A day in the life of an educator is chaotic, time-poor and exhausting. Between online classes, student-teacher 1:1s, parent-teacher conferences, teacher appraisals and faculty/staff meetings, there never seems to be enough time in the day.
Unfortunately, time management is far more difficult now versus pre-pandemic. The findings from Doodle’s “Time Management in Education” study support this, with over a third of the surveyed college students (37 percent) saying it has been harder to manage their time and stay productive now that lectures have moved online. This is a serious issue, as a majority of students (66 percent) say that time management is extremely important in regards to their ability to meet their academic goals.
On top of this, nearly half of students (42 percent) say that they’re working more now that classes have gone virtual. And they’re very concerned about the long-term impact on their academic success, with 71 percent of students saying that they’re either extremely worried, or somewhat worried, that the shift to online-only education will negatively impact their academic success.
On the surface, these stats might seem like they paint an abysmal outlook for the future of education in a COVID-19 world. But I think there’s a way to right the ship and technology will play a huge role in doing so. This is a great opportunity for academic institutions to change their processes and implement new technologies. It’s not about stripping away all existing processes and systems that have been in place for decades. Rather, it’s about making small, impactful changes. It’s also about implementing the right technology solutions to facilitate the kinds of change that will allow academic institutions to deliver the best experience possible to students, faculty members and administrative staff, while helping them to be highly productive, focused and successful in achieving their goals.
For students who are already digital natives and accustomed to using upwards of 15 digital tools/apps daily, technology can be tremendously useful in cutting down on administrative tasks like coordinating office hours with their professors, 1:1 guidance sessions with faculty advisors and group study sessions with classmates. That’s time that can be refocused and reinvested into studying, writing papers and devising their graduation strategy.
Not only does technology make learning more flexible and convenient as 55 percent of the surveyed students reported in the Doodle study, but it also creates a more engaged and collaborative environment. For example, 16 percent of students say they value how technology makes it easier to collaborate with classmates and 13 percent see it as being useful in increasing access to their professors and faculty members.
Now consider introverted students who may have once shied away from speaking up in front of their classmates. They can be more active participants in their online classes in the safety of their homes and with the option to turn off their camera to reduce their anxiety and shyness of being ‘seen’ while participating. It takes some of the pressure off, allowing them to focus on learning and excelling in their classes.
Technology can also add efficiencies for busy educators by cutting down on context-switching. For example, using a scheduling tool that is integrated with video conferencing software like Zoom will eliminate the need to toggle back and forth between both solutions. It can also address the all-too-common problem of forgetting to create, copy and paste a Zoom link into each calendar invite. If it’s integrated into your scheduling tool, then the Zoom link is automatically populated and added into each calendar invite. That’s less tedious work for educators and more time spent on guiding students to academic success and achieving their own goals.
To help, I have outlined some useful tips for professors, faculty, administrative staff and students.
Tips for teachers/professors, faculty and administrative staff:
- Use a communication platform, like Slack, to interact and pass essential messages on to students, fellow professors, faculty members and administrative staff. Answering questions in a way that all can see means you won’t be asked the deadline for that paper 40 times. Having an open, real-time communication link between students and professors means more questions are likely to be answered online, rather than during lengthy one-to-one meetings, while students get answers when they need them.
- Schedule one-to-ones with individual students whom you teach or advise. Use this time to gauge how they’re feeling. Don’t talk about the class curriculum, their grades or academic performance. Focus on their emotional wellbeing.
- Set up group meetings with your department heads and administrative staff to understand how everyone’s workload is being affected. Does anyone have concerns? Are everyone’s needs being met? Does everyone have the necessary resources and tools to be effective educators? Asking these questions is critical to empowering your faculty and staff to do their jobs well and support your students.
- Record key sessions so students can revisit them when studying for exams, catch up on them if they missed a lecture and even use the recordings for future study groups.
Tips for students:
- Slice and dice projects into smaller, manageable chunks.
- Focus on one task at a time. Don’t switch back and forth between assignments. Only move to a new task once a single task has been completed.
- Automate administrative tasks, like scheduling study sessions and office hours with professors, so time can be better spent on engaging in class, studying and getting feedback from professors.
- Pay attention to your productivity flows and energy levels. When your productivity is highest, use that time to focus on a larger, high-priority assignment.
- Use time blocking to make yourself unavailable for meetings, activities or anything else and dedicate that time to important tasks/projects. So if anyone tries to book time in your calendar, it will appear as unavailable.
- Set up assignment/project deadlines in your calendar so your grades don’t suffer simply because you forgot a deadline.