- Make eye contact during webinars. We are social creatures by nature, and many of us crave connection — whether we realize it or not. When face-to-face with someone, that connection is made easier with eye contact. But just because you’re learning in a digital format doesn’t mean you can’t engage. Looking at the speaker and trying to make eye contact is one easy way to do that.
- Block browsing on other websites during webinars. When you don’t literally have a teacher or fellow classmate looking over your shoulder during the lesson, it’s easy to think you can give in to that siren call of distraction. By shutting down windows and tabs or blocking browsing during your lesson, you give yourself the best chance of devoting your full attention to the subject at hand.
- Find an accountability buddy. There’s a reason why many people struggle with maintaining at-home workouts. We need someone to hold us accountable. Although your professors will check on your attendance, making friends with a classmate will make it easier for you both to check in with one another and ensure you’re attending lessons and completing assignments. (Plus, think of the networking benefits!)
- Ask questions and engage. To really engage with a subject, you have to ask questions. In some ways, digital learning can make it easier to do that — especially for those of us who are introverts. The fear of raising your hand in front of everyone is eliminated, and you can submit your questions in a chat or email format. Also, don’t forget that you can use extra resources, like our database and literature access tools, to access supplementary reading materials.
- Find strategies to help you cope with screen fatigue. Whether we’re calling it screen exhaustion, Zoom fatigue or tech burnout, the problems are still the same: stress, frustration and even headaches or eye strain. In addition to making sure you switch off, get some exercise and pay attention to your posture while you are at a screen, it’s important to take regular breaks — even if they are just for a short stretch, a walk around the block or a trip to the kitchen for a drink. Some experts suggest the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away. You can also use this break to blink since we know that we don’t blink as often as we need to when we’re looking at screens (which can make our eyes feel dry). Also, consider whether you might be able to do a voice call instead of a video call, particularly if you’re working with a study partner — even better if you can take the call while out in nature.
- Take advantage of opportunities to connect. In terms of networking, we will continue to encourage students to access our impressive network of 200+ industry partners by hosting virtual employer fairs and internships. Less formal (but no less important) peer-to-peer connections will also be supported through monthly digital networking events for our international student community. On top of that, we will invite inspiring guest speakers to host regular keynote sessions and webinar series to increase your knowledge and help you feel engaged with the SMI community. By joining in with any (or all) of these opportunities, you will get the most out of your time with SMI.
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