Are you in high school, college or working from home? Do you sometimes have the feeling you are wasting your time, you are bored, and you lack focus during virtual meetings? Would you rather take your courses in a classroom? Do you already feel a lack of enthusiasm before connecting?
Then, this article is for you. It will give you insights and keys to better cope with online fora.
1. BEFORE THE VIRTUAL MEETING TAKES PLACE
As you would do it for any courses or meetings, it is important for you to prepare for an online conference ahead of time. You will feel more serene, motivated and you will enjoy better your day. Some items are obviously different from standard classes and need to be considered. Please find below my recommendations:
Adjust your lifestyle
I encourage you to keep good lifestyle standards, even though you stay at home all day. Indeed, the baseline of a healthy and happy person is to have a good night sleep, wake up early enough every day, exercise, take a nice shower, and eat a good meal. This is also the case when you work from home! Get dressed and pretend you are about to go outside to join your team. You will feel much lighter and happier to connect.
Boost your motivation
Whatever it is, home office or digital training, you will stand in front of a computer screen for hours. We are all aware of the debates when it comes to screens and their consequences on our brain. Some professionals claim it takes 25% more time to read an article on a computer screen than on a newspaper. It might discourage you. Nevertheless, there are ways you can begin your virtual day in good shape:
- Mental coach yourself before you start your day: practice meditation or heart coherence exercises. Your mental will become calmer and more focused.
- Do something you really enjoy before you start: read a book you love, walk bare feet in your garden, practice yoga, enjoy a nice landscape, music, or tea… You will be in a good mood and feel energized.
- Read your course or assignment before connecting and write down questions or comments you might have. You will naturally listen better, get involved and participate actively.
- Find yourself a peace and quiet place to be for the day: open the windows, tidy it up, make it comfortable. Turn it into a joyful moment in a cosy place!
- Get rid of your smartphone for the day. Your brain cannot cope with several things at the same time. Indeed, you will pay little attention and weaken your memory.
Get to know your learning styles and respect them
Each of us has a personal way to learn. This is essential you acknowledge, understand, and get familiar with your own learning styles. Neurosciences tell us we have more than one learning styles. They claim we use all our senses to catch and memorise information. From my opinion, I would add that most of us have one or two main learning styles.
I like the VAK model (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic). It is simple and shed the light on each learning style profile. Please take a look at the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0onG1OUTUWk
Please find here a picture you will find in the above-mentioned video. It summarizes each learning style:
Source: Analisa McMillan VAK Learning styles
If you are visual, you will better learn out of visual documents, such as videos, slides with animations, pictures, colours, drawings, sketching, highlighted, underlined, or encircled words or sentences. It will stimulate the memory part of your brain better.
If you are auditory, it will be easier for you to pay attention to a person giving a lecture, hear some sounds, music, spell words, record a speech and listen to it, explain to someone what you just learned, use metaphors, or story tell the course.
If you are kinesthetic, you will need to use emotions or projections to be able to embed information in your brain. You will need to touch, experiment, run real cases or serious games, move your hands, walk, play with your pen, play it like in theatre…
Some people write the complete meeting down on paper, some listen carefully, some watch every detail, some need to read the notes and sort them out in their head. Some need to experience practical cases, some will ask questions to others and repeat what has been said. The main lesson here is to know how you learn best and make sure to respect it! All teachers are aware of it and try to prepare courses that will suit all learning styles.
2. DURING THE ONLINE MEETING
You are now all fit, motivated, and calm enough to connect with pleasure to your online class. Let us talk about some tips which will help you to become more effective, benefit the most out of the day and develop your skills:
Humanise your online course
Pretend that you are here and now with people in a room! You have been doing so during the preparation time. You have been dressing up, you have turned your camera on, you stand still, and you know everybody can see you. Act as if you were with all of them and say “hello”, ask how they are doing, answer questions, throw some jokes, make connections! You will feel included in the group, you will be able to develop your network and you will feel more focused. We are all humans. Despite the distance, it is vital to keep in touch and get genuine and authentic contacts with fellows. Many coaches included me, coach people via videoconference. It is no setback to intimacy and involvement. Do not hesitate to ask your teacher/trainer to humanise the class. He/she can organise rounds the table, exercises, games in smaller groups and encourage interaction.
Tips to foster concentration
It is not easy to keep watching a screen for hours and stay focused. Some professionals recommend splitting an onsite training day into 1h30 to 3h portions when the training is online. Otherwise, people lack focus and learn poorly.
Let us avoid this situation and use some tricks:
- Keep in mind people see you on the screen. Keep your camera on so that it stimulates your participation. Do not read your emails or SMS.
- Contribute, ask questions, give your opinion, and ask others’, dare to request clarifications.
- Take notes and summarize what you hear.
- Listen to yourself. You are not a robot, you need several breaks, get some fresh air, walk a few minutes, and run some relaxation exercises. If you can, apply the pomodoro technique timer. It is supposed to improve efficiency. It consists on taking 5 minutes breaks every 25 minutes.
- Make sure you will not be disturbed or interrupted by anyone at home, all along the course.
3. AFTER THE ONLINE MEETING
What have I learned?
Now the online training is over, how are you going to make sure you have grabbed what has been presented?
Take a look at the following pyramid:
Source: Learning Pyramid developed by National Training Laboratories
Globally speaking, students learn less in a lecture where concepts and theories are explained, and where there are very few interactions.
Let us use the rest of the pyramid to capture better what we have learned online:
- Audio / Visual: take advantage of videos you can find on the internet to visualize and capture the main takeaways of the lesson you just had.
- Demonstration: ask someone familiar with the topic to show you or tell you how he would teach it.
- Discussion group: most trainings include intersession chat fora, where participants can discuss whenever they want. Some documents drives are also available to share and store related materials. Even if you are not too fond of chatting, you may read what others post. You may discover new ways of seeing the concepts or tools and reflections that will make you improve. If you enjoy chatting then good for you, you can share your thoughts, ask for others, and enrich from them.
- Practice by doing: isn’t practicing again and again one of the best ways to learn? Do not hesitate to train outside class hours, alone or in group!
- Teaching others: does it surprise you that students’ capture rate reaches 90% when we teach others what we have learned? I have recently used this technique to make nurses in hospitals understand how to make students remember best the care gestures to administer patients. Just one sentence was required: “tell me what to do and I will do it!”. Basically, the experienced nurse would administer medical gestures the student tells him/her to do. The student would watch what the nurse does and adjust his guidelines accordingly. He/she gets aware alone of the mistakes to avoid, what he/she masters and where he/she should get better. Do not be shy and dare to do the same. Teach others even though you are not perfect. Of course, you will do mistakes but then you will improve much faster in a natural and effortless manner.
How do you feel now the article comes to an end? Are you ready to enjoy your online courses now?
I wish you lots of happy moments online. And do not forget: “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” Aristotle.
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