Welcome to our second full semester with a majority of, if not all of, our classes online. While I am sure we were hoping for a crumb of human interaction, we have a perfect excuse to avoid walking across the Drillfield in thirty-degree weather. It is nearly impossible to consider every worst-nightmare situation this semester, but these tips should help you finish the school year strong with slightly less panic:
- Notify your professor immediately if you have an unstable wi-fi connection
I don't doubt that every email from the past five months has asked that you communicate with your professors, but I cannot stress it enough. Just as you would tell a friend that you can no longer make it to lunch, your professors want to know if you will not be in class. Last semester, I would consider myself to have had a “good day” if my wi-fi only kicked me out of my Zoom lecture one time. On a bad day, it would take several failed attempts to rejoin before sending a rushed email apologizing profusely for being absent while resetting my router. I was fortunate enough to have professors who worked with me through the stress, and I am sure that it was thanks to telling them early on about my poor wi-fi connection.
- Rest your eyes consistently while working
Digital eye strain, or computer vision symptom (CVS), describes a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged use of digital devices. The sudden increase in virtual work may have caused you to notice frequent headaches or rubbing your eyes more than you used to. People who spend two or more continuous hours at a computer or using a digital screen device every day are at the highest risk for developing CVS. As students, it's common to spend countless hours behind a screen. We become laser-focused on completing assignments and researching articles for your project. Amid the busy work, we may choose to ignore the discomfort we feel in our eyes. However, it's extremely important to take breaks throughout work sessions. Perhaps a walk during a Blacksburg winter is off the table, but consider setting aside a few minutes to stretch or make yourself a snack. Not only will your eyes thank you, but your mind and body will, too!
- Make time for your asynchronous classes
While it’s refreshing to have recorded lectures instead of scheduled meetings, it can be easy to disregard your workload. Asynchronous classes typically have assignments due every week, rather than every class time. As soon as you see that Canvas notification, I highly recommend reading them in full. That way, you have it in the back of your mind, and you have an approximate idea of how long it will take you to complete it in case you plan on resuming it at a later time. Save yourself the worry of last-minute spell check before submitting something on Friday at 11:59 p.m.
I know that online classes are not ideal. However, we need to remember that they are in the best interest of the Blacksburg community. Keep your peers, neighbors and yourself safe by learning from home. To those with on-campus classes, please be safe. Do not forget to socially distance, to wear your mask, and to have a bottle of hand sanitizer at all times.
For more COVID-19 resources for students, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.