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    32 Genius Online Learning Hacks That'll Make Students Say "How Come Nobody Told Me This Earlier?"

    Your camera can't be on if it's broken, right?

    Have you found yourself to be a new, unwitting student of the ~elusive~ Zoom University? Yeah, online learning can be a pain.

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    So we asked students in the BuzzFeed Community to share things that have helped make online learning easier. Here are some of the best responses from students like you:

    1. Sync all of your calendars — Google, Outlook, Canvas — so you don't accidentally miss anything by looking at the wrong one.

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    "Learned that the hard way..."


    2. Put all of your Zoom links into your online calendar. You'll get a reminder before class begins, and you can immediately click to join.

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    "You’ll never have to spend time frantically looking for the right link."


    3. Download the Hypothesis extension for Chrome to highlight and annotate anything you're reading online. (You can even see what other people have annotated.)

    A screenshot of the Hypothesis extension showing a sidebar with annotations over a text version of Herman Melville's "Typee" on Project Gutenberg
    Victoria Vouloumanos / BuzzFeed

    "It'll save all your notes for later and can help you keep track of your thoughts when working. It works on PDFs, websites, eBooks, etc." (Download it for Chrome here.)


    4. During live lectures that are recorded, if you're struggling to take notes *and* participate, pick the latter.

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    "If your classes are recorded, don't bother taking notes during the live class. Participate in discussions during the live class and then watch the recording to take notes later."


    5. Start a group chat with the entire class so you can communicate outside of the Zoom chat. (But don't be afraid to mute if it's poppin' off.)

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    "Be in a group text with the rest of the class — no student excluded. That way, you can get clarification on the lecture or assignment, or tell someone that their mic is on, or simply talk behind the professor’s back. It's great to have the rest of the class in the group text to vent to. This system has helped me SOOOO many times because I can’t trust my own ears. Plus, you guys can share photos and tips."


    6. If your professor puts links to resources in the chat, make sure you save them so you can find them again.

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    7. Use your phone's scanning feature to upload and submit handwritten work (instead of taking a shoddy picture).

    A student holds up their notebook, showing their handwritten math homework
    Victoria Vouloumanos / BuzzFeed

    "Android phones can scan directly to Google Drive without a separate app. Apple phones can do the same through the Notes app (just click the Camera button and select 'Scan documents')."


    8. But if you prefer a specific scanning app, use Camscanner to auto-enhance your image quality, recognize text with OCR, and share as needed.

    A screenshot of the CamScanner site, showing the mobile scanner, Auto edge cropping, and wireless printing features

    "I highly recommend using Camscanner. It's free on Android and Apple, and it darkens all the pencil markings so it's not all faded."


    9. Create a Google Doc for notes and share it with the entire class to use.

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    "You can all take active notes during lecture and update it in real time."


    10. Use the OneTab extension for Chrome to convert all of your open tabs into a list. When you want to reopen them, you can restore them individually or all at once. (This is especially great if you regularly need certain tabs open per class.)

    A screenshot of how OneTab works, showing the extension button that compiles all of your tabs into a list

    "It has been a lifesaver. It puts all of your open tabs into a single tab (or whichever tabs you want to put), organized by date and you can easily reopen them. I just pin the OneTab tab, and it always opens with my browser. Super quick and easy!"


    11. Turn OFF the self-view so that you can only see your professor and peers. (You look fine.)

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    "It's weirdly more fatiguing to judge myself for 30-90 minutes than it is to listen to and look at other people. 🤷‍♀️"


    12. Get a WiFi extender if your signal is too weak to reach everywhere in your house.

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    "My WiFi only works downstairs in my house, and my parents insist on being down there so they can watch TV (even though they have a tv in their room). The WiFi extender lets me actually do things upstairs without constantly losing connection or not being able to connect at all."


    13. Keep your camera on and participate in class. It'll help keep you accountable, and your professor will remember you!

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    "Professors remember students who have their cameras on, because those are the people that they look to for visual cues and feedback. My camera keeps me accountable and motivates me to participate. I definitely learn more. Also, make your bed and get dressed. Take walks after class like you would if you were on campus."


    "As a teacher, I beg you. Please turn on your camera! Talk to us! PLEASE!"


    14. On the other hand, if you legitimately do not want to show yourself or your space, you can put opaque tape over your camera and say it's broken.

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    "If your teachers are demanding you turn on your camera but you don't want to, put opaque tape over your camera and say it's broken."


    15. Put your phone somewhere where it won't distract you — like another room or in a drawer.

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    "I find it so hard to concentrate in class or on assignments when I could be scrolling through social media (mostly TikTok). It’s easier said then done, but when I put my phone in a totally different room, then I pay attention in class and am able to get my work done so much faster and easier."


    16. Try not to work solely in your bedroom. Instead, find a designated space to work in.

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    "If you have a dining room, living room, guest room, whatever, move around and do classes somewhere else. Have a designated space that isn’t your room for classes. This will help you get into the 'school-time' headspace when you sit in that room and let your bedroom continue to be a place of respite. It’ll help you focus, pay more attention, be better prepared, and get better sleep."


    17. But if you do, try not to tune into your class from bed. Give yourself enough time to get up and sit at a table.

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    "A lot of my friends wake up five minutes before class starts and log on from their bed, but it’s so much easier to focus if you actually get dressed and sit at a table or desk. Separating where you work and where you relax is worth the little bit of extra effort."


    18. Write out to-do lists! It's easy to forget things when there's no sense of time or space anymore.

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    "Between work and Zoom calls and exams and regular life, it’s really easy to forget stuff. My solution has been to use my phone calendar, keep a daily planner, wall calendar, AND make notes in the lists app too. Four places to store my schedule sounds like it’s excessive, but it has saved me so much and I definitely recommend having your schedule in more than one place."


    19. Pin your crush on Zoom, because why not??

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    20. Inform your family or whoever lives with you when you'll be in class, so that they don't accidentally disturb you during lessons.

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    "There’s been so many times when my sister accidentally walked in during one of my lessons!"


    21. And if they keep forgetting, stick a note on your door so they don't just barge in.

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    "When I'm in class, I close my door and put a sign on it that says, "Class in session: STAY OUT."


    22. Take a walk after class, even if it's just inside your house.

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    "Stretch your legs so you don't feel your body tense up after a couple hours."


    23. Eat before your classes so that you can focus (without being hangry).

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    "If you don't eat anything before your classes, you're going to be unfocused, sleepy and moody. Also, have a small bite between periods and keep a glass of juice, milk, or water close to you in the morning."


    24. Make sure your feet touch the floor while you work.

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    "Teacher here. People would be surprised at what a huge difference this makes!"


    25. Maintain a regular routine (especially your hygiene!) throughout the week.

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    "It sounds so obvious but try to be strict with yourself on this. Shower regularly, put on fresh clothes for your lessons, brush your teeth before class, etc. It will help you stay focused."


    26. Offer to help your professor if you notice that they're struggling with the technology.

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    "It is a little extra work, but, if you have the time, it will save everyone the hassle in the long run. And, your professor will probably remember this when grading. It‘s honestly a win-win!"


    27. Zoom fatigue is real, so stay in contact with your professors and update them on how you're actually doing.

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    "It’ll really expose which professors are assholes and have no understanding or sympathy at all. But, for the most part, a lot of my professors are feeling the same fatigue I am. We’re all going through it together, so I find it’s nice to be honest with them, and they usually do the same in return. It creates a level of understanding when we can all really use it. And cut your professors some slack, they’re doing their best."


    28. If someone you find annoying is speaking, mute your computer.

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    "So satisfying to just watch their lips move but not have to hear the B.S. they say lol."


    29. If music helps you focus, play your lectures through your computer speakers out loud and listen to music through your earbuds.

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    "You can still hear the lecture (and if not, just wear one ear). This helps me stay calm and focused. It has also stopped me from crying on Zoom a couple (or more!) times."


    30. Don’t cry on camera.

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    31. Wear headphones — especially if you live with other people — to help drown out any distracting noise.

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    "It also helps others around you focus on what they’re doing (if they’re also in school/at work) because they can’t hear what you’re listening to."


    32. And, of course, if there's something you're struggling with or don't understand, ask for help as soon as possible.

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    "It'll only get worse if you wait. Also, being more engaged with your professors and classmates like that will help with motivation."


    Lookin' for more? Check out these student hacks that you'll wish you knew about sooner!