Help, we are studying from home
There is a pandemic, and campus is closed. You have been ordered to stay at home, while studying has moved into the internet.
How is this going to end? We ask psychologist Knut Inge Fostervold for advice on how to work from home in a time of crisis.
- The biggest challenge is that many students do not have the proper facilities for working from home. Perhaps they do not have a place where they can work in peace and quiet, said Fostervold, an Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology at UiO, and an expert in the field.
He is not thrilled about the situation the students are now finding themselves in, but an extraordinary situation demands extraordinary efforts from students as indeed the rest of society.
Live as normally as possible
Tabloids are bursting with advice to Norwegian families about how to stay in shape, avoid divorce and keep children active. But what about the students?
Fostervold holds that structure has a lot to say for the success of studying from home. Pivotal: is the teaching done in real time and at fixed hours, or is there a pre-produced content and the students themselves decide the pace and what to do when?
- If the student decides, it becomes very easy to postpone. When you do not have a fixed schedule, everything is more demanding. Some of the most important things a student can do is to maintain everyday routines, not to let go of them. Otherwise it's a slippery slope, said Fostervold.
Mummy on Skype
The main mitigation strategy of the Norwegian health authorities is for everyone to keep their distance. Stay at home. No parties or anything sociable. It's an ordeal for most people.
- A problem for some right now is that you really feel the isolation and not having as much contact with other people as you normally do. It can be difficult, especially for those who already are a bit isolated with limited social networks, said Fostervold.
He emphasises the importance of maintaining contact with others.
- Make use of digital channels. Whether it is your mum in Northern Norway or fellow students in Oslo. Social input is very important, whether it is electronic or not. The best thing is to communicate through media such as Skype, Facetime or Zoom. It is important to see people, because then you are also able to convey much more information.
What then to fill your days with?
- Physical activity. Move about a bit. Do not stay inside all day, rather go out and get some fresh air. Watching Netflix all day is not to be recommended, said Fostervold.
Seeing that we have a psychologist on the line: are there any differences in this regard when it comes to students and staff?
– Often staff is more self-driven, because they work with things that they are deeply invested in. Of course, this applies to many students as well, but staff tend to have proved over time that they have a higher degree of self-discipline. Many students are of course very good at this, but those who are not, may suffer in times like these. They lose their normal steering points and let things slide. That is why everyone should have as normal routines as possible.
And what will the psychologist be doing for the next few weeks? Working from home?
- I have several research papers that I am writing, so now is a good time to carry on with that. Luckily, I have well-adapted furniture that I can use. Besides that, I am going to try to make my everyday life as normal as I can, concluded Fostervold.