Electronic Tips for Online Learning

It's officially been a month of online courses for the Fall 2020 semester. I have certainly experienced some faults that come with learning virtually and with just my laptop. I have been able to find ways to make my online learning/laptop experience more comfortable.

  1. 1. Buy a Laptop Stand!

    Over the summer, I discovered the wonderful laptop stand! Having been without one during the second half of the Spring 2020 semester, I realized that my back hurt a little bit and my posture was horrible. Also, the angles on from my Zoom camera were awful (you’re lying if you say you don’t look at yourself during a Zoom lecture).

    Here is the laptop stand that I own (from Amazon).

     

    The benefits of a laptop stand include the following:

    Tilt design improves airflow around the laptop.

    Tilt design brings screen closer

    Raised screen meets the eye level for better posture.

    Increases screen height by a few inches (mine raises it by 6 in.)

    Cable organizer behind hides away messy cables.

    Keyboard stash clears up desk area when not in use.

    Solid stability

     

    Needless to say, this has been a purchase that I do not regret whatsoever.

  2. 2. Use Night Shift

    In one of my classes, we were going around explaining our complaints and our praises for online learning (e.g. asynchronous vs. synchronous classes, etc) and heard a great tip about using Night Shift! You’ve probably heard the statistics about blue light (from electronics) interfering with our precious eyesight and natural sleep cycles, and you have most likely found yourself squinting while looking at your computer screen! You’ve heard about those fashionable blue light glasses! Well, there’s another (free!) way to combat the blue light and exhausted eyes! I highly recommend using Night Shift!

     

    Go to Settings > Display > Night Shift > Color Temperature: MORE WARM (slide the circle to the right of the sliding scale.*)

     

    I also use the Night Shift Schedule!

    Schedule: Custom

    From: 5:00 AM >>>>>> To: 4:59 AM

     

    By setting this schedule for Night Shift, you can be confident that Night Shift is on even during the day! This means that Night Shift will turn on at 5:00 AM on Wednesday, and turn off at 4:59 AM on Thursday. Then, it’ll turn on again at 5:00 AM (just a minute later)! It’s quite a lifesaver!

     

    *NOTE: the MORE WARM setting may distort coloration on your computer; so if you’re working with editing programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. It may distort your work, so in that situation, buy blue light glasses (they can be quite cheap).

  3. 3. Turn On "Do Not Disturb Mode"

    If you also have applications on your laptop that have pop-up notifications, and there are times when you don't want them to distract you (e.g. during an online exam or during class), you can use Do Not Disturb on your computer!

     

    Go to Settings Notification > Do Not Disturb.

    You can even set a schedule for Do Not Disturb, just like for your phone! My only complaint with the Do Not Disturb mode is I cannot customize it to my class schedule.

  4. 4. Use Multiple Desktops/Wallpapers

    Do you ever find yourself scrambling between different tabs and applications, trying to find the right tabs? Do you find that your search tabs for one class being confused with tabs for another class?

    Same. That is why I use multiple “desktops”. On your Macbook computer, you can set this up with a three-finger motion on the mouse pad in an upward motion (from bottom to top, towards the keyboard). Your window will minimize to the top of your screen; on the top right of your screen, you’ll see a + sign. Click that! IT’ll create a new “desktop” for you!

     

    On each desktop, I recommend using different wallpapers. Customize the background to your preference on each “desktop”. I have desktops organized as follows:

    Class 1 (Green background)

    Class 2 (Blue background)

    Class 3 (Red background)

    Class 4 (Yellow background)

    Fun applications (Personalized background)

     

    This way, when I see what tabs are open and I see the background color of the desktop, I’ll know what subject this is for. But, don’t be fooled, having too many tabs open can still slow down your browser and you may hear the dreaded laptop fan trying to cool down if it’s processing too many items at once (sound familiar? Same here).

  5. 5. Hide Your Application Doc

    I discovered that you can hide your application doc on the Macbook back in high school. This allows you to have an inch more of screen visibility!

    Go to Settings > Dock > check "Automatically Show and Hide Dock"

    When you want to see your application doc again (regardless of which edge you set it to) you can quickly swipe down and find it! It makes your screen less cluttered, as well!

  6. 6. Set Up Hot Corners

    I recently discovered hot corners (all thanks to Julia K Crist on YouTube) and they have become a lifesaver! You can have your mouse/cursor initiate any action you want depending on which corner of your computer screen you move it to!

     

    I set it up the following way:

    Top Left: -

    Top Right: Notification Center (for quick and easy access to the Do Not Disturb/Night Shift mode)

    Bottom Left: Launchpad (to find applications faster that may not be on my application doc)

    Bottom Right: Mission Control (to see what applications I have open on your current desktop window)

     

    Go to Settings > Desktop and Screensaver > Screen Saver tab > Hot Corners (bottom right corner of the application).

  7. 7. Use Sticky Notes

    Apple Macbooks come with e-Sticky Notes! I use these to write to-do lists! You can customize the fonts and the colors of each sticky note! AND with your multiple desktop windows, you’ll be able to have different sticky notes for different desktops and your to-do list for one class won’t be lost with another sticky note for another class! You can create a sticky note for short-term assignments, one for deadlines, one for links, and so much more!

     

    You can also put photos in your sticky notes (a trick I also learned from Julia K Crist) so you can place a photograph of you, you+your friends, pets, partner, etc. and see it when you have your sticky notes open!

  8. 8. Create Folders for Most-Used Bookmarks

    This tip is one of my favorite tips and ensures that I’m not late for class! I’ve been creating folders for my bookmarks on Safari and Google Chrome for years and have found the ultimate use for them this semester: bookmark the link to your Class or even to your Professor’s Office Hours or even to Zoom for a student club/organization! Or you can even link it to a friend’s Zoom if you meet there rather than FaceTime.

  9. 9. Zoom Tip 1: Speaker View vs. Gallery View

    This tip is only helpful if you also feel awkward during Zoom lectures, I highly recommend switching your Zoom view to Speaker view, especially when the professor is sharing their screen/slides! This way, you won’t be distracted by your peers in their Zoom windows and you can focus on the notes on the slide.

  10. 10. Zoom Tip 2: Use Picture in Picture

    Whether you like to type notes or are working on a project while the professor is screen-sharing, and you’re trying to follow along (like I do for my graphic design class), you no longer have to go back and forth from Zoom to your note-taking application/project window!

     

    In the new version of Zoom (as of 09/24/2020), when someone else shares their screen, you can switch which window is larger, the speaker or the screen. When a screen (other than yours) is being shared, click on the button where you can usually choose Speaker view or Gallery view. You’ll see the option “Standard View” and the other participants’ videos will pop out, click the top left of the screen and you’ll be able to switch the screen being shared and the participant videos. Now, you can go to a different application and follow along with your professor as they are lecturing or are walking you through a project!

I hope these tips help you stay organized and make those online classes (asynchronous and synchronous) a bit more comfortable and a bit less arduous!

Disclaimer: Her Campus at St. Law U is neither sponsored by nor affiliated with any brands or companies mentioned in this article.