Attending online classes can be completely different from attending in-person classes. Is this your first experience outside the physical classroom? These tips will help you overcome common challenges and make the most of online class benefits.
Tip #1 – Familiarize Yourself with Your School’s Virtual Portal
Every college has its own uniquely designed virtual portal or Learning Management System. Familiarizing yourself with this virtual portal in advance is important so you are not fumbling about when classes start. Log in to the portal using your unique log in details and learn how to navigate this virtual instructional space. Doing a few test runs will help you ease into your virtual class sessions once they get started.
Tip #2 – Prepare for Your Virtual Classroom
Preparing for a virtual classroom will be completely different from preparing for a traditional classroom. Start by making sure you have a good computer and a wired, high-speed internet connection. Get and install the necessary software that your college recommends. Conduct a thorough systems check to ensure that the computer you’ll be using meets the technical requirements. Last but not least, review the course materials just as you would in a traditional classroom.
Tip #3 – Have a Quiet, Dedicated Study Space
It’s easy to carry your laptop around and listen in to lectures from anywhere in the house or even the porch. But it’s not a good idea. It’s hard to stay focused when other family members are walking around or talking. Pets can be just as distracting.
While you don’t need to recreate a classroom environment at home, experts recommend that you do have a dedicated study space. This should be somewhere quiet that is meant only for attending lectures, studying, and completing homework assignments. Make sure it’s far away from the television, and your video game console.
A dedicated study space will help you stay more focused when it’s study time. Just as important, it will help you disconnect from school work when you’re done studying.
Tip #4 – Minimize Distractions
Having a dedicated study space can help minimize some distractions that come from being at home. However, you can still get distracted by continuous email and message notifications on your computer and phone. It’s impossible to focus on your lecture when you’re constantly checking for messages and updates.
There are several ways to minimize distractions while you’re listening to a class. Close all internet tabs and chat windows. Turn off notifications too. Better still, use an app to block all digital distractions. There’s plenty of time to catch up with social media and messages after class is over.
Don’t forget to let family members know about your class schedules so everyone knows not to disturb you during those times. Hanging a ‘Do Not Disturb’ note outside your door can be very effective.
Tip #5 – Take Notes During Lectures
All the information you want is easily available online. You can get information on just about everything, any time you need it. So why bother taking notes?
Studies show that taking notes has several benefits for students. The most important benefit is that it helps you engage with the material. This helps you comprehend the matter better. It also improves retention.
Do yourself a favor and boost your comprehension and retention by taking copious notes as you listen to your lectures.
Tip #6 – Participate in Classroom Activities and Group Discussions
You may not be face to face with your professor and classmates but there are still ways to participate in classroom discussions. Some classroom discussions may involve getting online at a fixed time and discussing the provided topic with your group. At other times this may involve posting your response to a discussion board. The professor may provide the topic for the discussion and provide the ground rules. Or they may ask the students to brainstorm a relevant topic for their group discussion.
You must make it a point to always participate in all classroom activities and group discussions. These can give you the feeling that you’re part of a classroom and not sitting by yourself away from the others.
Tip #7 – Check Your Email Regularly
With online classes, checking your email regularly is essential. They may send you emails to notify you about updated study resources, changes to assignment due dates, new test guidelines, and other notifications. These are not emails you can read several days later or may miss some crucial update or deadline. You do not need to check your mail every hour but make it a habit you check at least once a day. Set a reminder if you tend to forget.
Tip #8 – Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help When You Need It
Don’t hesitate to ask your professor for help if you don’t understand something or you need some clarification. You may not be able to get your doubts clarified face-to-face but it doesn’t mean you can’t get any help at all. There are two ways you can do this. You can email your professor with your question or request an appointment to chat with them virtually to get your doubts cleared. Professors are always more than willing to help but they won’t know you need help if you don’t ask.
Online classes may seem overwhelming at first. You may miss sitting in a classroom and listening to lectures in-person with your classmates. But don’t let the enforced distance learning situation get you down. Remember, it’s only a temporary situation. Meanwhile, find healthy ways to cope with the current situation and focus on making the most of your online classes.
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