What to know about studying an MBA during a pandemic
21 August 2020

Olga Usacheva was midway through her Full-time MBA when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK. In this blog, Olga discusses the transition from face-to-face to online learning and shares her top tips for maximising online learning opportunities. 

An MBA is all about big transitions in your life and career for a lot of people, but this year our Full-time MBA class had one more transition to go through: our Term 3 comprising of elective courses had to be done online. Never before I had to experience so much online learning: sure a few hours of e-learning were ok, but what about the full day? 

I must say the academic faculty did an excellent job of making the sessions engaging and interactive, with lots of opportunities to network.

The biggest challenges for me were sitting the whole day in front of the computer screen, being more easily distracted during the class and networking online. Over time I’ve accumulated some tips and tricks that made the transition to online learning smoother.

Improving the full-day online learning experience

1.  Sitting all day in front of the computer is hard, so I’ve planned some short walks or small exercise breaks before, during and after the studies to stretch my muscles and switch off.  

2. Personally I found that changing places throughout the day helps with not getting tired of sitting in one place. Consider the different spaces in your living area you can use for a change of surroundings. And if you have an opportunity to share internet through mobile phone, why not study outside?

Dealing with distractions 

3. Having 5-10 minutes in the morning (ideally during a short walk) before the class to reflect on what I’ve learnt yesterday and what I want to take away from this day’s session helped me to stay focused throughout the day. 

4. It is natural for your mind to wander because you have less stimulus than a face-to-face session. Just don’t make it worse. Putting my phone away and closing all other tabs on my browser helped me to stay focused. 

5. Lounging in your PJs or casual attire sounds tempting, but dressing up even a bit made me more focused and concentrated: all this effort pays off in the end.

Networking online 

6. Turning the video on the first time I was meeting my group (the bandwidth can sometimes be an issue to conduct all group meetings like this) made it a bit more personal and helped to break the ice, which contributed a lot to the overall group engagement. 

7. Elective modules are great for networking as they combine students from the Distance Learning MBAExecutive MBA, and Full-time MBA programmes. Make sure you use this opportunity to learn about other students in the class. Having short online catch-ups after the class (we had movie nights and quiz nights) was extremely helpful to get to know my classmates. 

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