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Back to School with Online Learning

It’s that time again... back to school. Like last semester our students will be completing their courses online. I know specifically from speaking with the students in my classes, online learning has thrown them a curveball. I completely understand the challenges many students face, however, I want each of them to know that this is the wave of the present and unfortunately we are behind the curve.

It is my goal to help as many people as possible grasp the concept of online learning. Between the research, I’ve done and just everyday observations I have created a list of practical things that will aid our college students in having a successful online semester. Now this list is long so please bear with me...

Ohhhh wait, wait, wait... I almost forgot! Before we even get started let’s address the first issue. It is different types of online classes. Not knowing the difference is the first issue students face and they fail before they even realize the game has begun....

Synchronous- online or distance education that happens in real-time, often with a set class schedule and required login times.

Asynchronous- Students do not “attend” class at a set time, but rather, access pre-recorded lectures and digital curriculum materials and respond through email, discussion boards, social networking, and collaborative documents at a time of their choosing.

Hybrid- blended learning models

Now let us begin...

  1. Create a workspace

You’ll need to make sure you have a dedicated workspace set up where you can do all of your lectures, assignments, and studying online in peace with minimal distractions. Of course, this will be a tough task if you’re in quarantine or self-isolation with a house full of family, roommates, or even pets. Sometimes certain circumstances don’t allow us to be picky about our study spaces. However, it’s important to try to make do with what you have available. Try not to use your bed for this. Your brain already associates your bed with sleeping, relaxing, and even watching Netflix. If you try to do schoolwork in it, your brain will have trouble breaking out of that pattern and focusing on being productive. Look for a space that requires you to sit up straight and stay organized. It’s best if you can set up your workspace near your Wi-Fi router so you can stay near a strong Internet connection. However, your workspace should also be somewhere you can be in a quiet environment. Make sure whoever you live with knows not to bother you during your online courses. Give them a copy of your schedule if you need to.

2. Treat your online course the same as an in-person course.

If you are having trouble focusing on your online lectures, you need to start treating them like you would your regular classes. Get up, get dressed, settle in at your dedicated workspace. Create a routine. Now, trust me I know it is very tempting to just roll out of bed but it is easier to stay focused when your brain has a dedicated routine.

3. Eliminate distractions

Distractions have a big impact on your ability to focus and be productive. Put your phone away or on airplane mode. Make your family and friends aware of your schedule. Remember online classes don't equal free-time. Put away everything that you may be working on in your downtime so you don't have to look at it or get tempted.

4. Stay organized

Being organized will help you in more ways than one and it is more than just keeping a clean space (which is very very important). Organization will keep you on track and stop you from looking for items every 15 minutes. I would also strongly suggest keeping a calendar and placing all of your assignments for the semester in the calendar as soon as you receive them.

5. Log into your system daily

If you don't listen to anything I say please please please log into your system every day!!! Information is added daily and missing one day can through you way behind. Remember it is easier to keep up than to catch up!!!

6. Complete your assignments ahead of schedule

This goes back to being organized. Create a schedule that will allow you to stay ahead of your work. Completing your work ahead of time gives you much-needed flexibility.

7. Connect with your classmates

Get in touch with your classmates and set up virtual study groups. This will help you stay connected to your classmates and aid you in staying on top of your lesson.

8. Participate in lecture discussions

Be an active participant in your classes, this will allow you to gain participation points and, aid you in building a relationship with your professor..

9. Make use of proven student habits

This is a tip for any type, of course you are taking. Adapt techniques that will help you memorize information properly and efficiently.

- Active Recall

- Flashcards

- Mnemonic Devices

- Quizlet

10. Take notes

12. Take breaks

13. Always back your work up

There have been so many times where I lost work because I didn't save. Back up your work, it will save you in the long run.

14. Always ask for help

Even though you're taking your courses online, your professors are still there for you. If you're having trouble with something don't hesitate to send them an email or call them. No one will judge you for asking for assistance. Remember we can't help you if we don't know what you need.

As I stated this is a very practical list but if you follow it and add a few things in you will be super successful!!

If you don't remember anything else... remember this. You won't always be motivated, so you must learn to be DISCIPLINED.


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