Wellness in Online Learning

Wellness in Online Learning

By Mikaila De Sousa

The eLearning environment offers many perks.  Such perks include convenience, flexibility and accessibility. While there are many advantages to online learning, it does not come without challenges.  Some of these challenges can even threaten our wellness.  The World Health Organization defines wellness as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. In my experience, I have learned that the top 3 challenges that can impede your progress and affect your well-being during the process of eLearning are:

  1. Isolation
  2. Computer Literacy
  3. Prioritization

Here are some tips and tricks that you may find helpful as you embark on your eLearning journey.

Isolation

While learning at your own pace has significant benefits, the online environment can feel lonely. Feeling like you have a sense of community online is complex, especially when you are indeed physically alone as you complete tasks, and work your way through modules.  While the traditional classroom offers opportunities for in-person encounters, conversation and pleasantries, we know that these kinds of connections are scarcer in the online environment.  A way to combat feelings of isolation are to interact with classmates through video chats rather than email, especially if you’re working on a group project. Take your laptop to a nearby coffee shop so you can work surrounded by people, and thus, maintain a connection to the human world.  You may want to consider organizing study groups if some of your classmates live in the same city as you.  Finally, don’t forget to connect with friends outside of classwork and plan fun outings to keep yourself sane!

Computer Literacy

With all its rapidly changing technology, it can be hard to stay up to date with the latest computer functions and features.  This is particularly difficult in the online platform as different media and software are constantly being introduced. The onslaught of new technologies and steep learning curves, can affect our well-being.  You may feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of innovative information and skills you have to absorb.  In order to minimize this pressure, the best thing to do is ask for help! Oftentimes, new software companies offer 24/7 virtual assistance.  Moreover, much of what I’ve learned when it comes to how to use certain technology is via YouTube tutorials. There are very creative people out there who make educational how-to videos on almost anything! And finally, reach out to a tech-savvy friend, chances are they’d be more than happy to pass on their knowledge. At the very least, don’t struggle learning something new when help is right around the corner.

Prioritization

Typically, online students are not only students. They are working full or part-time, have child or care-giver responsibilities and/or competing life commitments that make for a very full schedule.  It can be hard to know how to prioritize with deadlines, assignment and exams, especially when everything is important! The best way to tackle this is through effective time management.  If you’ve never used an agenda before, this might be the perfect time to start! Chunking your days into various time slots that are dedicated to your various obligations is a good way to make sure everything gets done. For example, you might consider blocking off 3 mornings a week that are devoted to homework and essay writing, and leave the afternoons free to run errands or complete chores. Additionally, scheduling in breaks and lunches as a reminder to take care of yourself can go a long way. 

Being an online student offers wonderful opportunities for everyone to achieve their educational goals no matter what season of life they are in. It is important to be mindful that we need to keep ourselves well in the midst of the chaos. Even if it takes longer for you to complete your degree, sacrificing your well-being is not worth the expense.  Once you have familiarized yourself with some of the eLearning challenges you may encounter (and this list is by no means exhaustive) you will be prepared to overcome them! 

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