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Living and learning in a virtual world: Online school can be fun

Like it or not, online learning and online medicine is now permanently part of our lives  – at least on some level. Once the pandemic protocols are lessened, schools will probably use online learning in special circumstances – like snow days. Below are a few tips for online education and getting the most out of your coursework.

And telemedicine has proven a value option that many medical facilities will continue to use in some circumstances. If you are going to work in medicine, now is a good time to get comfortable with virtual meetings and appointments.

Here’s how can you get the most of your online world:

  • Turn on your camera: Bad hair day? House a mess? Put on a hat and change the camera angle if you want, but still turn on your camera! It makes it more rewarding for the teacher and other students. They want to see your smiling face. And if you look confused – well, that’s information they need too! Trust us, you’ll get more out of it with the camera on!
  • Have fun with your background: Roomrater” – which is @ratemyskyperoom on Twitter – has made a game out of rating people’s backgrounds. The good news is a fun background doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy. What matters most is showing some personality and positioning the camera well. (For example, don’t angle it where you see mostly forehead!) You can take any blank corner of your home and make it “your background” with an old poster or your kids’ art – if all else fails, pick a fun virtual background.  There are lots of free backgrounds online – like these of Kentucky and these of MedQuest College available for download.
  • Develop a routine: Bleh! No one likes the idea of developing a routine, it sounds so rigid. But you will probably find that you enjoy having a routine. Pick three things you will always do before logging on. For example, you might pick: always sitting in the same chair, always getting a glass of water, and always setting up the kids with a favorite movie. These things aren’t hard, but they are routine moves that will signal to yourself (and everyone else in the house) that it’s time for you to start learning!

Tips for Online Education: Remember to ask for help

One of the most common complaints teachers have: Not enough questions!  Questions aren’t just valuable to you, but they are helpful to other students and good feedback for the instructor. She knows what she did and didn’t explain well!

If you’re going into a medical field, it’s also good practice. You’ll need to ask patients questions – you can’t be shy about it!

If you feel more intimidated about asking questions in a virtual environment – you’re not alone. But there are ways to become more comfortable with your classmates. For example, be deliberate about being early to class. Unless your teacher says otherwise, that can be a good time to ask questions or chat with classmates about the latest binge-worthy tv show, or even just the weather. Feeling comfortable in class will make you feel more comfortable about asking questions!

Another option is to schedule an online study group – meeting with your classmates for an hour a week, even if you spend part of it joking around – will help your performance in class. You’ll feel more comfortable and learn more.

Finally, remember to always be up front about larger issues. If you’re struggling because of a Wi-Fi issue at home, a sick child, or a job conflict, be sure to talk to your teacher about it. Most of the time, they will want to help!  And have good ideas. (Often they are struggling with some of the same issues!)