By Sandy Wang, Dental Class of 2021
Virtual learning is here to stay. The challenge is how do students optimize this learning experience?
As a fourth-year dental student new to the virtual learning environment, I have learned that issues such as forgetting about a scheduled class or sitting in the comfort of home and becoming distracted have become common troubles for today’s virtual student. To overcome this, I have tried to embrace these key concepts: “now instead of later” and “power of paperless.” These two mindsets are useful as we continue adjusting to virtual learning.
The first concept challenges students to be in a present and active frame of mind. For example, in the virtual classroom, I log in to class with the goal to learn now instead of later. This concept requires discipline because this is much easier said than done. Even before the pandemic, I would sit in classes doing something else thinking whatever was being taught could be learned and reviewed at a later time. Now with virtual classes, this has created an even bigger hurdle for me to concentrate in the moment. It takes focus and willpower to commit to asking questions and taking notes rather than passively listening. When implemented, I have found this concept to be beneficial because time is efficiently used instead of wasted. Especially if a virtual class is mandatory, why not challenge yourself to make the most out of the time you are sitting and listening. If I really can’t focus but need to log in for attendance purposes, I’ll try to do something productive for another class so that my time is still used wisely.
The second concept highlights the power of paperless education. No more carrying physical items such as books, notebooks or planners. No more time spent on physical organization with bookmarks and sticky tabs. With the power of the keys “Ctrl + F” students can locate what they need in a few seconds wherever they are. In clinic, I am finding how useful it is to have my notes synced on my phone from my computer. In any situation, when I need to reference my notes for a procedure, I can pull it up at that very moment. If I am in a long line for groceries to check out and I have an exam tomorrow, I can easily pull up my notes and review at that moment. This also applies to not missing any scheduled classes or meetings. I do not need my planner physically with me. Rather, I utilize some kind of virtual
calendar like Google or Microsoft, to send me notifications or set alarms to go off and remind me to log on.
As a student who loved attending classes in person and physically writing notes, I have come to appreciate virtual learning and its resources despite its challenges.