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Panicked in Pickering

By ANDREW OLIVER - September 28 2021

Dear Elcee:
I am returning to school this year after being out of the classroom for over twenty years. My previous profession (the travel industry) has been seriously affected by the pandemic so I thought it might be time to change careers. I am going into the healthcare industry. I’ve recently been made aware that most of my courses this semester will be online. Although I am computer literate I am a little overwhelmed by this. Do you have any tips or suggestions to help me cope with this new world of online learning?

Hi Panicked!
Calm down! You will be fine! First, let me congratulate you on making the difficult decision to return to school for a whole new field. Second, let me assure you that you are not alone in navigating the online learning system for the first time.

While online learning has many advantages and some disadvantages, there is no question that its here to stay. Becoming the best online learner you can be requires both discipline and flexibility. Here are some tips;

  1. You need to treat your online courses as though you were attending in-person classes. That means you get up, get dressed and have breakfast as though you were actually leaving the house.
  2. A dedicated workspace is key. Even if it is your dining room table, treat it as a workspace. Stay close to your wifi router to ensure your connection. Have your tools (pen, papers etc) at the ready. If your workspace is doing double duty, create a “desk in a box” and have it ready for classtime.
  3. Eliminate distractions. Just as you would if you were going to work or in class, put your phone on airplane mode or silent. Turn off the tv and /or radio. Maybe put a sign on the door stating “in-class” or “Do Not Disturb”.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is very easy to become isolated during these times. It can be doubly difficult if you are on a learning curve. Remember, this is new for many other people also so your questions may be welcomed.
  5. Establish a support group. Learn to ZOOM! If you can set up a group with others who are studying in the same area, great, but if not, establish a group of people who are sharing your goals. They can provide support, empathy and some much needed companionship.

Well, Panicked, I hope this helps somewhat. As you already know, the pandemic has changed how we live, learn and work. Some of these changes will go back to a new normal but many of them will be here to stay. Change is necessary for growth but there are inevitable growing pains. Stay on course!

Good luck!

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