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E-learning: What were your struggles, and how did you overcome them?

There isn’t a definite way to study effectively, so finding a method that suits you most is more important.

The century’s largest pandemic — COVID-19 — has fundamentally changed the mode of learning for students around the world. While our medical students are of course no stranger to e-learning, it has understandably been a challenge for us all to fully migrate to new modes of remote learning.

As we each grapple with our own struggles to adapt to this new normal, let’s hear from our medical students to see how they have each employed unique strategies to overcome these difficulties, as the pandemic continues to cause ripples around the world.

Anson Cheung (MBBS I)

I struggled a lot in changing my mode of learning from paper handouts and notes to one single computer. Everything seemed so hidden from me as the computer could only display one screen at a time, and the learning experience felt so vague and intangible as I didn’t have to travel back to campus for classes.

Nevertheless, the benefits of e-learning overcame the drawbacks. The use of online mode opens up new ways to engage students in learning, including the Moodle Badge reward system that encourages students to exchange knowledge openly with everyone. They say “many a little makes a mickle”; the quality exchange of knowledge between students showed me how I am not learning alone.

Morain Li (MBBS II)

I have many constant struggles with e-learning, with the greatest one being “the lack of motivation”, as staying home can get too comfortable to the point where I easily lose all motivation to study. It definitely had a negative impact on my learning progress and efficiency, as I ended with a terrible result in my first formative assessment during the first semester as a freshman.

Although I’m still learning to balance my studies and emotions, I’ve been more focused and productive throughout my e-learning journey. Instead of having a complete timetable, I create to-do lists for me to complete on the day. I’m less stressed out by this kind of scheduling as I don’t need to strictly follow each time slot. One special element to my “timetable” is that I jot down the entertainment activities that I want to do as well. For example, I might jot down on my daily to-do list a certain chapter in a video game that I’d like to play. This helps keep somewhat of a work-life balance.

I also really enjoy using the app “Forest”, which helps me stop myself from using my phone during study time. At the end of the day, it’s also satisfying to see how many hours I’ve spent studying each day.

Judy Yu (MBBS II)

There’s A LOT being covered in the MBBS II curriculum, and honestly I do find it hard and depressing to undergo the loop of revision — forgetting everything — then revising again and again. I often question myself: could I possibly digest all those materials and effortlessly recall them like most of my classmates? (It absolutely terrifies me when I notice my knowledge gaps, knowing there’s plenty more to recite and revise on)

I guess the feeling of insecurity never goes away, so the only thing I can do is to live with it rather than rejecting it. To help myself deal with that, I write down all my feelings on a piece of paper, come up with a short analysis of why I’m feeling that way, and assess whether I can do anything to resolve them.

I found this method particularly helpful as I can calm myself down and carry out a relatively logical evaluation of what I should do next. I find it helps me avoid overthinking and stressing myself out again.

Joshua Wang (MBBS II)

I believe that self-confidence and external support is key. Try not to doubt your inner voice; and talk to your family or friends about the rough times you are experiencing. Trust me, it will make you feel a lot better when you let it out.

Also, consider having a hobby outside of your studies. This way you would be able to have something to do when you do not want to study (always me haha), and feel that you are not wasting time by doing things like watching YouTube.

Cherry Chan (MBBS II)

Two problems which affected me the most were neck pain and eye strain due to the long hours of staring at the computer screen. To help relieve them, I often do some stretches and give my eyes a break by looking far away at an object every now and then.

Vanessa Ip (MBBS II)

I find it quite challenging to keep myself on track with all the e-learning videos and other practical materials. There were times when I found myself unable to catch up with the intended pace, which ended up affecting my chances to join interactive sessions and engage in discussions. This was particularly prevalent during face-to-face sessions.

I do try not to stress myself over the fact that I am not at the exact pace, and instead I start with my own schedules and daily goals to gradually build up the pace and catch up on those materials. To me, this is more effective than trying to cram 10 lectures in one day because I will feel extremely fatigued and I would not be able to understand the content properly.

There isn’t a definite way to study effectively, so finding a method that suits you most is more important.

These students are top recipients of the Moodle Badge reward system (Semester 1 2020/21) on the Moodle Online Forum for the MBBS Programme at HKUMed.

The Moodle Online Forum is a platform for MBBS students to discuss lecture contents with peers, seniors, and teachers in an asynchronous manner. As means of acknowledging those who have played a huge role in creating a supportive online learning environment, and encouraging students’ participation and generation of high-quality discussions on Moodle, the Moodle Badge reward system was established.

The long-term goal for the platform is to build a mutually supportive learning community among students through cultivating a collaborative culture of knowledge sharing, raising awareness for support and resources available to students throughout their studies, and improving online wellbeing.

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