What is it like to learn remotely?
Arushee Kadam, first year Materials student studying in Hong Kong
I’m Arushee, I’m a first year Materials student, and I’m currently living in Hong Kong.
I usually start my day by going for a short walk. There aren’t many people out early in the morning, so it’s a nice way to get some time for myself and get some fresh air; not to mention that Hong Kong looks really beautiful in the morning!
I have breakfast with my brother before he heads off to school, then make myself a cup of coffee and get down to work. Due to the time difference (7 hours ahead of BST), I usually have quite a few emails and notifications pile up the night before, so the first thing I do is reply to emails and find out what pre-lecture videos or handouts I need to go through.
While studying, I tend to start losing my focus if I work for too long at a stretch, so I like to study for an hour, then take twenty minutes to get a snack (or more coffee) and read for a bit, before getting back to work. With all remote assessments currently being open-book, I’m mostly focusing on doing problem sheets and going through discussion questions.
I work till afternoon, then have a late lunch with my brother when he gets back from school, and watch an episode of Star Trek to relax. I usually spend an hour either finishing off some problem sheets or catching up with friends, before my lectures start. After a couple of months, I’ve finally gotten used to having lectures in the evening instead of the morning!
With the current situation, some of our lecture courses are following the flipped learning system, where we go through the content ourselves beforehand, and then discuss questions with our classmates, the GTA, and the lecturer during class time. I’ve found that a perk of having our lectures via a Teams call is that we can drop any questions we have into the chat box, rather than waiting till the end of the lecture to get them answered.
After dinner, I sometimes have a lab. If there isn’t a lab on that day, my friends and I usually get on a Teams call and work through the lab analysis and discussion together. I’ve discovered that I’m actually working with my classmates a lot more now than I was before the COVID-19 situation, and I’m hoping that it’s something that will continue.
I try to stop working about an hour before I sleep. I take some time to relax, have a cup of tea, talk to old friends, or even do some night-time baking, before I go to sleep.
Jingxuan Zhou, fourth year Materials student studying in China
Hi, everyone! I am Jingxuan from Imperial and currently studying remotely in Asia for my MEng degree in materials science and engineering. It has been almost two months since I studied from home. Things are so different as many are being done ‘virtually’ rather than ‘physically’. I would love to say that Imperial has provided many helpful supports for us to adopt this way of studying.
As a fourth-year student in the summer term, I do not have any new lectures but exams and research project. Every weekday, I start my revision by clicking Panopto. It has been a highlight feature of Imperial for years – Panopto is a system that allows me to watch the recording of all the lectures at any time and speed I want. Rather than being in the library, my friends and I skype with each other to discuss any problems we encounter in revision.
In the afternoon, I usually play games with friends or do some exercise. Back in the days, I would give a hand in the restoration of Austin MINI Mark I in Imperial Motor Club with our club members. Right now, in-home, I play racing simulator with them online. Yes, although we live in different time zone and we still wake and meet up ‘virtually’. Exercise is a must for me. After the gaming, I would grab my heavy computer and imagine doing deadlift in my room. Just kidding, I work out with dumbbells.
Before the exams, the revision sessions are done via Microsoft Teams this year. This software is very efficient in scheduling tasks and communicating among different groups (It is lovely to see our professors and lecturers doing live streaming). Also, it is convenient to ask them questions via Team, making the revision session helpful to everyone. I did every revision session at 9 pm as there is a time difference between the UK and China. I want to mention that it was great that I did not have any exams arranged in the midnight. For my research project, I want to thank my personal tutor and project supervisors to support my thesis writing remotely: so much support and love from them.
Remote study or life was a challenge when I first came to it because everything is being done ‘virtually’. But thanks to Imperial and my friends, I have finished lots of learning tasks and adapted to remote study.