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Learning to Learn Online

Practical guidelines to being an online student

Many students started 2020 with the nervous excitement of finding their way around a new campus, making new friends and getting to know and be part of campus life.

As a lecturer, I know I start every year hugely excited for the energy and vibe that campus life brings.

Unfortunately, 2020 had its own plans and many students and lecturers are now finding themselves doing online classes and distance learning. It’s not what we planned, but one thing we learn in the media industry is that most things don’t go according to plan and rolling with the punches is a way of life.

Being an online student may not be what you signed up for but you can certainly make the most of it and finish the year strong and as a champ.

Here are some practical guidelines to help you make the most of online learning.

  • Shop around for the best data packages

South African data providers have come to the party to help students out in many ways so shop around for the best data packages you can find. Many colleges and universities have been able to secure deals with these providers too, so make the most of it and ensure you have the best package to suit you and your study needs.

Click to find out more about the BMH MTN Student Data Deal.

BMH MTN Data Deal 2020









  • Get up and get dressed for class

Avoid the urge to spend the day in your PJ’s and slippers. You have to get your mind and body ready for a day of learning. Get cleaned up, get dressed and get in the proper mind-set to learn.

  • Have a dedicated place of study

This may be hard when you are sharing homes and rooms with everyone else who is home during lockdown but you need a quiet, distraction-free zone that is yours. Perhaps you can work out a schedule that allows you to rotate rooms or spaces and there may need to be some serious negotiation for quiet time, but remind the fam how important your studies are and how much you need their support.

  • Follow a class schedule and learning routine

There is nothing random about online learning. Set your day plan according to what your normal class schedules would be and stick to it. Do not allow yourself to get distracted and make sure every day counts.

  • Take a break

Rest and exercise are very important. Set aside time each day to go and sit in the sun, read a book, watch your favourite TV shows, go for a walk or do some high intensity exercise. Your mind needs a break so it can process what you have learnt. Make your break time a reward for the hard work you have put in.

  • Enjoy your weekends

If you work hard during the week and get everything done that you need to, then you can relax and enjoy weekends that are study and assignment free. There is nothing worse than the little voice in your head reminding you of everything you need to do when you are trying to chill! If you plan your week properly and reach your goals, then you can really enjoy guilt-free down time.

  • Stay mentally strong

This is easier said than done, so you are really going to have to work hard on having a positive mental attitude. Try to focus on what you have, and not what you don’t have. Reach out to the people who form part of your support structure and lean on them. But also, be there for your friends and family and try to be a positive influence on those around you as well. Start your day with a smile and keep the end goal in mind.

Stay mentally strong









The world is a tough place to live in at the moment and there is no doubt that uncertainty is part of normal, everyday life.  Focus on the things that you have control over and make sure you can proudly say that you did your very best whilst studying online during Covid-19.

And lastly, when times get tough for me, I rely on the words of Muhammad Ali, “Don’t quit, suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”


*Claire Jackson-Bernardo has been a Public Relations lecturer for 11 years and is MD of Alerting the Media, a Public Relations consultancy started in 2006. She has over 25 years of media and communications experience in South Africa and has a passion for educating the PR professionals of the future.

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