Life as we know it has changed in the past few weeks. The threat of the Coronavirus brought a lot of change in a very short amount of time and now we’re all left navigating uncharted waters together. Some of us lost our source of income, our favorite hangouts, and now many of us are navigating a change in our education. Like many of you, I spent a lot of my day in the classroom having discussions, giving presentations, and connecting with my instructors and classmates. Now, all my courses are online until the end of the semester.
Taking classes online, particularly when you didn’t have a chance to prepare for them, can be challenging and frustrating. However, there are a few ways to make things more manageable for yourself.
Get Comfortable with the Uncomfortable
Look…things have been pretty rocky for the past few weeks. Many instructors have had to suddenly figure out how to upload an entire semester’s worth of classes online in a few days. For a lot of us, completely online courses are not our preferred method of learning. Before you do anything else, take a deep breath and recognize that this probably won’t be the smoothest transition. Videos won’t stream perfectly, instructor feedback might not come quickly, you might not know how to use the new online software, etc. It’s ok. We are all in this together and learning as we go. The best thing we can do is just accept it’s going to be awkward at times and do your best to get the work done.
Check Your Email & School Website Daily
One of the most important things about being online is checking for new emails and notifications about class.
- Checking your school email and LMS (Moodle, Blackboard, Canvas, D2L, etc.)
- Does your class have any online discussion tools or required discussion board assignments? Make sure to utilize these resources to remain informed. If you have discussion board assignments, make sure to check in on those frequently.
- Highlight all the important due dates for your assignments – are they still accurate?
- Check-in with your professor(s) via email or video chat. See if there’s any new information from the school or about your class/assignments.
Stick to a Schedule
A schedule and routine are key. For many, going to class on campus was the routine you were used to and now everything has gone sideways.
- Start by outlining a schedule of all your classes and the key assignments that are due from now until the end of the term. Include every type of activity – big and small – so you can see just what you need to accomplish.
- Pick a daily routine. This means to set a time when you’ll get up, showered, eat breakfast, etc. Block off in your calendar specific daylight hours to doing classwork.
- Stick to your schedule. This can’t be over-emphasized enough. Plan your day and then force yourself to do it. Go to a quiet room, don’t turn on the TV, and put your phone on silent if you have to.
- Take breaks. Look, no one can work effectively 8 hours straight. You need to take breaks to avoid getting burnt out. So, schedule them! Take a lunch break, take a 15-minute catch-up the news break, call a friend just to chat, etc. As long as you account for your time and get back to your schedule, then breaks can be incredibly productive and helpful.
Get in Touch with Your Classmates
One silver lining in all of this is that we live in a time where it’s easy to connect with each other. Even if you haven’t previously talked to or become friends with your fellow classmates before, this is a great and easy opportunity to reach out. After all, we’re all stuck inside…who doesn’t have a few minutes to spare?
- If you know them well enough, email/txt them directly or find them on Facebook.
- If you’re less familiar with them, try contacting them through your school LMS or online software program.
- You can also ask your instructor to email introduce you to some students who are working on similar assignments or projects.
You may not be interacting in a traditional classroom setting, but it’s pretty easy to reach out to someone in your class and double-check details of an assignment or ask for their opinion instead of going to your instructor. Aside from having people to virtually study with, keeping in touch with your classmates will help you feel less alone during this time.
We’re in pretty unprecedented waters and with everything changing so fast, suddenly learning everything online can seem a little overwhelming. It’s ok. Take a deep breath. Remember, while it might be tricky to figure out everything you need in your new online class, there are people (professors, classmates, etc.) here to help. We’re all in this together.