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In our new ‘Study with’ series, we hear from Crawford’s students and graduates about their time studying public policy. Despite it bringing many challenges, COVID-19 has also opened up fresh opportunities for online study. In the coming weeks, our students will talk about their experiences studying online, and share their tips about how to make the most of it.
Having just started his degree, Crawford student Sam Beaver was immediately thrown into online lectures and Zoom seminars, enjoying greater flexibility whilst finding innovative ways to get to know his classmates.
Whilst learning alongside his peers wasn’t possible, studying online also came with its perks - from greater flexibility to getting to hear directly from experts overseas. “I think one of the major advantages of online learning is obviously the flexibility it provides.
“We’ve also had such a breadth of individuals sharing their knowledge from all over Australia and even some tapping in from overseas. It’s really been amazing to see that in the middle of a pandemic, we can still all connect and learn from people scattered all over the world.”
Out of all the classes Sam has taken so far, he particularly enjoyed Dr Bec Colvin’s ‘Environmental Policy and Communications’ class and Associate Professor John McCarthy’s ‘State, Society and Natural Resources’ course.
“Dr Colvin’s course was a fascinating mix of psychology, sociology, political studies and environmental communication. It has really helped me grasp the crucial role of communication and understanding people in analysing how environmental issues unfold in a human-centered world, and more importantly how key this understanding is in finding appropriate solutions.
“Professor McCarthy’s class gave me a really interesting insight into the structures operating in the background that form environmental issues, and has given me many tools to be able to try and analyse them.”
According to Sam, Dr Colvin’s canine companions also made sure to keep people entertained.
“The constant featuring of Dr Colvin’s dogs in her lectures has definitely been a highlight. Apparently putting cute dogs in a lecture every now and then is a great way of keeping people engaged.”
Settling into the world of online learning, Sam quickly found his favourite places to study. “Hancock Library has become a bit of a second home over the semester. The building has lots of nice little corner desks that get plenty of sun and great campus views.
“I think going there has been pretty crucial for me to get a bit of the social aspect of learning that we miss out on at times through online learning.”
Not being able to sit in an actual classroom, Sam stayed focused by taking occasional breaks and connecting with his classmates. “It’s easy to get glued to your laptop when you’re learning solely online. I’ve found getting outside to let my mind relax a bit helps me work at my best later. “I also put in real effort to connect with my classmates over Zoom. It’s been so much more enjoyable for me when I really started to engage with individuals on a more personal level.”
While being social on Zoom can be difficult initially, being self-aware and ensuring everyone has space to contribute is key, according to Sam. “Allow others the opportunity to contribute if you’re a chatty-type or push yourself into contributing if you’re generally a bit more quiet. Zoom can be an awkward place at times, but it definitely doesn’t have to be!”