class or session via videoconferencing, your professor must send you the respective link (by e-mail or posted on the Moodle page) with the start of the class/session. All you usually need to do is click on the link and follow the instructions,
- A request for authorisation should then appear for you to open the zoom.us.app page. This step may take a few minutes the first time and you may be asked to install the Zoom app.
- You will then be asked to test your audio. You should always carry out the audio test before each session. It only takes 10 seconds and allows you to confirm that your microphone and audio are working properly.
- After these steps, the main Zoom screen will be displayed with the active class/session. Most of the features on this screen are user-friendly. On the bottom bar, you must make sure that your video and audio are off to ensure the maximum number of participants can join the class/session. Video and/or audio should only be turned on when the moderator/professor tells you to do so.
- For more information on setting up and operating the zoom system, visit https://www.si.uevora.pt/servicos/e-Learning .
- You must keep your microphone off. You may only turn it on to ask or answer questions. This is because sound will be distorted if too many microphones are on or if someone is using a defective microphone.
- Using video should be avoided or only used sparingly as sessions with a lot of participants can cause lagging and delays.
- You should also decide from where in your home you will be taking part in class, preferably opting for a quiet location to avoid noise and other interference. Remember that you are attending a class, so you should act accordingly.
e-Learning requires more self-discipline and time-management skills. Here are some tips for optimising the learning process.
PAY AS MUCH ATTENTION IN ONLINE CLASSES AS YOU DO WHEN HAVING LESSONS ON CAMPUS
There is typically more flexibility when it comes to carrying out assignments in online classes. As a result, many students put off doing their assignments, which is a fatal mistake! You need to show the same discipline and commitment and work hard regularly to progress in the curricular unit, just as you do for in-person classes.
Don’t forget that you need to “show up”, “participate” and put in the work to learn and make the most of the curricular units you are attending. Treat online classes the same way you would an in-person class.
Set goals and check your progress every week. You might receive a weekly curricular unit work plan from each of your professors. Be responsible and start the assignments you have been set in a timely manner so that you are able to finish them before the submission deadline.
Ask your peers to put pressure on you to complete the tasks (you can help one another). By being organised and proactive, you will be able to make the most of your online classes.
MANAGE YOUR TIME PROPERLY
One of the great advantages of e-learning is that time management is more flexible. But with freedom comes great responsibility, so you must have good time management skills. If you don’t plan things well, your work will start piling up, you won't be able to study enough for tests and you’ll fail to meet deadlines.
How you manage your time depends on your learning style and personality. That said, here are some general tips to help you better manage your time:
- Confirm the schedule for each of your curricular units and take note of the main assignments you’ll need to complete. Add them to a calendar, which you should regularly refer to to confirm your workload in the coming weeks. Don't forget to account for any other commitments that may interfere with your study plan;
- Create a weekly schedule to follow, allotting time every week for reading, attending classes, completing assignments, group work, studying and taking part in forums. Set reminders to complete the assignments for each curricular unit;
- Set aside a certain amount of time to work on each task before moving on to the next one. Keep track of the time you spend, to determine how long it takes for you to complete each task;
- Don’t forget to occasionally check how you are using your time. Ask yourself this: How much time do I spend reading and on course assignments? Am I regularly underestimating the time it takes me to do things? A little introspection can help you go a long way.
USE THE SAME STUDY SPACE AND BE ORGANISED
Set up a dedicated learning environment for studying. It is important to determine what type of environment is best for you. Experiment to find out what kind of set-up boosts your productivity. Make sure your study space has a good internet connection.
Using the same study space will help keep you organised. When preparing your study space, make sure:
- You have a good internet connection;
- You have the books, materials and software you need for the course;
- You have headphones to listen to lessons or discussions (especially important if you are sharing spaces).
GET RID OF DISTRACTIONS
From Netflix to social media, there are many potential distractions that can easily lead you to procrastinate. With e-learning, you must ignore those distractions and mantain your focus.
Just how tempted you are by these distractions depends on your personality and there may even be things, such as listening to music, that help you study. Identify what interferes with your learning process and eliminate as many distractions as you can. In other words, you should identify the strategy that works best for you.
No matter where you study, turn off your phone to avoid being distracted by a message or notification. And if you’re having trouble resisting the urge to check your e-mails or surf the web, try downloading a site blocker. Using apps such as Cold Turkey and Freedom can help eliminate distractions by blocking apps or sites that lead to procrastination, such as Facebook and Twitter.
FIGURE OUT HOW YOU LEARN BEST
You should figure out when and how you do your best work. People don't all learn the same way. So, think about what types of information help you better understand new concepts and employ relevant study strategies.
If you like to read and are a visual learner, print out the slides and read the notes you took. Do you learn better by listening? Create a schedule to play and replay all audio and video-based course content.
BE AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT
Join the curricular unit’s online forum to ask questions, share ideas with classmates, help peers who ask questions you know how to answer, etc.. You can read what other students and professors say in the forum and, if you have any questions, you can ask for clarification. It is always a good idea to check the class discussion topics every day.
And if you're having trouble, don't wait until an assignment is due. Ask questions and discuss your problems! Send an e-mail to your professor and be proactive in asking for help.
LEVERAGE YOUR CONTACT NETWORK
Sometimes online classes can make students feel alone! But it’s supposed to be the exact opposite. E-learning requires collaboration and students must work together to complete many of the assignments and have discussions in the forums.
Participate in online discussion forums! Your peers can be a valuable resource and help you prepare for exams or give you feedback on assignments. Don't be afraid to reach out to fellow students to create a virtual study group. In all likelihood, they will also enjoy working with you.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
e-Learning is new to everyone. It’s a process of continuous improvement! The more we practise, the better we will be!