Third-year Event Management student Maria Taneva shares her top tips of how to complete assignments while studying remotely and using online resources – and the positives of online lectures (with guitars).
The University entered ‘lockdown’ within the final weeks of studying, just as doing work and assignments was about to become a daily routine and spending entire days in the library a welcomed and helpful practice. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen as planned, but that didn’t mean we were deprived of our studying time.
On the contrary, I found that doing assignments knowing that all the information needed was online made the time to process all the research shorter and much more focused. If you keep organised and write down all the references and citations straight away as you are writing, you never lose track of your work.
Get into a routine
Getting into a routine was one of the best ways to get work done fast and done well. Starting a day right really sets you up for success. I started mine with a good breakfast and an overview of the ‘To do list’ I had for the day.
It was important to set a specific amount of time for each task and not get carried away doing something that would take away too much of it. A great way of doing that was to switch between big and small tasks. This was especially important as getting away from the computer screen was necessary to keep me from getting a headache – among other negative effects of sitting in front of the computer for too long. Stepping away from the academic tasks helped me clear my head and kept me more focused when I returned to it after the break.
A proper break
Having an actual break which involved doing some exercise, watching a film or taking a nice walk in the park were also very helpful. I found that exercise and walks in the morning after breakfast were an amazing energy booster. Doing assignments after such a fresh start was so much easier and much less stressful. It was also good for getting me out of bed, which was an alluring place to be during lockdown.
Working on your computer on a desk is so much better. Haaving a designated ‘work-space’ where you feel comfortable but more motivated. It also helped me sleep better at night, knowing that my bed was a place for rest rather than endless work.
The online teaching experience
Having online lectures was a very fascinating experience. Like most of my colleagues at first, I thought that this would impede our learning. But the process turned out more fun and efficient than I could have ever imagined.
Having your lecturer on a screen delivering a presentation while you are still able to have your breakfast in peace was very strange. If anything, online lectures were far less stressful and demanding and even less time consuming. You didn’t have to get changed into presentable clothes if you didn’t want to, or spend time travelling to campus, or indeed talk over other people when trying to have a discussion.
Taking a stand
Active participation was important though. If you didn’t want to get involved or had nothing to say, there was no pressure from your lecturer to do so but, if you did, it was much easier to do it, whether by writing in the group chat or indeed turning on your microphone and taking a stand. I confess it was a bit tense for me at first but, once you start talking, it feels so much better than doing it in class, because no one is looking at you or interrupting you.
It honestly felt like I am having a one-on-one discussion with the lecturer sometimes, on a topic that I am passionate about, without the pressure of actually maintaining the conversation.
Doing group work was a bit challenging because of the lack of time we had but, once we acknowledged that, our focus increased, and we made decisions much faster. Using online tools takes some getting used to, but in the end was great fun to see so many variations of presentations and learn from others, because we all figured it out together.
Graduation is an important milestone, and this was thoroughly appreciated by the University. The support we received from the staff was amazing, with lecturers being more available than ever, replying to emails faster and arranging online meetings as soon as you’d need them.
For our final lecture this semester our lecturer was able to play us a special song on his guitar, an experience we would undoubtedly not had were we in a classroom. This formed a special memory in my mind, whether from the circumstances or indeed the support and understanding we received.
Rather than think we were deprived from social contact, I believe this situation has made us more connected with our peers and the University. We had an opportunity to study differently and learn more about using online platforms we perhaps never knew existed. If anything, we have gotten more from university than we originally intended.
And yes, my original plan to enter a graduate programme at a 5-star hotel has certainly changed, but this only encouraged me to search for new opportunities, and has given me more time to contemplate my aspiration for a career and enabled me to take a new direction in searching for jobs with a much more open-minded approach.
Here are my top tips for you:
- Form a routine that is suitable for you
- Have a ‘To do list’ with both big and small tasks for the day, assign them with appropriate times and don’t be stressed if you cannot do them all in the same day
- Switch between big and small tasks
- Have breaks and go outside when possible
- Find a suitable working space
- Keep track of your online activity – where you find the books you need and reference them straight away as you work
- Keep in touch with your lecturers and the university support system which is there to help you in any way you need