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Posted on: 17 Sep 2020

Recipe for a Good Start

So you’ve made it! You are officially a student of CIT! Sincerest congratulations from the whole Good Start team!

We know starting out can be difficult, we’ve all been there! The butterflies, the semi awkward first conversations, getting lost… the list goes on but there is nothing to fear. Life would be boring if everything went perfectly.

As you enter into a semester of blended learning we as a team have put together useful tips and tricks for online learning that we found worked for us last semester! 

Preparing for your day behind a screen

Try not to worry too much if your laptop has a faulty mic, or the battery dies faster than it charges �� The Zoom & Canvas app works perfectly well on phones. 

(Did you know that the Government has allocated over €500,000 to CIT as part of a laptop scheme to assist in remote learning?❗ Find out if you qualify to apply for this scheme, which is run through CIT’s Student Assistance Fund, at www.mycit.ie/saf)

No matter what form your screen takes, how we prepare to sit facing the screen for a day of lectures should look the same.

Firstly, try to set up your workstation in a place where there is a lot of light (but make sure the window isn't directly behind you, as you will look like a ghost ��).

In an ideal world, you wouldn't work in your bedroom, to create some distinction between work and rest however, I'm a fellow inhabitant of the real world and have to work from my bedroom. I keep my desk in a corner of the room and reserve it for working/learning only.

A fellow Good Start Ambassador spoke of lighting incense or a candle with a certain scent when sitting down to study ��. This triggers memory responses in the brain, which might make it easier for you to switch to 'work mode'.

Etiquette for ONLINE CLASSES 

As you embark on your year at CIT, many of your classes may be held online. It’s important to be polite and appear professional online during these sessions. The following steps are a handy guide for you to follow as you begin your journey on Zoom with virtual lectures. We believe that these steps can help you become an expert at online classes and meetings!

  • It might not always be possible but, if you can, turn your camera on! This is a great way to get familiar with your class group. It allows you to smile at others and them to smile back. It’s an easy way to build a friendly connection while being online.
  • Mute your microphone. This is a handy tip to avoid several noises blocking out the lecturer/ host of the meeting. If you need to speak, simply unmute and chat away!
  • Raise your hand or use the ‘reactions’. This is a great way to capture the hosts’ attention and then you can unmute to ask the question.
  • Be aware of your study space and surroundings. If you have your camera on, which we encourage you to do, be conscious that others in the meeting can see your background. Get rid of any clutter or items you don’t want to share on Zoom! This will prepare you and help to become more professional on Zoom.
  • Listen and be attentive in class and any meetings you have. Everyone is trying their best and getting used to the new way of learning and teaching so join lectures every day with a smile and keen interest to learn something new.

Preventing Screen Fatigue

Preventing eye-strain or “screen fatigue” isn’t something most people think about, but it can be something that can seriously affect you in the long run.

You might think that that’s nonsense; that you look at your phone all day, everyday anyway, so a laptop or computer won’t be much different. Well, your laptop is probably about 3 times the size of your phone, so it’s going to be beaming just over 3 times the amount of light into your eyes, which is a very different story.

The simplest way to combat this is the 20/20/20 rule. This refreshes your eyes and forces them to have to work a little. The process of doing it is pretty simple. Every 20 minutes look at something 20ft away for 20 seconds. Instead of staring at a screen four feet in front of your face for hours on end, this gives your eyes the chance to reset and focus on something different. It’s the eye-equivalent of getting up and stretching your legs every now and then. You’d honestly be surprised how something as small as this can impact your eyes for the better throughout the day.

The biggest sense of screen-fatigue is probably going to come from working late into the night and staring at the screen just before you go to sleep. Screens beam blue light into your eyes which end up making your brain think it’s still day time and as a result they have trouble falling asleep. The best and easiest way to combat this is with a blue light filter. There are several out there but the best, easiest and cheapest has to be f.lux. F.lux is an app that runs in the background of your computer. You tell it what time you wake up in the morning, and once it gets past a certain time, f.lux will slowly start removing blue light from your computer for the day. This, in turn, slowly gets your body in sleep mode and helps your eyes to relax themselves. The best thing is that it’s free and it has a lot of customisation options so that you can have it start and end whenever you want.

Balancing Life Online with Real Life

Some of you may have experienced online lectures already, some of you not. Either way, it doesn’t have to be miserable! Yep, you heard me, NOT miserable! The most important thing to remember when working remotely (and working in general), is that you need to strike a balance between your studies, work and downtime. With that in mind, here are our top tips for balancing the world of online and real life.

For when you’re in class/studying:

  • When you are supposed to be working, WORK goddamnit! If you have an hour of work to do, do an hour's work. Stretching it throughout the day will leave you feeling like you’ve been working all day, and yet very little has been accomplished. Push yourself to stick to your timetable
  • If you are learning online - whether on zoom or on canvas - put the phone away. Having a box, separate room, or even a person to hold onto it for you will help you to focus on the task at hand, and to not feel plagued with various distractions
  • Take regular breaks. Working on a screen all day has its challenges, and it can be even more difficult to stay focused than usual. For self-directed work, make sure you are giving yourself breaks every 45 minutes or so to make the most productive use of your time. With online classes, if your lecturers aren't giving you any breaks in long lectures, why not ask them if this is a possibility? Don't be afraid to bring it up with them in a friendly and professional way! I'm sure they'll be delighted to see you engaging and offering your opinion! 

When not in class/in your free time:

  • Give yourself a break!
  • Make yourself a pamper routine (men, ye are included in this too!). For example, making yourself a cup of tea, throwing on some fluffy socks, listening to some music, taking a shower or bath - anything you want that will help you unplug and rejuvenate yourself.
  • Make time to be completely off screen, whether it be for 2 hours or 20 minutes. This is so, so important, especially if you are working remotely. Be strict with yourself, and put the phone away for a set amount of time
  • Go for walks and get some exercise in - need I explain the importance of this one?
  • Get outside - even if just for a brief stroll, getting outside and reconnecting with the world is crucial when we have been on screens all day.

At the end of the day it's all about balance. It's easy to burn out if you're working yourself to the bone, and you'll only make yourself miserable! Likewise, if you don't put in the work, you'll end up with more stress further down the line.

It's all about Balance baby! ������ Looking forward to seeing you on screen!

Have you followed us online yet? Get in touch if you have any questions on https://m.facebook.com/CITGoodStart/ Facebook or Instagram @citgoodstart 

The Good Start Ambassador Team


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