No courses on campus, no office hours with faculty members, no face-to-face conversations with fellow students during breaks, no lunch at the dining hall or cafeteria, no time spent learning at the library, no sports courses on campus, no trips on overcrowded public transport. Many things that make up student life and offer a certain structure in our everyday life are not possible at the moment. Still, your studies continue! But how can that work considering the current circumstances?
The digital semester will be a new experience with many challenges for most of you. The team of the project “One University for Everyone – Organizing Inclusive University Studies” wants to support you while you try to cope with these challenges. Our knowledge base will provide you with practical information, inspiring impulses and specific exercises on different topics in relation to digital studies.
We hope you have fun reading and trying things out!
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To be a successful student, you will need to make plans for each semester and organize your day-to-day life accordingly. To ensure that your studies progress according to plan under these changed circumstances, diligent planning has become more important than ever. You will have to adapt the study routine and learning strategies you used so far due to the shift to digital course and learning formats. Not being able to go to campus and participate in courses on site also means...
In order to cope with all these changes and to not lose sight of the requirements that come with them, it makes sense to analyze your individual situation in detail and to take a closer look at the current semester. Remember to not only consider the duties associated with studying, but also areas such as providing for yourself, family and social life, household and free time. Think about the goals you are pursuing in these areas.
You can find instructions for the analysis of your current situation here (currently only available in German).
Set dates for the requirements that you have identified and add them to your calendar. For you planning, it is advisable to consider different dimensions of time and, if necessary, to create several schedules. Planning on a scale that becomes increasingly smaller can ease the pressure of always having an eye on the “big picture” and will provide you with the necessary structure to help you reach your goals.
The following planning dimensions could be used by students:
Check your planning at regular intervals. Weekly schedules are based on the semester schedule, while daily schedules depend on the weekly schedule. Adjust your schedule for the larger time frames if you realize that you need more or less time for the individual tasks or if your goals and priorities have changed.
Please consider the following information when planning and organizing your learning, work and everyday life during the digital semester:
The digital semester has begun. It is now even more important than in the semesters taking place on site to acquire new knowledge independently and to create a structured study routine in the current situation. For this to succeed, it is necessary to give serious thought to specific short-, medium- and long-term goals! Goals are what guide our actions, structure our lives and, last but not least, provide motivation. Whether it is about “finally finishing that chapter” or “learning for the exam” – goals are omnipresent, but often also quite vague and disorganized. First of all, you can ask yourself these questions:
Our materials are designed to help you formulate goals realistically and with an eye on your resources, and to prioritize the many tasks that await you during the semester.
Since university locations for studying and working are currently not accessible or only accessible to a limited extent, you will study mainly from home in the current semester. On the one hand, this can have a positive effect on your daily study routine, because you save time spent for commuting and might feel less pressed for time. On the other hand, you lack the variety and exercise that is automatically provided by going to university and switching between rooms and campuses.
Depending on what and how you study, you are more or less used to doing study tasks at home. In the current situation, you will now also need to attend your courses while at home. This brings your university and private life closer together in ways that are unfamiliar. In addition, many recreational activities currently have to take place at home. There is a considerable danger that the different areas of life – studies, private life and leisure time – will become strongly intertwined or that one area will overpower the others because the mental or spatial delimitation is not successful.
You should therefore consider the following with regard to your living situation:
Depending on the housing situation, it is not always possible to clearly separate the different areas of life from one another. In many cases there is no separate home office or desk available and the PC/laptop is used by several people.
In that case it is necessary ...
By consciously organizing your workspace and learning environment, you can make a significant contribution to ensuring that you can get through the digital semester in a comfortable and motivated manner and achieve your semester goals from home.
In order to feel connected to the university in times of social distancing and to feel a sense of belonging to your own field of study, it is important to maintain contact with fellow students, teaching staff and university institutions:
The digital semester is, to a certain extent, uncharted territory for all of us. Technical, organizational and interpersonal challenges have to be mastered and require different behavior than usual. In the next few weeks you will gain more and more experience in studying via the internet. This can sometimes be exhausting and stressful, but also exciting and rewarding. In order for you to experience the current semester in a positive way and make good use of it, it is important for you to identify the personal challenges you are currently facing and to know what resources you have at your disposal to meet these challenges.
The current situation has not only changed the conditions of university studies, but also has an impact on many other areas of life. The effects of the pandemic on your life can in turn influence your daily study routine. Ask yourself these questions:
In situations when all these new things and the many changes seem to be too much for you, the following thoughts might be helpful:
When it comes to your routine as a student, the unfamiliar course formats as well as communication with faculty members and fellow students can be particularly challenging. For this reason, we have compiled a few tips for dealing with online course formats with fixed or flexible dates/times and for digital group work. You can find additional tips for digital learning at: Digital Learning.
If you notice an increased tendency in yourself to postpone tasks during the digital semester, the following exercise might be helpful: Exercise “Get started, don’t procrastinate” (currently only available in German).
In challenging or overwhelming situations, people quickly start to feel small, powerless and incapable. Many then tend to see only what they don’t have or supposedly cannot do – the glass seems half-empty. If this outlook is adopted permanently, it leads to stagnation.
To successfully master challenging or overwhelming situations, it makes more sense to focus on what we have and can do. It is important to recognize that you have a wealth of different resources at your disposal and to make use of them.
If you want to take a closer look at your personal resources, the following exercise can help: Exercise “Finding Resources” (currently only available in German).
If you want to activate your resources for an upcoming task or current challenge, you can use the following exercise: Exercise “Activating Resources” (currently only available in German).
To get you through the digital semester with motivation and to enable you to work on your study goals with concentration, it is important that you take good care of yourself. Recharge your batteries by including regular periods of relaxation in your daily and weekly planning. Keep yourself motivated by giving yourself a small reward for completed study tasks.
On days where you have a lot to do for university and the tasks to be done do not offer much variety, it is particularly important to take small relaxing breaks in between. If, for example, after reading a text or actively participating in a webinar, your mind is buzzing with new information, take a 5-10 minute break! During these short breaks it is best to do something completely different – watering flowers, drinking tea or a relaxation exercise. That way, you can get a break from what you have just experienced and then work on the next task with concentration.
Come up with short activating or relaxing activities that you can do in a 5-10 minute break! Exercise “What to do on a break” (currently only available in German)
For short periods of relaxation in between, you can also sign up for the “Studi-Pausenexpress” of the University Athletic Department: Studi-Pausenexpress.
Just as important as the smaller breaks are longer relaxation phases, for example after a strenuous week or a day spent studying intensely. These downtimes are important to regain your strength. You should therefore stop working on your studies at least 1-2 hours before going to bed and instead, take care of your own well-being. Treat yourself – if possible – to work-free weekends or at least several hours of relaxation to start the new week refreshed and energized. What you do in these free periods depends on what you find relaxing. Reading, sports, handicraft, cooking, hiking – there are many possibilities.
Make a list of things you currently prefer to do in your spare time or would like to do in the future in order to relax and escape from the daily routine of studying! Exercise “What to do in your free time” (currently only available in German)
Some ideas for self-care activities can be found here: Ideas for self-care (currently only available in German).
In addition to breaks and leisure time, good and sufficient sleep is crucial for your ability to perform and concentrate. Here are some tips for healthy sleep: Tips for healthy sleep (currently only available in German).
It is not always possible to be completely relaxed under the current circumstances. You might feel a lot of pressure because some things don't work out as planned or as you would like them to.
You can deliberately include rewards in your everyday life to help with motivation. It works best for short-term goals like reading a text or writing a specific number of pages. The reward and the task should be proportionate, e.g. after a two-hour work phase in which you have reviewed a textbook chapter, reward yourself with your favorite hot beverage in a break of about 15 minutes.
Not every task in your daily or weekly plan needs to be followed by a reward. Instead, use rewards in a targeted manner for tasks that require a lot of self-discipline from you and for which you need additional motivation.
When planning your day or week, consider the tasks that would be easier for you if they came with a little reward: Exercise “Rewards” (currently only available in German).
The coronavirus pandemic has a lasting effect on students’ routines and ways of life: the semester abroad is canceled, practical school training or laboratory courses are not taking place as planned, there is uncertainty about financing aspects, and the ongoing social distancing puts a damper on everyone’s spirits. Plans for the future that have gotten all mixed up, the many rapid changes in a short period of time and the danger of infection can be perceived as very stressful and trigger feelings of loss of control, stress and anxiety. Not knowing when things will go back to normal is also difficult to bear.
In the long run, such stress can lead to changes on the following levels:
If you notice such changes in yourself and realize that they cause you suffering, you can, first of all, do the following: