By Caitlin Moir |

On May 17, 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven addressed the graduating class of the University of Texas and told the approximately 8,000 students that one of the most important things they can each do every day is make their bed. McRaven, a Navy SEAL, was advising a collection of budding young minds that had no doubtedly put in the hard yards to be passing through this prestigious school that making their bed needs to be regarded as a virtuous task.. Why? And what does this have to do with online learning?

McRaven said the following:

“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right. And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”

After reading this quote, it would be appropriate to think, “Ah! The connection between making one’s bed and online learning is a want to change the world!” And that is true. But that is not where I initially drew the parallels. Between living in a Covid world and working as a Learning Designer in the Online Education industry (i.e., working from home), making my bed, for the first time, became something I didn’t always do, and its importance became lost on me. My morning “commute” now entails walking up the stairs, flipping on the kettle, and sinking into the office chair at my multi-purpose meal/work/craft table. My routine was entirely shaken up, as it has been for everyone.

I remembered the importance of having a made bed the day I needed to have a last-minute meeting with a client, and the only room available for me at that moment was my bedroom. I told a white lie and said my camera was off due to shaky Wifi. I realized then that the importance of making my bed has to do with normalcy. Working from home is my new normal and going forward, I suspect that for many, working and learning from home will be their new normal. So make it normal by doing the things you did ‘yesterday,’ like getting out of your pajamas even if there is no one to see your nicely ironed clothes.

It certainly looks and feels like the future of education is online. In South Africa, this is both exciting and daunting. Exciting because there is an opportunity to narrow the gap between those fortunate enough to be educated and those whose situations do not afford it. But it is a daunting task too because of the mammoth size that this gap has grown to. To manage this intimidation, we can strive to remember the importance of small things. Like making a bed. Or creating online learning.


Caitlin Moir

Caitlin Moir

Learning Designer at Construct

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