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Pyjamas, cameras, and cups of coffee: 5 tips for online classes

Take it from me, Bro – wearing pyjamas is not always a good thing…

By Nikos Papanikolaou

This academic year will be different than others for many reasons. It will be a year where most of the classes will be online, and a year in which we all need to maintain social distancing. Hopefully we will have the chance to be physically in class before this academic year is over. 

I was one of the students who experienced the transition from having classes in person to having them online. I’ll be honest with you; it was confusing at the beginning. Obviously, no one was prepared for something that big. However, London Metropolitan University did great even if there were some issues; Don’t forget, it was a violent transition way back in March, and none of us were completely prepared. 

Having completed a semester online, I have some tips for you to make your new digital university life more comfortable. 

1. Don’t underestimate the class because it’s online. Online or not, you have to be there on time, and you have to pay attention. This is especially important during your first year, when you will be learning fundamental things about your studies. Make sure you wake up an hour in advance, not five minutes before the class starts. Give yourself some time to wake up. Have a good breakfast and drink some coffee. Don’t rush, have some time to do all these things. Trust me, this one hour will be crucial for you and your performance. 

2. Wear some clothes. Don’t start a class while wearing pyjamas. I have two reasons for this. The first reason is that by making an effort to wear clothes – even if you’re home – you’re showing respect towards your tutors and your classmates. The second reason is that wearing clothes will help you feel that you’re not sinking into this “doing everything from home” era that we’re living. It’s pretty easy to let go, so put on some clothes before you switch on your camera. It doesn’t have to be a suit – a pair of jeans and a t-shirt will do just fine!

3. Try to have your camera switched on unless you have a serious reason not to. First of all, it gives a sense of physicality, even if the class is online. You can see if someone’s laughing or if someone is serious. The days I had the chance to see my classmates’ and my tutors’ faces helped me a lot to cope with lockdown depression.  Also, it’s the polite thing to do. Simple as that. If your tutor has the camera on, you should do the same. Now, if you don’t want to – for a good reason – I would say that it’s good to let your tutors know in advance. It will save you from a possibly awkward situation. 

4. Ask questions if you don’t understand something. The fact that the class is online doesn’t mean that you can’t ask questions. I know for a fact that tutors at London Metropolitan University are more than happy to answer them. Also, try to keep notes. It will help you with keeping up, even if the slides will be available after the end of the class. You know best what you need to pay attention to, so please do it. If you have questions after the end of the class, please email your lecturer. It’s essential to do it as soon as you can, otherwise either you will forget it, or you will lose track. 

5. And for those of you in Journalism: complete your journals on the day. I know, it can be annoying but the sooner you’ll do it, the better. I’ll be honest with you, I have left some journals for the end of the semester, and that wasn’t very pleasant. Firstly, it was close to impossible to remember that particular day to reflect on it in the journal. If you have an excellent memory, good for you, but if your memory is not that good, please try to do it on the day. Also, your tutors know if you have your journals ready on time. You’re not fooling them. So writing 30 journals within two hours won’t make a difference. The point of the journal is the reflection of a particular day and your chance of saying if you didn’t like something in the class. 

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