How to make online learning bearable for both students and lecturers

By Lucy Kung'u & Lydia Winda

The Coronavirus pandemic has been experienced around the world for more than a year and has had a major effect on economies of countries, families, people’s health ranging from physical to mental among other effects. Several countries put various measures in place to avert the spread of the novel virus among them; lockdown, wearing of masks, washing of hands or sanitizing, banned or controlled social gatherings, social distancing among other measures.

Online learning has become one of the new normal situations that students have had to adjust to during this period in the bid to mitigate the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus worldwide. This has been a big challenge to the learning process. Additionally, studies show that mental health related issues among them but not limited to; anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, prolonged loss and grief related issues, alcohol and substance abuse and acute stress disorder are on the rise given the already frail mental health status of many people. Besides mental health related issues, there are also other challenges like; technology, internet connectivity and family related issues among others.

What to do as a student

  • For a good plan of different activities in your life, plan and manage your time well, self- control/discipline is very critical.
  • To actively participate and be engaged in online learning, interact with the topic for the week by reading before class. This will also help with focus and motivation for your class.
  • Ensure you have done all the assignments before class begins.
  • Attitude towards learning is a strong driver for academic achievement. If you have any reservations about online classes, discuss and clear them for you to exude positive attitude towards online learning.

To avoid feeling isolated and disconnected during online courses, you can:

  • Reach out to your friends, classmates and family members.
  • Offer support to especially those;
    • Who have pre-existing mental health conditions;
    • Who have experienced any form of loss during this period i.e. loss of a loved one, job, business, break up and any other form of loss;
    • Who have been affected directly by the pandemic;
    • Classmates who used to be active in class then stopped being active;
    • Who miss classes;
    • Who post suggestive posts on their social media accounts;
    • Who used to be active in group work, but stopped.
  • Be a good friend to someone by being accountability partners.
  • Inform the lecturer with the student’s permission if it is an issue that requires a lecturer’s support.
  • Refer your friends who need counseling to the university’s Counseling Department.

As a lecturer for effective online learning, take note of the changing roles occasioned by online learning that require adaptation:

  • Start class sessions by checking up on your students.
  • Follow up on those who miss classes either directly or through their class representative or friends in class.
  • Notice any changes or struggles exhibited by students in class.
  • Try and balance rigor and support.
  • Apply attention attraction strategies for students to focus on learning
  • Use language(s) that make the students hopeful of coming back to class e.g. when we go back to physical learning.
  • Create time to talk about the pandemic, the student’s fears and what they are struggling with in relation to the pandemic.
  • Assure your students that you are there for them just in case they need to talk to you.
  • Encourage them to form a class WhatsApp group where they can keep in touch as a class.
  • Integrate multimedia (video, audio, text discussion, graphics etc.) that will make class sessions engaging and interesting to you and learners.
  • Be learner centered in your approach.
  • Refer for counseling those who present with issues that require counseling based on your assessment.

It is important to be cognizant that times are tough for everyone including the lecturers. Both students and lecturers should try their best to make class sessions manageable for both parties that way, you make online class sessions bearable. Online classes are tough, may involve a heavy workload, technology issues, and changing student–teacher interactions but doable with the support and collaboration of both students and lecturers.

Feel free to contact the Counseling Center through or 0730116748/750/797 for psychosocial support.


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