On-Line Learning Challenges
Sixth former, Siphesihle Zondi’s Lows and Highs of On-line Learning
Amid the ongoing lockdown period implemented by the government to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, companies, hospitals, sporting personnel and the general public started using social media to spread words of encouragement to motivate the citizens of the country to stay safe and persevere throughout this fight against Covid-19. Meanwhile as a student, I too had a battle to fight. That battle to actually start learning in a very different environment as we had to start learning online.
To start with the lows of online learning, you must fathom the fact that waking up without any schedule set out for me meant that, in my mind, I am practically on holiday. I had freedom. This is why in the early stages of this lockdown I thought I had all the time in the world to finish any tasks set out by teachers because I could finish the work now or later, but preferably later because I had movies to watch and television programs to catch up on then. That’s when procrastination set in and instead of working for about 4 hours a day, I worked 2 hours and for the most part of these ‘working hours’, I would stare blankly at my book and wonder why my handwriting was so illegible or I’d think about the jokes my friends and I would be sharing in accounting class.
I then adopted this habit of sleeping late using my mobile data for watching Netflix and being on social media, and then waking up early because my parents would wake the family up at nine o’clock for a short prayer before continuing with their activities for the day. This means I had minimal sleep and would then feel restless during the day and not do my work. Again, nobody would condemn me or judge me because I had the freedom of doing anything I wanted.
It was mid-April when I woke up feeling stressed and pressured because I now had an exorbitant amount of work to catch up on and data was becoming scarce, so I had to strictly use it for schoolwork only. I then told myself to change my lifestyle and use a more productive and healthy approach, so I did exactly that and any reader can use my methods as tips to also learn online during this period of staying at home. This is when the highs of online leaning began.
I started by writing up a work schedule for when to work and when to rest. I quickly realized that since it takes roughly 21 days to form a habit, if I adhere to my schedule, I would be able to continue without being hindered by cravings to procrastinate and distract myself. I set up alarms every hour from 8am to 2pm to track my hours so that I know when to do my work and when to stop. By doing this I was likening these times to the bell times at school as we switched between lessons and this proved fruitful.
I started a gym program for hockey to keep myself healthy. I would wake up at seven in the morning to do the program and afterwards, I would then shower, eat and get started with my work. The morning prayers with my family kept me relaxed and optimistic about the day to come and listening to music was very important as instead of ‘plugging and playing’, as gamers would say, I started plugging and writing which made me more productive. I could feel myself being happier and more self-disciplined as I spent less time on social media and more time being proactive. Lastly, I hung up my report from last year that had very pleasing and excellent marks right on my wall opposite my desk. This report served as a reminder of my work ethic and how jovial I felt when I achieved these marks and I didn’t want to let that all come to waste in my final year in high school by procrastinating.
So basically learning under lockdown gives you the opportunity to put into practice self-discipline, which is one of our core values. You get to set up your own work schedule and you can also train your mind to stay optimistic during these uncertain times by really spending time renewing your mind by prayer, meditation or anything that helps you get in touch with you soul and spirit.
I would be lying if I said that it has been effortless to achieve my tasks and that I do not miss school, being a prefect and being surrounded by my peers because this is my final year of high school, but I am also equally glad that was able to be part of this new experience of learning online because I learnt that being self-disciplined and occupied helps lessen the psychological impact this disease and this lockdown period could have on a student.
I hope you have found this message helpful and I wish for you to realize that in the end it will all be okay, so if it isn’t right now, that just means it’s not the end…
Sphesihle A Zondi