Key advantages of online learning are flexibility and convenience. But virtual courses can also present unique challenges. Here are five tips from GGU faculty and students to help you excel in your online classes.
These days, remote learning offers the flexibility and convenience that allows students to stay safe and healthy while balancing school with work and family commitments. But staying organized, motivated, and engaged in a virtual environment can be challenging, especially during COVID-19.
GGU offers a range of online learning experiences including Zoom-enabled, synchronous (real time) courses as well as asynchronous courses, which are courses that don’t require logging on at specific times. Our synchronous courses provide video interaction with students and instructors. Asynchronous classes take place on eLearning platforms like Moodle that enable students to interact through discussion boards and pre-recorded videos on their own time.
Whichever format you choose, here are five tips from GGU faculty and students to help you thrive in your remote courses.
Organize Your Time
Online learning provides the flexibility to participate in classes on your own schedule, but that flexibility can lead to procrastination.
“Read the syllabus carefully at the beginning of the term and review the course schedule, assignments, and due dates,” advises Nate Hinerman, associate professor and department chair of the undergraduate Psychology program. “It’s a good idea to map out the deliverables for each week on your calendar and block out time to complete your work.”
Make the Most of Online Discussions
In an online course, discussion forums may be the only regular interaction you have with other students outside of group assignments or email exchanges. This can be an adjustment, but forums provide meaningful opportunities for richer discussion that allow you to spend time crafting responses to written comments.
“Carve out a dedicated amount of time each day to log in and comment on forum discussions,” recommends Marcia Ruben, chair of the Management department and program director of the MS Leadership. Planning ahead will allow you to take advantage of rich discussions and share your ideas and experiences with classmates.
Outside of forums, seize every opportunity to participate in discussions.
“The Intro to Business and Data Analytics class helped me to become more confident in classroom speaking,” reflects Aaliyah Sibanda, a high school student who enrolled in an undergraduate course. “In the Zoom environment, it can be more challenging to raise your hand and see everyone’s faces. I tried to raise my hand more to contribute to the discussion and hopefully encourage my peers to speak. I appreciate being more confident to say something and share an idea.”
Use It Or Lose It
One challenge you may face is retaining course content. Finding a way to apply the concepts you learn can help you make the most of course materials.
“By virtue of the course design, you should be presented with various opportunities to apply the content and topics,” said Nate Hinerman. “It may be helpful for you to reinforce that knowledge by applying it in different ways. For example, try relating the content to scenarios outside of the course. Assigned discussion forums and open forums are a great way to share your experience with your colleagues and instructors.”
Connect With Fellow Students
Without regular check-ins with instructors or peers, motivation can be challenging to maintain. Connecting with other students will sustain your motivation, grow ideas, and enhance the virtual classroom. Adhere to a strict schedule and contribute to forums. Or, you might form an informal study group using external tools or social networking sites.
“If possible, connect with others in the class and meet via text, or even by a video-enabled technology. During COVID, we need to connect with others more than ever,” comments Marcia Ruben.
Reach Out to Instructors
Your instructors love feedback. If you are engaged in an activity that works well, let your instructor know. By the same token if you think something is not working, let them know that as well. Your feedback throughout the course is valuable as your ideas will be fresh. End-of-course surveys are also important though they might not reflect the nuance of an email or comment made in the moment.
“My advice is don’t be afraid to reach out to professors to chat,” suggests Dan Weiss, MS Financial Planning 2020. “They love to do it, and it makes the process more engaging. Make the most of it.”