The Bartlett


Top 5 things I learnt after a year of online learning

By Azmina Gulamhusein

The past 18 months or so, since the pandemic hit, have been unusual to say the least! Everyone has been challenged in one way or another and we’ve all had to adapt to new ways of living and working. I started my MSc degree at UCL in September 2020, and due to the lockdown rules in the UK, experienced all my teaching online. While this was an unfamiliar way to attend lectures and participate in tutorials, I have taken a lot away from the experience. 

Although lockdown restrictions have been lifted, we are now moving to a new normal way of living. After months of working or studying from home, it has been established that we can be just as productive studying and working from home. Hence the concept of hybrid-working and teaching, whether that be in the workplace or in higher education is gaining increasing traction. Therefore, I’ve put together a list of the Top 5 things I’ve learnt from a year of online learning, with tips of how this can be applied to working and studying going forward.

1. Create a separate workspace

Sleeping, living, working, eating in one place can get a bit much and boundaries can get blurred, making one rather unproductive. Therefore, it is important to give yourself a distinct study and workspace. Some people are fortunate enough to have a home office or study, which is ideal, however there are clever ways and design hacks  you can use to create a work-zone within your bedroom. Check out these articles for some top tips for making the most of your home working space!

Students' workspace

2. Staying Motivated

Zoom fatigue is a real thing, and it can be difficult to stay motivated and focused when you are sat in one place all day. I found the best way to stay motivated was to create a routine and keep myself accountable to a to-do list that I create at the start of each day. Taking breaks is also important as you can get into a rut sat in front of a screen for too long. Moreover, it is so easy to suffer from energy slumps when you are not leaving your workspace all day. I personally found taking shorts walks in the fresh air in between tasks really refreshing to clear my mind and get me focused again.

Regent's Canal

3. Make use of the facilities and services available to you

Even though teaching took place online for me, the UCL campus and libraries were open with study spaces available to book. In addition, UCL Explore is an extensive online library with a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. Making sure I made full use of these resources allowed me to make the most of my time studying at UCL and being able to find a quiet spot to study during deadline season really helped me focus!

4. Prioritise your health

Living through a global pandemic and reading about the distress so many people across the world have faced was a reality check for me. I have a strong immune system and am a healthy young adult, however I’ve realised that is not to be taken for granted and that it is important to look after and maintain my good health. Just as important as physical health is mental health. The challenges and changes brought about by this pandemic can be extremely stressful, so it is important to take step back, try not to get overwhelmed by everything and find ways to stay grounded and calm. Meditation and deep breathing are simple yet powerful technique that helps me when I’m feeling overwhelmed. There are various different meditation apps that you can download, for example Calm and Headspace. 


5. Maintaining relationships

Whether this be with your friends, family or lectures staying connected whilst being physically separated from people in your life, makes you understand the value of relationships and interacting face to face. In testing times, when faced with challenges it is so important to come together and support each other as best as we can. Studying through a virtual environment for the past year taught me the importance of maintaining relationships in these testing times.

About the author

Azmina is currently studying Construction Economics and Management MSc at The Bartlett. With a background in architecture, she enjoys exploring the architectural diversity around London. On her weekends, Azmina enjoys a long run or bike ride to take in the sites of London.

Student in the woods