Surviving Online Learning for the Fall Semester

A majority of Pace University students are now taking some, if not all, of their classes online. The switch earlier this year in March has made many of our matriculating students more than familiar with the concept of remote learning. However, the transition for our first-year students may not exactly be the same. Fortunately enough, our new students have done an amazing job adjusting to this new learning environment. During those few months of online learning throughout the previous semester, in addition to my learning experience over the summer, I’ve accumulated a handful of tips that can be beneficial to my peers here at Pace. Whether you’re a first-year student or not, these tips have the potential to improve the online learning experience of any student for the fall semester.

Tip Number One: Make a Schedule 

A calendar on a desk.

Building on the advice of one of our earlier articles, having a schedule is essential to keeping track of your work for the following months. In addition to that, using a planner can also make a world of a difference when organizing your tasks for each day. I’ve found that having a calendar makes it easier for me to know when I’m free to catch up on homework, and having a planner allows me to make a list of assignments that need to be tackled each day.

Tip Number Two: Try to Wake Up At a Reasonable Time

A woman waking up in bed.

Waking up at a reasonable time should not be out of the question, even for online learning. Resist the urge to stay in bed and try waking up early enough to do somewhat of a morning routine. Whether that includes grabbing coffee or doing yoga, having a morning routine should give you enough time to become fully alert for class.

Tip Number Three: Dress Up for Class

A woman standing at the entrance of her closet.

Even though classes are online, dressing the part can put you in a more productive mindset for learning. When getting ready, try wearing a piece or two that signifies that it’s time to work. This should be something comfortable, but not too comfortable, that way you don’t feel inclined to crawl back into bed afterwards.

Tip Number Four: Find Proper Lighting

A desk with a laptop on top of it and a large window in the background.

This one is not just for the sake of looking decent during a Zoom call. Lighting has a significant impact on our productivity. If you’re getting ready for class, try to stay in a well-lit area so that you are alert and focused. Dimly lit areas can make you feel sleepy and unmotivated to do work so try your best to avoid them if you can.

Tip Number Five: Use Headphones

A student wearing headphones and doing work.

If you own a set of headphones, try using them, especially when you’re in a noisy environment. Noise-canceling headphones are especially helpful with blocking out sound so that you can stay focused during lectures.

Tip Number Six: Let Others Know When You’re Busy

A sign that says "Do Not Disturb."

If you live with other people, let them know when you’re busy so that they don’t interrupt you while you’re working. One way you can do this is by sharing your schedule with them so that they know in advance when not to disturb you. Or, if you have a room to yourself you can try putting a note on your door to let others know that you’re preoccupied. 

Tip Number Seven: Make Time for Yourself

A man relaxing in the outdoors.

Setting aside time for yourself is one of the biggest keys to being productive. Little things like designating times for work and self-care can help you feel more focused when you’re working and more relaxed when you’re not. Figure out ways to destress and try implementing a few of them into your daily routine.

Tip Number Eight: Unplug When You Can

A woman reading in a hammock.

One of the biggest issues I faced when transitioning to online classes was the burnout from using technology way too much. I was on my laptop for school and work, plus a majority of the ways I de-stressed included the use of my laptop, TV, or Switch. When you can, please try to take a few moments out of your day to do an activity that doesn’t require a screen—like reading a book (paperback or hardcover), going for a walk, playing a board game, etc.

Tip Number Nine: Set Timers When Working

An orange clock.

This trick has worked wonders for me during my time in high school up until now. The method I’ll be sharing is heavily inspired by the Pomodoro Technique. When I have an assignment to do, I usually set a timer for about an hour and commit myself to working with no breaks during that time frame. After an hour is up, I take a fifteen to twenty-minute break and then repeat. I find that doing this makes me way more productive than doing work for hours on end.

Tip Number Ten: Boost Your Productivity

A woman sitting on her bed with her laptop and a cup of coffee.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, but still want to get some work done, try doing other tasks that are not as difficult to complete. This should be something easy for you to do both physically and mentally, that way you can still get things done without overworking yourself. If at any point you’re feeling too overwhelmed to do anything at all, then taking a break is certainly the most productive thing you can do.

Online learning has definitely been a learning curve for everyone, however, these tips can help make the adjustment into this new learning environment a lot easier. With so much uncertainty surrounding the continued practice of learning online, growing accustomed to it from now can help normalize its use until it is safe to return to regular in-person classes.

 

How to Stay Productive During Quarantine

From the title of this article, you might be wondering: why would I want to be productive during a time like this? Although it feels like what’s going on will never end, that couldn’t be further from the truth. At some point, things will return back to normal–classes will resume, friends will reunite, and some of us will even return back to find exciting internships and jobs. It may feel like that’s ages from now, but it will happen, and when it does you might want to be prepared. Being productive is hard, however, when you find ways to be productive that are also fun, it becomes a tad bit easier. So, to spare you the trouble of figuring out what those ways might be, here is a list of some fun (yet beneficial) ways to stay productive during quarantine.

1. Virtual Hackathons

Robot Typing

 

 

One way to stay productive is to attend a virtual hackathon. Although many of us may be more familiar with attending in-person hackathons, it doesn’t hurt to attend a virtual one. Plus with everything going on, a virtual hackathon is definitely much safer to attend. Not only are you doing your part by social distancing, but you’re also doing yourself a favor by putting in valuable coding time. Don’t let your skills get rusty. Take part in something that will build the skills you already have. There are plenty of virtual hackathons to attend, so look into one that might fit you!

2. Coding Activities

Girl Pretending To Type

 

This next idea is more of a group effort. If you’re stuck at home with any younger, female-identifying family members who also have an interest in technology, you should try introducing them to Girls Who Code, which is a program that encourages young girls to pursue any potential interest they may have in technology. With the gender gap in this field gradually increasing, it is not only important for us to provide girls with the resources they need, but it is also important that we make them feel welcomed. If you have any time to spare, you can also sit down with your sister, cousin, etc., and walk them through some weekly Girls Who Code At Home Activities. That way you get to help them expand their knowledge while also spending time with them and learning a little bit more yourself.

3. Revamp Your Resume

Girl At Job Interview

Despite everything that’s going on, once life returns back to some level of normalcy, we all have internships and jobs to look forward to. That’s why one of the best uses of any free time you have now could be used towards tweaking your resume. Thankfully, there are ways to make that process easier. One of the first steps is to book an appointment for a resume workshop on Handshake. All you need to do is log in with your Pace credentials, click the Career Center tab, and go into Appointments. Another thing you can also do is work on your resume using the Resume and Cover Letter Guidebook before your appointment. Doing so will save you a lot of time and help you complete your resume much faster. Also, please note that in order to apply for internships or jobs through Handshake with Pace, your resume has to be completed and approved by Career Services.

4. Look Into Potential Internships

Character Saying I Got The Job

After your resume is completed and approved, you can start looking into internships on Handshake. Using the website or the app, you can search for internships based on your major and internships based on location. Also, Handshake will show you the employer’s hiring preferences and whether or not your major, year level, or experience matches what they’re looking for.

5. Work On A Project That Interests You

Woman Lowering Her Glasses

Whether it be an app, a website, or a computer, work on a project that interests you. It can be something that you’re excited to do but also sharpens your technical skills. Being productive and staying motivated are less strenuous when you’re doing something you absolutely enjoy. With all this free time available, you can finally get started on that project you’ve been thinking about. If you don’t have a project idea, think of something you’re passionate about. For instance, if you’re unhappy about something that’s currently going on, maybe you could think of an idea that has the potential to help others. It could be a big and elaborate idea, or it can be small, simple, and to the point. Whatever your idea may be, go for it!

6. Attend A Club Meeting (via Zoom)

Fictional Business Meeting

If you’re a member of any Seidenberg clubs or genuinely interested in becoming a member, you can officially attend a club meeting using Zoom. Also, Pace Women In Tech, PCS, Seidenberg Tech Collective, and the Pace Cybersecurity Club are all really active – they are sharing events on social media, Discord, and email!

7. Relax

Woman At A Spa

Yes, being productive is important, however, productivity is nothing without peace of mind. If you’re too tired or stressed to be productive, then chances are your work will reflect that. Have a spa day, do some face masks, watch a movie, FaceTime friends, etc. Do what you have to do in order to recenter your mind, body, and soul.

During this unprecedented time, the Seidenberg School of CSIS would like to thank those working on the frontlines to protect the wellbeing of others and we’d also like to send our condolences to families who have lost any loved ones to this outbreak. It is important that during this time we look out and care for one another. For any students struggling to cope with what’s currently going on, here is a link to some tips and resources that you may find helpful.

 

 

Pace University professor Richard Kline 3D prints face shield frames for New York medical workers to protect against COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis has brought with it numerous challenges, but there have also been many moments in which the human drive to help others during times of hardship has blossomed.

One such instance was the work of Richard Kline, a professor of computer science at Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. As a techie, Dr. Kline wanted to see whether he could contribute to the crisis response in any way. After reading an article about makers – people who design, prototype, and build objects, often in makerspaces – banding together to create much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical workers, Dr. Kline saw an opportunity to help.

“I contacted the volunteer group at NYCMakesPPE.com and got into their Discord chat group,” explained Dr. Kline. “I was asked right away to print a prototype for a new face shield frame design they are working on.”

Dr. Kline demoing the 3d printed frame, wearing it on his head.
Dr. Kline demoing the 3d printed frame.

A small team of volunteers were already working to improve upon a public-domain face shield design from Swedish company 3DVerkstan to increase the amount of space in front of the wearer’s head and to allow the clear plastic shields to be attached more easily.

After sharing photos of the prototype and offering feedback, Dr. Kline continued to work with fellow volunteers.

Dr. Kline demoing the 3d printed frame with shield, wearing it on his head with the shield covering his face.
Dr. Kline demoing the full face shield.

“Since that first print, I’ve helped with several further iterations among discussions with half a dozen other people, many with expertise in design and manufacturing. I’ve also printed 60 copies of their ‘production’ frame design to contribute to the group’s supply.”

With the 60 frames packed up, Dr. Kline mailed them to the NYCMakesPPE  organizers. Once they arrive, other volunteers will attach clear plastic shields (which they are also making), sanitize them, and prepare them for distribution within NYC.

A picture of a 3d printer and printing materials.
The 3d printer and materials for printing frames.

“It’s gratifying to have found something concrete I can do to help out in a small way during these troubling times,” said Dr. Kline.

We are filled with #SeidenbergPride at Dr. Kline’s contributions of much-needed equipment for New York medical workers. As Pace University has campuses in both New York City and Westchester, New York is our home – so we are always looking for an opportunity where the Pace and Seidenberg community can make an impact.

A Survival Guide to Learning Remotely

If you’re a student struggling through this shift from going to class or work each day to learning remotely from home, you’re not alone. We’re all going through this together as a community, so this guide is for all of us. Whether you need help making a schedule, navigating Blackboard, or keeping in touch with your professors, this guide has helpful information for all of the facets of remote learning. Read through our seven tips from Leanne Keeley, Web Developer for Pace University and Seidenberg Community Member, for an easier and more organized virtual semester!

1. Focus on communication…

Check Blackboard and your student email every day for announcements from your professors. Email or call your professor for any reason—whether you have questions about the course overall, about an assignment, and if you’re struggling with anything. Make sure you know when your professor’s office hours are so you can contact them when needed.

2. Make a schedule…

Use an online or paper calendar to keep track of class time, assignments, and due dates. It can be hard to stay on top of classes when moving to a new environment, so making an organizational system for yourself can be key.

3. Create an organized space for yourself…

Set aside a space for doing classwork (besides your bed, of course). Use a desk or table and create a space for yourself. Let your family and anyone else in your space know that you are in class or working so they do not disturb you.

4. Utilize your computer…

Set up a folder for each class on your desktop so you can organize class lectures, assignments, and other varied course work. Make sure all of your folders and documents have good file names so you can easily find them. Ensuring that your computer is backed up in case of an emergency is also good practice!

5. Check-in with yourself…

Take care of yourself. Use Pace and Seidenberg resources if you need help. Check-in with faculty or staff if you are worried about your classes or confused about how to be a remote student. You do your best work when you are happy and healthy.

6. Know your academic resources…

There are many academic resources for students working remotely. You can get an appointment with a tutor for most general classes, get a specific tutor for your Seidenberg classes, and even check out Pace OneDrive. You have access to so many resources that you can find on the Pace University or Seidenberg websites.

7. Utilize your health care resources…

Even when learning remotely, your health care resources are available. If you are worried about your health, university Health Care is just a click away. If you feel anxious or need someone to talk to the Counseling Center is always available to help.

Pace Women in Tech host Sunflower Hack

Pace Women in Tech (WIT) hosted their largest event for the spring 2020 semester on February 29th with an incredibly successful turnout: Sunflower Hack. The hackathon took place on the New York City campus at the Seidenberg School where fifty coders and twenty organizers participated in 12+ hours of ideation and implementation.

Once the clock hit 9am, hackers came rushing into the venue to take part in the event. Pace WIT election board members and hackathon hosts, Jennifer Rhau, Sammy Chen Li, Vivian Ng, Minying He, Angela Bonsol, and Rey Kam kept the event running smoothly all day. Volunteers made sure to assist hackers in any way possible. Workshop leaders Dhruvil Gandhi and Olga Bogomolova (along with the Entrepreneurship Lab) kept the creativity flowing by hosting workshops in Design Thinking, Pitching 101, and Android 101.

Sunflower Hack held winners in a total of five known categories and one unknown category which was revealed as the Surprise Prize category. The five known categories were Best Beginner’s Hack, Best Entrepreneurial Hack, Best Theme Hack, Best Technical Hack, and Best Design Hack. The winners of each category are as followed:

Best Beginner’s Hack: Food for All

Best Entrepreneurial Hack: The Trackers

Best Theme Hack: Cultivate

Best Technical Hack: To The Moon

Best Design Hack: College Community

Surprise Prize: DJ & Know Your Skin

This event was a phenomenal opportunity for the Pace WIT members and Seidenberg community members to show off their talents. We’re so proud of all the work Pace WIT put into this event. We look forward to next year’s hackathon! You can check out all of the winning hacks on the SunflowerHack devpost.

We also caught up with Pace WIT e-board members and Sunflower Hack hosts, Vivian Ng and Angela Bonsol, to see how they thought the event went. Check out their interviews below!

 

Why was it important for Pace WIT to host a Hackathon?

Vivian: It was important for Women in Tech to host Sunflower Hack because it was something that we had been planning for over a year. I remember sitting in the Seidenberg conference room a year ago with the rest of the team wracking our brains for possible event ideas and the idea of a hackathon popped up. A year ago, it was just an idea on paper, but a year later, it became a reality. Sunflower Hack was our brainchild and we were going to make sure to see it through. We wanted it to be something that the future board members of Women in Tech could carry on after we graduated. 

 Angela: As a Women in Tech organization, we wanted to host the first student-run hackathon at Pace University. We also just wanted to give a chance to those who have not gone to a hackathon, especially Pace Students, yet to be first time hackers at an environment they are most comfortable with. It was also important for us to share what Women in Tech is all about. Like the theme authenticity, that’s what Pace WiT is all about… No matter how different you are, that doesn’t make you any less or less qualified for you not to reach for your goals and do what you want to do. 

 What did you expect from Sunflower Hack?

 Vivian: When we first started planning out the logistics for Sunflower Hack, I wasn’t expecting much. I had more concerns about it than anything (you can ask anyone else and they’ll tell you the same thing). My biggest concern was if we were going to meet our goal of 60 attendees, but that concern went away the moment I saw people rapidly entering our hacking space. 

 Angela: I really didn’t think I was expecting much, I thought it would happen just [like] a regular hackathon. I don’t know if it was because I was part of the organizing team, but compared to as when I was a hacker myself, Sunflower Hack was just so different. I definitely felt [a sense of] comfort within the hackers. I just really wanted participants to enjoy the event, and learn a few things here and there. Working in teams within a limited time, experiences that could help them in the real world. 

 How do you feel the Hackathon went?

Vivian: Sunflower Hack exceeded my expectations from the moment it started on that early Saturday morning. All the weekly meetings and late nights were worth it seeing just how successful it really was. It didn’t matter how stressed or tired we were at the end of the day; what mattered was that we put forth something that I’m incredibly proud to say I had a hand in. 

 Angela: It definitely went amazing! It went by a lot more smoothly than I imagined. It really warmed my heart when people stopped to tell me how great the event was going, especially for participants because this[the event] was all for them. There was just a lot of love going on. It was interesting to see our picked theme come to live and be envisioned by all these participants. 

What was your favorite part of the event?

Vivian: My favorite part of Sunflower Hack was the closing ceremony where we got the chance to learn a bit more about our judges and watch as prizes were distributed to the winning teams. As an organizer, the most important thing for me was to know that our attendees enjoyed their time with us and each other. To me, Sunflower Hack wasn’t just a networking event for our sponsors and participants, but a unique experience for everyone to learn and develop their skills as well as make lifelong connections. 

Angela: My favorite part of the event was probably watching the hackers do their thing. My feet were tired, but I still kept making rounds around the lounge because I wanted to see what everyone was working on and just asking them on what they’ve created so far. Also, their interpretation of what authenticity means to them was interesting to find out. I felt really active and out there. They were so into it, it felt like a real hackathon you know. It felt special. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Seidenberg community?

Vivian: I strongly encourage students to attend Sunflower Hack in the years to come; any hackathon you come across and are interested in really, but most importantly Sunflower Hack. The idea from the beginning was for it to become a legacy event for all future Women in Tech student leaders and we hope it continues to grow and flourish. We’re incredibly thankful for the support that we received from all of our sponsors and participants. We truly could not have done any of this without you! 

 Angela: I just want to thank everyone who was involved in making Sunflower Hack come to life. I hope they know how we truly appreciate them. I commend my fellow organizers, you can really see the passion we all had in making this event happen. I remember when we just first started organizing this event, it felt like we weren’t getting any done. As time pass by, it was amazing how slowly this event come to life. From just an idea to actually making it happen. I think that was really the message we were trying to get across. If you have an idea, make it happen! There shouldn’t be anything that can stop you! ​There will always be people supporting you! 

Pace Professor Miguel Mosteiro Gets Work Published in the JACM

The Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems is proud to announce that the work of one of our very own community members, Associate Professor Miguel Mosteiro (as seen on the far left), has been accepted by the Journal of ACM for publication. The ACM, or the Association for Computing Machinery, is an organization that “brings together computing educators, researchers, and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources, and address the field’s challenges.” Through the ACM, members of the computing community are constantly encouraged to expand their knowledge and discover new ways of thinking.

Miguel’s article on “Polynomial Counting in Anonymous Dynamic Networks with Applications to Anonymous Dynamic Algebraic Computations,”, which also won an award for best paper at ICALP in 2018, will soon be added to the ACM’s list of prestigious journal publications. With papers ranging from top research institutions like Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, and Cornell University, it is an honor to have Miguel be recognized amongst other top educators in this field.

“These results received the Best Paper Award at ICALP 2018, the flagship conference of the European Association of Theoretical Computer Science and top 4 worldwide, and now were accepted for publication at the Journal of the Association for Computing Machinery (JACM),” Miguel explains. “To have one’s work published in JACM is an important accomplishment for a CS researcher. The ACM is the top scientific computing society worldwide, and JACM is the top 1 journal venue* in Theoretical Computer Science (TCS). I am honored to have our work on ADNs so recognized by the TCS scientific community, and I look forward to continuing this successful line of work.”

Congratulations to Miguel Mosteiro on his accomplishment. The Seidenberg School is proud of his work on dynamic networks and we’re excited to cheer on his future achievements moving forward!