I’m just about to hit my anniversary of a full year of online learning. Online school wasn’t entirely a new concept to me before the world essentially went into lockdown last year, so I thought that I would be more than prepared to handle an entirely online course load at the start of spring term last year. A full year into it, I realize that I was not equipped, either mentally or physically for what the pandemic would do to the world of higher education.
Online learning is a chore. A very exhausting chore. To be frank, it requires a lot of mental strength and a lot of willpower to not tab out of Zoom or D2L and open up something more interesting. Last year, I had a lot more resolve to stay put and stay on task with my school work. These days I find myself just looking for any kind of excuse to open some other online window and work on a personal project instead. I mentally justify my slacking off by claiming that, “At least I’m still working on something.” I get my schoolwork done and square everything away in a timely manner, but it’s proven to take more energy than I ever thought it would.
About a year ago, I was pretty optimistic about virtual learning and the online classroom, but Zoom fatigue is real. For me, Zoom completely sucks the fun and engagement out of education and nothing about school feels even remotely (pun intended) the same as meeting physically in the classroom. I miss packing my bag and making sure I had all my ducks in a row before heading out to class. I miss the sense of fulfillment walking back to my dorm after class concluded. All the little things like that, I’ve seriously come to miss. All that said, I’ve developed some strategies for making the best out of the current virtual setup. One of the most helpful things, I’ve found, is that I need to set up my current workspace to make sure that it actually feels like a workplace. My own workplace, in particular. That means I need an organized desk, a laptop, and office supplies within arm’s reach, as well as miscellaneous collectibles and oddities at my side. I like to feel grounded when I work and I’ve found that personalizing my space is the best option for that, and, in turn, ensures that my online learning goes as smoothly as possible, even though a possible end is in sight. I can only hope that, should things go smoothly in the upcoming months, that students will be able to return to campus in the fall.