It is no secret that the COVID-19 virus pandemic has forced everyone to make drastic changes to their daily lives. Businesses are moving to remote work. K-12 schools must embrace distance learning. Many college students who were previously enrolled on-campus now find themselves in unexpected online learning.
While online learning carries many positive benefits that make it the preferred choice for millions of students, it doesn’t come without its challenges–especially for students who are more familiar with in-person courses.
These are seven tips by Jonathan Small – associate vice president for Online Learning at Regis College – that you can use in order to adjust your study habits when moving fully online.
Tips for Taking Online Courses
1. To understand the due dates for your assignment, look ahead.
Students who enroll in online courses usually interact with the subject matter through a learning management platform (LMS). Regis’ online classes use Moodle. Blackboard and Canvas are also popular.
Whatever LMS your course uses, it’s important to spend time familiarizing yourself with the interface and specific assignments. To help you plan realistically for all your work, look ahead to your assignments.
Small says, “Online classes typically have a modular structure, so you may not have the same structure as a face-to-face class.” Small says that it is not common to have a physical reminder in an online class that homework is due. There are many things happening in an online class. Students must be organized.
2. Schedule time to study and work in small groups.
Regis students, like other universities, have many responsibilities and obligations. Your time is often consumed by childcare, work, family obligations, or internships. You need to create a schedule that meets all your needs.
Small says, “Chunking, or as I like to refer to it, gives students the ability to feel accomplished.” It makes you feel like your learning is progressing. A schedule that is specifically dedicated to studying can help you create and keep a routine.
3. Group projects require regular communication.
Some college courses require you to complete assignments and group projects with other students. This is equally true for online courses and for in-person courses. Small says that although in-person courses can facilitate group projects by bringing people together face-to-face, online learners should be more careful to ensure they communicate well.
Groups need to prioritize communication in order to avoid confusion.
Small suggests that you find a system that works best for all members of the group and to follow up regularly.
4. It is a good idea to divide work into groups early.
In the same vein, groups should be able to clearly divide up tasks so that everyone is accountable for their part and that everyone understands what they need to complete.
Small suggests that “group projects” should be planned well in advance to allow for division of work and coordination. “This will allow everyone to make their own schedules and complete their tasks even if it isn’t due in a few weeks.
5. Regularly touch base with your professor.
It’s just as important to communicate well with your classmates and fellow group members, but it’s equally important to communicate well with your professor. Be sure to communicate with your professor whether you have questions or are just trying to help.
Small says, “Talking to your instructor is one of the keys to success.” Don’t try to resolve your issues on your own. The professor will be there to assist you. It only takes five minutes to call your instructor and you can avoid stressing out for days. You’ll feel more relaxed, you’ll receive clarification, and you will be more successful.
Do not think you can only communicate with your professor when something is wrong. Let your professor know when you are happy – whether it’s a valuable lesson or an appreciation for a fellow groupmate – this will help you to build a relationship.
6. Participate as many times as you can
Participation is vital to your success whether you’re taking online courses or in-person. Active participation not only shows professors that you are interested but also shows your willingness to learn and put in the effort necessary to succeed. Although education is often viewed as passive, participation transforms it into an active process.
Small says, “The more you participate as a student, the better you’ll get.”
7. Be flexible
Online learning requires flexibility. This applies to you as well as your classmates, as well as your professors.
Small says, “Remember that remote teaching was a process that took your instructors as much time as it took you to transition to online learning.
“Nobody predicted this. You can make the transition to campus as seamless as possible by showing empathy, participating in your course materials, and speaking to your instructors.
You Have to Put In the Work
Even though online learning may not be your first choice, of course, you can make the most of it by following the advice provided above. You will succeed in this difficult period by communicating clearly and openly with your classmates as well as engaging in the course material.
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