By Luis Armando Sanchez Diaz, October 7 2020—
Every course, with only a few exceptions, has transitioned online in some way resulting in a huge change in the way students and faculty learn and teach during this term and beyond. As reported by the Gauntlet, the Winter 2021 term will mostly be delivered remotely. The new reality requires all university-related members to find strategies and tools to approach this new system in the best possible way — ones that help you become or stay organized.
We’re one month into the Fall 2020 term and even if you’re familiar with online learning because of previous terms, you know that no semester is the same. Each has unique challenges and difficulties. Regardless of the year you’re currently in, you can always use some helpful resources to improve your productivity and time-management.
Setting a calendar or reminder app on your phone might become very handy to stay on track. Apps such as “Google Calendar” and “Microsoft To Do” are great for becoming more organized and getting all your assignments done on time. The latter consists of a list of added tasks — either on a daily basis or for a future date — while the former helps you build a schedule with pre-set reminders of the time when you have an event or class to attend or task to do.
On the other hand, if you’d like to stay organized while avoiding technology at all cost or are weary that the reminders might not work, you can always print blank calendars from Google and write down all the due dates you have. Use markers and coloured pens to make it more appealing. If you feel that you don’t have the energy or time to do this, you can always buy planners online for reasonable prices if you know where to search.
One of the perks of being a student at the University of Calgary is that you can not only access Zoom Pro but also you can download Office 365 for free and have access to all the tools that each app offers. Just open Microsoft Office Home, add your UCalgary email account and you’ll find on the upper-right corner the button “Install Office” to download it. These programs can be used to write your papers, do presentations and use spreadsheets.
When accessing your lectures try to turn on your camera so they become more human and your professors get to meet you and other students. Engage in as many conversations as you possibly can to put your knowledge in practice and to challenge yourself. Stay in-contact with professors and TAs and reach them for any questions you have during office hours — they will always assist you. It is a huge privilege to be attending a post-secondary institution at the academic level that UCalgary offers, and we must make the most out of this experience.
It is difficult to learn when lectures are purely online and we’re missing a lot of the good experiences that we would have if classes were in-person. But one thing that is certain is that most of us are going to be able to have normal classes and return to campus in the near future — or set a foot in it for the first time. Keep going.
Your well-being is very important — take some time off for yourself, watch a series, take a walk, play with your pets, do some yoga or take a nap. There needs to be a balance between the academic and personal sides of your life for you to be successful. Remember to be patient with this new reality, use the resources that work for you and keep in mind the dreams you have because by working hard one day they will be part of your life.