Coronavirus has forced people to take cover in the confines of their homes. Life still goes on, and there is still work to be done.
Wichita State University will continue classes this semester online. Some of you may already be online full time. Others had some classes online and some In-person. Still others may be taking their first online class starting March 30. Transitioning can be a difficult process. I am a junior and have never taken more than one online class per semester. Switching learning formats unexpectedly can be intimidating, so I decided to do some research (I just googled things, it’s not that impressive) on online classes.
Here are my nine tips on how to succeed in your online classes.
1. Have the right mindset.
If you want to have success in your online classes, you need to have the right mindset. College is important, but how important is it? It is as important as your job. When you think about it, school and your job are similar in several ways. Both give you tasks to complete with a deadline and both grade your performance. Think about how you treat your work and then translate it to your school work. College is a launching pad to your career, so treat it like its important.
2. Manage your time.
Make a weekly plan so you are prepared for the new week. There are several ways you can create your weekly plan. You can write down assignments in a notebook or add events using Blackboard Calendar or Google Calendar. There is no right or wrong answer. Figure out which method of weekly planning works best for you. I use both Google Calendar and a notebook.
Another way to manage your time is to create time blocks for your homework. Don’t wait until the last minute, set time aside before the due date!
3. Find a good place to work.
Your workspace should be dedicated solely to work. The couch may be comfortable, but sooner or later you will end up watching too many viral outbreak movies. If you must do this, I recommend Contagion. Instead, find a place where you normally don’t go to relax. Your workspace should be quiet so you do not become distracted by your environment. Lastly, the space should be easily accessible. When I need to complete homework, I either go to my dad’s office or my room.
4. Take advantage of being online!
You are an online student, which means you have the entire internet at your disposal. There are plenty of online resources you can use. Wichita State University offers GEEKS tutors, the Math Lab and a Writing Center. All of these will help you perform well in class. It is important to note that the internet is a breeding ground for mindless entertainment. If you don’t manage your time (see tip 2), you may awake from a trance and discover you spent the last two hours looking at dank memes. Believe me, the Important Videos playlist has that kind of power.
5. Be mentally engaged.
There is no point in studying if you are not mentally engaged. Quizzing yourself is a great way to check your mental engagement. When you are studying, take a moment to quiz yourself over the material you are studying. If you are unable to come up with the answer, go back over the material until you are confident.
When it comes to video lectures, another way to keep yourself mentally engaged is by taking notes. Often, the instructor will lecture over topics that are not included in the textbook and test you on them. Not only will taking notes save you time on studying, it will keep you mentally engaged!
6. Take breaks.
If you find yourself struggling to stay mentally engaged that’s usually a sign that you need to step away. Go outside, have a snack, or talk with a friend. I like to play basketball in my driveway. The goal is to recharge your mind so you can be more efficient in your studying.
7. Connect with other people.
One of the benefits of In-person classes is that you interact with your classmates face to face. That interaction is an important factor in online and In-person classes. When you interact with other people, you get to hear different opinions that help in understanding material. Reach out to students through online discussions or student email. Invite them to meet up regularly to work through assignments and study for tests. In light of COVID-19 limit these groups to 10 people, preferably those who are comfortable with elbow bumps only.
8. Learn how to use your technology.
If you are taking an online class, it is important for you to know how to use your laptop. Most students would consider themselves tech savvy, but there is always more to learn. Do some research on the inner workings of your laptop. You will be surprised by how much you will learn.
Then familiarize yourself with the educational content your instructor will use for their class. The worst time to learn how to use Blackboard is when you are trying to access a test that’s due that night. Take some time to familiarize yourself with each individual course. Teachers structure their courses differently from each other, so don’t assume that they are all the same. It is also important to make sure you know how to contact your instructors. Problems can arise unexpectedly, so you need to be able to reach your instructors to resolve those problems quickly.
9. Visit WSU’s 4-step/4-Day program for remote students
WSU has provided a program intended to prepare students for online classes. The four steps of the program are:
Step 1: Technology requirements and resources
Step 2: Accessing and using Blackboard and its tools
Step 3. Applications-specific training (eg: Zoom, Panopto, Bb for Mobile, YouTube, and others as we identify them)
Step 4: How to be successful as a remote student and getting help.