The German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) has been conducting online classes for all students in the past weeks. Online learning requires a lot of self-motivation from students while on the other hand students seem to be more flexible. Studying and learning within the online environment and at home is entirely different from studying at the university within tight time-frames, social networks and face-to-face interactions with professors and lecturers. While studying online, study plans may be changed or missed out easily. In addition, studying remotely can make it difficult to balance studies, personal and family life. Therefore, it is important to make a plan and schedule the study-time on a daily basis.
GUtech professors and administrative employees advise on how to manage the time and studies and in effective ways. Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences, highlights that a continuous daily learning routine is very important. “I record all classes two hours in advance and make them available exactly at the starting time of a class. My greatest concern is that students will come to the conclusion: ‘Everything is recorded, no problem to catch up later.’ The amount of work will suddenly increase by the end of the current restrictions. Many will find out that there is not sufficient time to catch up.”
Prof. Dr. Osman Barghouth, Head of the Department of Logistics and Tourism said students and professors should communicate continuously. “Students must maintain their enthusiasm during those days and continue their lessons and activities on a daily basis in order to avoid accumulating lessons at the end of the academic year. On the other hand, instructors should find effective ways to communicate with students, track their performances, and engage them in how to organize their online learning. Only through interactive learning that ensures and stimulates student participation and interaction, distance-learning will succeed in achieving its goals.” Dr. Yathrib Ajaj, Senior Chemistry Lecture at the Department of Mathematics and Sciences said that she engages the students. “I train students to be leaders. Currently four students support my teaching and communicate with the other students. Each week I speak to these students and give them the schedule ahead. They then help the other students to understand the course material. I always give them some assignments during the lecture.”
GUtech’s Head of IT Service Department, Jiji Varghese has some general tips for studying at home. These include studying within a healthy environment with a lot of light and fresh air. Regular exercise, social contacts online and regular breaks are also important. “Make your workplace bright, get some sunlight through your windows. Try to get as well some exercise, mediation, yoga or just laugh every day. Make time for chatting and taking breaks, watching positive, funny videos” he said while adding: “Avoid watching too many news about the Corona pandemic.”
GUtech students speak about their study experiences and how they manage their time during social distancing and online classes these days.
Sadiyah Manidhar, an 8th semester student in Process Engineering is currently working on her final thesis. She said: “I recommend to stick to the normal routine, especially with sleep so that I do not have trouble attending or missing out any online classes. What also works for me, is making reminders and a to-do-list for fun and work activities so that there is a balance and I feel engaged and not pressurized to do something. Apart from that, it is important to have a good organization of my studies. I am currently using mind-maps for my thesis. To-do-lists and personal reminders also help me not to rush into my deadlines and not worry about too much stuff,” she said.
Rayyan Al Ajmi, a 3rd year student in Process Engineering said that she has developed a study routine. She usually wakes up early in the morning. “I watch the uploaded lectures and take notes. I have specified each day for a certain course. That day, I try to focus on watching the lectures, solve tutorials and study a little bit of that course. Later on, I do some exercises and then I practice my hobbies like playing piano, cooking and I do some art like painting canvases. Quarantine really made me figure out the things that I can master, without leaving my studies and I somehow consider this as an achievement.” Rayyan also stays in contact with her friends, while talking to her friends online and discussing assignments and solving them together and sometimes playing online games together, makes my quarantine easier as we cannot see each other, but we are still in contact.”