Besides lecturers, students also have to adapt to the “new way of learning”. Now we will try to look at online learning through the eyes of students.

We interviewed 2 of our DAAD Scholarship holders, who are currently pursuing their Masters degrees in Germany:

  • Habibul Abrar, who is currently studying for a Masters in Public Policy (MPP) at Willy Brandt School of Public Policy at the University of Erfurt and is an awardee of DAAD-ACEH Scholarship of Excellence.
  • Amalia Dwiandani who is currently studying Hydro Science and Engineering at Technische Universität Dresden and is a DAAD EPOS scholarship holder.

Habibul Abrar and Amalia Dwiandani share their thoughts about online learning and give some tips that might help other students to get the best out of online learning. Here are our interviews with them.

How has online learning been conducted in your university during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Habibul Abrar (HA): Online learning was conducted rather well in my university. The university already had an existing communication platform called moodle for professors and students where professors can upload material. Moodle is a key reason for the success of online learning this semester.

The university has also provided conference platforms to conduct the classes. Our university uses Webex, some universities use Zoom, some Microsoft Teams. However, the effectiveness of these conference platforms heavily depends on the professors. Some professors are up to the challenge and are quickly able to master the functions and perks provided by the applications. Some need time to even operate the applications, these ones can often be quite funny. Some even chose not to use the applications and record themselves giving lectures instead.

Overall, the experience has been an interesting and unique one.

Amalia Dwiandani (AD): Well it’s quite challenging I must say. At my uni, TU Dresden, all my professors have really dedicated themselves to providing online learning, well we started quite late about 3 weeks off schedule because of the pandemic but now everything seems to be going well; unfortunately, we have to participate at university via online learning next semester.

In your opinion, as a student, what are the opportunities and challenges of online learning?
HA: Challenges: boredom from not meeting with many people; being motivated to join the online classes that are basically still in your bedroom; stores being closed which means losing side jobs.

Opportunities: very flexible time schedule, as in there is no need to get up very early to get ready to go to classes; recorded classes; opportunities to find time for praying. This needs a background story. It is commonly known that sometimes professors chose to conduct the classes in a “block seminar” manner. Basically, there are no weekly classes for the course, the classes are held according to the schedule of the professors. Oftentimes, classes can clash with praying time. This can be challenging for Muslims, especially male Muslims. We have to go to pray in the mosque on Friday afternoon. With online classes, we can just join classes on our phone while going to the mosque.

AD: I think this online learning has both pros and cons. For myself, I found it way more comfortable and I feel like it’s easy to put myself in a focused mode this way rather than attending the class directly. Some of the students feel relaxed because they don’t have to wake up early to prepare stuff for university.

The cons are, I have some subjects that require practical skill and we can’t do it this semester so it’s quite hard for us to catch up with the lectures. Sometimes the challenges can be from outside, having a bad internet connection for example and from the inside, we might be too comfortable with the situation, because lately, I have seen that less and less students attend the online classes.

Do you have any tips for fellow students on how to learn online effectively?
HA: One of the best tips would be to write down and organize your schedule, be it on paper, or devices. There can be some days where you might forget that you have a class because you are always in your house. It is also very important to always have a clean and organized room, especially your table. This can surely boost your motivation to really join your class instead of just listening from your bed. Visiting your friends and classmates in their houses, or even joining classes together can also be very good for mental health. It can get really lonely most of the time and joining classes together will surely help you stay awake.

AD: Please turn off your phone during the class and hide it somewhere. Make sure your room is comfortable. The last thing is good time management; commit yourself to stick with your study schedule.