Online Learning During COVID-19

A student is looking at a computer.

By Ashley Emmens

Ashley joined HIEC in the summer of 2020 as a virtual summer student to support the organization’s marketing, communications and public relations. While she was here, Ashley took the time to share her thoughts about online learning, and to share some ideas for how students can make the best of their virtual education. 

Many students are working online this fall, from elementary and highschool students, to college and university students. For most of us, this is a whole new way of learning, and of interacting with educators and fellow students. 

I briefly considered deferring my acceptance to college when I found out my program was going to be offered online. However, upon seeking advice from people working in my industry and professors, I made the decision to go forward with the program. 

One thing that has been consistently emphasized to me by my professors is that educators are much better positioned to provide a smooth and rich learning experience this fall than what we experienced earlier this year. 

Another piece of valuable advice I heard from industry professionals was that participating in online learning will show future employers that I’m not afraid of change, and that I have the flexibility to learn and work differently when required.  

The truth is, adaptability and resilience are some of the most important personal and professional attributes in this new era of work. Yes, the learning may look a little different, but all of our learning goals can still be met. In my opinion, it’s best to embrace this new way of doing things rather than giving in to the instinct to resist change. 

In order to help students make the best of this new reality, I’ve compiled some strategies I’m implementing to help myself learn in this new environment. 


Start your day off right.

Starting your day with meditation is an impactful tool to help you reduce stress and anxiety and to put yourself into a positive and productive mindset. There are many free apps to help guide your meditation, including Insight Timer, Breathe In, and Calm.

Take a 5-minute stretch break every hour. 

Make sure to stand up, walk around and get outside for some fresh air if you can. If you have a Mac, consider downloading Time Out from the app store as a helpful tool to remind you to do this.

Get a good dose of natural sunlight every day.

Natural sunlight boosts mood and sleep quality.Try to work near a window if possible, or if getting natural sunlight is difficult, look into purchasing a daylight lamp.

Remember to stay hydrated. And eat healthily.

Maintaining a balanced, nutritious diet can positively impact your energy levels, focus, and mood. To stay hydrated, keep a water bottle handy at your workstation. In addition, fruits such as grapes and watermelon are also great sources of hydration.

Maintain proper posture.

When sitting, make sure the small of your back is supported and relax your shoulders. Elevate your laptop so that the top of the screen is level with your eye height to reduce strain. And throughout the day, change up your posture often and avoid sitting or standing for too long.

Follow a consistent routine.

We are all aware that we are currently living through “uncertain times.” Following a consistent routine can help alleviate the anxiety that can stem from a lack of structure. Incorporate good daily habits, such as exercise, into your routine and focus on the things you do have control over.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. 

There is bound to be a learning curve while you are adjusting to this new way of doing things, so cut yourself some slack! Set aside time each day for self-care and/or to do something you enjoy.

Check out resources at HIEC, especially the Virtual Career Lab.

HIEC’s Virtual Career Lab is designed to support educators, parents, and students participating in Ontario’s at-home learning program by starting and keeping career conversations going. It is a great way to enhance your at-home program with fun ideas that can be shared in the community. 

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