We’re close to 150 days since The Email that told us not to come back to school after spring break, and I think we can all agree that none of us are thrilled that this has lasted this long. Although some students have in-person classes, a lot of us are revving up for another semester of distance learning at the esteemed Zoom University. Online classes took a bit of adjusting to last semester, but we’ve worked out a lot of the kinks. Of course, there’s still the glaring issue of broadband access inequality, but sadly that cannot be fixed by a knock-off Buzzfeed shopping article (it’s called self awareness, baby). However, if you’ve got down the basics but are looking to elevate your distance learning experience, look no further. Here are 5 products that will take your Zoom classes to the next level.
- Bluetooth Headset
Tired of your voice cutting in and out during your sociology discussion? Or, if you’re like me, do you like to pace around your room during your 3 hour seminar? This headset will become your new best friend. It comfortably fits over the ear and I honestly forget that it’s even there. Though my friends do make fun of how “corporate” I look, using a headset has really changed my distance learning experience for the better. Its use is not just limited to school though; I’m being 100% serious when I say that this has greatly improved my Zoom dates. He can hear me better, I’m not blasting his voice over my computer speakers for my house to hear through the thin walls, and I think it gives me a bit of a ~girl boss~ aesthetic. 10/10 college girls recommend (don’t cite me on that).
- USB Webcam
I had to get a webcam when my laptop’s camera broke, but the webcam is so great that I’m not even mad the camera broke at this point. Firstly, the video quality is great, which is helpful for class and the aforementioned Zoom dates. It’s time to break out the FDOS outfit/makeup combo; this webcam will fully allow you to stunt on the class. It’s also adjustable so you can turn the camera away from the pile of dirty clothes behind you, without having to change your computer position. A USB webcam is also the best way to go if you’re worried about your FBI agent spying on you because you can keep the tape over your laptop camera and simply unplug your webcam when you’re not using it. I mean, I want my FBI agent to see the looks I’m serving to each class, but I understand that not all of y’all are on that level with your agent yet.
- Blue Light Glasses
Okay, full disclosure, the American Academy of Ophthalmology says that there’s no actual scientific evidence that blue light glasses actually reduce eyestrain. In fact, blue light doesn’t even cause eye strain, apparently the fact that we blink less while looking at screens is what makes our eyes uncomfortable. That being said, anecdotal evidence shouldn’t be completely ignored. Many people say their blue light glasses have helped them a lot! If you struggle with eye strain and are desperate to try anything, blue light glasses can’t hurt. Amazon has some pretty cute ones too, with different colors and patterns for an affordable price and good reviews! As a woman of science, I have to tell you that it might all be a hoax, but it can’t hurt to try them out!
- A Planner
I’ve been a self proclaimed “slut for planners” most of my life, but I’ll admit that I stopped using mine once we went online. It just didn’t feel necessary at the time, but I do regret it. Using my planner keeps me in a routine, something we’re all missing in quarantine. If you like scheduling your life online, keep at it with Google calendar, but if you’re old school like me, you have so many options. I typically use an actual planner for scheduling meetings and keeping track of dates, but I like using soft cover dotted grid notebooks (these are the ones I use!) for my hourly/daily/weekly to-do lists (yes, I’m neurotic). The site linked above is a really cool, Black-owned Etsy shop that sells printable planner inserts, which is my favorite way to use planners. Using a small ringed binder/portfolio with planner inserts allows you to customize it exactly to your liking, and you don’t have to buy a new planner every year!
As I said earlier, I’m a woman of science. Specifically, I’m an ~aspiring~ epidemiologist. I would be a terrible public health professional if I didn’t include masks on this list. Even if all of your classes are online, it’s not like you’re never going to leave your house. This is even more important if you do have in-person classes. I’ve been thinking a lot about what will happen when you inevitably wake up late and speed walk to class, but in your rush out the door, forget your mask. You don’t realize until you get to class. What happens? Does the professor send you back? I have no idea! You’re going to need masks on you all the time, in your purse, backpack, and most importantly, on your face. There are a ton of free tutorials so you can make the masks yourself, but if you want to support a small business, Etsy and Depop are great places to find your new go-to masks. These are easy ways to support Black-owned businesses, just search “black owned masks” and a ton of results come up. Some of my favorites are this floral mask and these masks that come in a bunch of cool patterns!