It is no secret that the COVID-19 epidemic has made it necessary for us all to make significant changes in our lives. Remote work has been an option for businesses; K-12 schools have adopted distance learning as a necessity; many college students, who were previously enrolled in on-campus courses, now have to learn online.
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.
Here are seven tips from Jonathan Small (associate vice president for online learning at Regis College), that will help you to adapt your study habits to fully online learning.
Tips for Online Classes
1. Take the time to plan ahead and understand when your assignment is due.
Online students interact with the subject matter and complete assignments via learning management software (LMS). Regis offers online classes through Moodle. Other popular tools include Canvas and Blackboard.
It doesn’t matter what LMS you use, it is important that you take the time to familiarize yourself with the interface as well as your assignments. Take a look at the due dates for your assignments so you can create a realistic plan to complete them.
Small says that online classes are often structured in modular formats, which is different from face-to-face classes. You don’t always have the physical reminder that your work is due in class. Online classes can be very busy, so students must organize their time.
2. Make sure you have enough time to study.
Many students at Regis and other universities pursue their education while also fulfilling other obligations. You have to balance work, childcare, family obligations, and internships.
Small says, “Chunking tasks is a great way for students to feel accomplished.” You feel like you are making progress. You can also schedule a time to study, which will help you establish and maintain a routine.
3. Regular communication is essential for group projects.
Many college courses include group projects and assignments that you must complete with others in the class. This is true for both online and in-person courses. Small says that while in-person courses allow for group projects and bring people together face-to-face, online students must be careful about communicating effectively.
Groups must prioritize communication, regardless of whether it’s via Zoom, email or phone call, instant messaging, shared documents, or any other form altogether.
Small says, “Find a system that works for everyone in your group and then follow up often.”
4. Split up work groups early.
It is important that groups are able to properly divide tasks so that everyone has a fair share and everyone knows exactly what they have to do.
Small advises that group projects should be planned far in advance so that everyone can share the work and coordinate their efforts. This way, even if something isn’t due for a few more weeks, everyone has the opportunity to use their time and work on their tasks as they can.
5. Keep in touch with your professor frequently.
As important as it is to communicate with your classmates and group members, it’s equally important that you communicate with your instructor or professor. Whether you need help with an assignment, or simply want to share your struggles with them, make the effort to contact your professor.
Small says that talking to your instructor is key to success. Small says that you don’t have to struggle with your questions and concerns alone. The professor can help. Talking to your instructor for five minutes can help you save days of stress. You will feel better, get more clarity, and be more successful.
You don’t have to communicate only when things are going wrong. You can build a rapport with your instructor by letting them know when things are going well.
6. Participate as often as you can
Participation is key to your success, no matter if you are taking classes online or in person. Active participation not only shows your professor you are engaged but also shows you are learning and willing to do the work required to succeed. Participation transforms education from a passive process to one that is active.
Small says that the more you take part as a student the better your experience will be.
7. Flexibility is key.
Flexibility is key to online learning, both for you and your fellow students–including your professors.
Small says, “Remember that your instructors had only to switch to remote teaching within a weekend. That’s the same time it took to transition to online learning.”
“Nobody expected this. It’s possible to recreate campus community by simply being compassionate, active in your course material, and talking to your instructors. This will make the transition smoother.
Put in the Work
Online learning might not be your first choice. However, the tips and advice above will help you make the most of your online courses. Clear and open communication with your classmates and instructors, as well as staying focused on the course material, will be key to success in this difficult time.