• Being an introvert in the online world

    by Justin Tate

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    With so many students transitioning from campus education to online education, I’m reminded of my own experience. Shortly after finishing an in-person undergraduate program I entered my career and realized that the only way to pursue a master’s degree would be to complete it fully online.

    Embarking on a new adventure is always a little scary. But I think it hit me — a self-identified introvert — more than some of my peers. I’m not a spontaneous person and it takes a long time for me to warm up to change. To be honest, it wasn’t until senior year that I felt like I understood how to take notes properly and do well at the collegiate level. Now I had to learn how to be a student all over again? Yikes!

    As it turned out — like most things turn out — the change wasn’t that bad. Yes, there was a transition period and I made a few rookie mistakes along the way, but soon I discovered that there’s a lot to love about online education: as a scholar, someone juggling many obligations, and as an introvert.

    Now I wouldn’t have it any other way. Here’s some of the best tips, tricks, and self-assurances I can give to students going on a similar journey.

    Participation

    Despite being a good student, I always lost “participation points” in my on-campus classes. And I knew exactly why.

    With a classroom full of peers staring me down, I was too shy to raise my hand and engage with the lecture. In the rare instance where I wanted to, my extroverted classmates sucked up the energy and left no time for the timid. When I did manage to be brave, whatever brilliant thought I had seemed to always come out as blubbering nonsense when spoken aloud.

    Online participation is totally different, and totally my jam. I love having the ability to proofread my thoughts, edit them clearly, and possibly throw in a splash of research before submitting. I feel more comfortable diving into the curriculum knowing that I’m not in the spotlight. At the same time, no one is in the shadows either. Extroverts and introverts are given the same opportunity to contribute, adding more voices to the discussion and more ways to learn from each other.

    Though there are some things I miss about meeting on campus — such as catching up with my friends before class — the one thing I never, ever miss is in-person participation.

    Time management

    Another great thing about distance learning is flexibility. Gone are the days of set class times, juggling life around a Tetris-like schedule, and waking up before dawn to avoid a fight over decent parking. Want to watch a lecture at midnight instead of 2:30 on Tuesday? No problem. Need to cover someone’s shift? Easily adjusted. When and how you study is totally up to you, just as long as you can still meet the assignment deadlines.

    With that said, the biggest challenge of online education is also flexibility. Without those set class times, coming up with a time management strategy is your responsibility. And it’s easy to procrastinate. Can I binge this TV show? Well sure, I’ll just do my homework at three in the morning. No problem.

    Surprise, surprise, it can be a problem. The best advice I can give to online learners is to come up with a study strategy as early as possible. Most programs require at least 15-20 hours a week of study time and finding gaps in your calendar for those hours should be a big priority.

    When possible, use mind games to trick yourself. I set alarms on my phone every night as a reminder to study. I used TV shows and video games as rewards for finishing projects early. Checklists became my best friend. It took me a while to realize that small goals worked best. Here’s an actual checklist I found from one of my classes:

    • Read first paragraph of chapter 5
    • Write 100 words on week 2 discussion
    • Read description of week 5 essay
    • Think about essay/Come up with 1 idea

    The secret of small goals is that they’re much easier to actually make progress on. Completing the task of reading one paragraph is a lot more doable than reading 50 pages. Writing 100 words is more realistic than writing five pages. Yet all progress is progress and having small goals every night is the best way to prevent cramming before something is due. Also, you may be surprised to find that when you set out to read a single paragraph you will inevitably end up going much further.

    Every student has their own tricks and techniques they use to stay motivated and meet deadlines. Online students are no different, but because the flexibility makes procrastination easier, it’s a good idea to plan on using all your best strategies every week, if not every day.

    Meeting with the instructor

    In online education, there’s an increased hesitancy for students to set appointments with their instructor. This is something I noticed from personal experience and something I’ve struggled with as an introvert all my life. It’s not that I don’t value having a substantial conversation with faculty; it’s that I get nervous asking for one-on-one support.

    On campus it feels slightly less awkward to set up face-to-face time. Instructors typically list their office hours clearly in the syllabus, and the location of their physical office where it’s possible to drop by and ask questions.

    In the online world, I was so used to email communication that it never occurred to me to set up voice-to-voice communication. I remember thinking that such a request might come across pushy. I figured a lack of personal connection was just a downside to learning online.

    None of that is true, of course. Online students are encouraged to have just as much access to their instructors as campus students. In many ways, it’s easier to connect online thanks to the variety of options (phone, chat, video conference).

    Once I discovered that I could talk through complicated questions with my professors, my entire experience changed. I not only gained clarity on assignments, I developed personal connections that lead to increased learning and even letters of recommendation down the road.

    I know how challenging it can be to find the courage to set up appointments like that, but I promise it’s worth it. Next time you’re drafting a long email to your instructor, stop and ask if your question can be better addressed through conversation. If so, consider sending a much shorter email like this:

    Dear Instructor,

    I have several questions about the recent homework. When possible, can we set up a time to talk through the specifics?

    Best regards,
    Justin

    Overall

    Yes, online education is different — but different doesn’t have to be scary. It took me a minute to reach that conclusion — okay, maybe longer than a minute — but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. Whether it’s temporary or permanent, I hope these lessons learned from my experience help make your online transition super smooth.

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  • Being proactive, present, and purposeful as an online student

    by Lexy Moscinski

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    You find yourself sitting in the comfort of your home, your laptop resting in front of you. You pull up your online class and are presented with dozens of pieces of information. Thoughts race through your mind — “Where do I even begin? This is all so new…”

    Click here to see the syllabus! Click here to watch this lecture! Check out your homework here via this link!

    If you’ve never done online learning before, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of information presented to you. While you may feel like you are “on your own”, your connection to this virtual world will be based on both your efforts and your actions. Here are 13 tips to help you make the transition to online courses.

    Be proactive

    You may not be able to raise your hand to ask questions like you did when you were in a physical classroom, but in your new online world, you’ll still have many digital resources to stay ahead of the game. Make sure you’re utilizing them.

    1. Take time to click through your online course. What helpful things are being offered? Online tutoring? Writing center access?
    2. Start making a list of all the resources offered to you and keep it at your desk to refer to later.
    3. Review the syllabus thoroughly and note any questions you may have about the information provided. Review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section of your class if one is provided, and if you have unanswered questions, reach out to the professor.
    4. Develop a personal calendar based off the syllabus deadlines so you can organize yourself effectively. You can use Google Calendar, Outlook, and more. You can also integrate personal dates on the calendar to see how your educational obligations match with your personal ones.
    5. Make sure you have a quiet, organized place to do your work — whether that’s an office at home or a library.

    Be present

    Your classroom life may now be behind a screen, but that doesn’t mean you can’t breathe life into every session you attend.

    1. Pay attention to when live lectures are offered. If they’re optional, still do your best to attend them — it will help you feel like you never left your physical classroom.
    2. Be active on discussion boards: This is a great way to start networking with other classmates and stay connected. Introduce yourself if you haven’t already, bounce questions off each other to be supportive, and take note of any helpful tips from your professor.
    3. Go to your professor’s virtual office hours, or give them a call if a number is provided. Sometimes students function better when they can put a face and voice to the person teaching them — make it a point to not just be another name on the class roster. Work to build a relationship with your professor by communicating with them often.
    4. Set up your own virtual meet-up sessions with other students. You can do this through Zoom, or whichever virtual meeting platform your classroom uses. Try sending out an email to your class to see if you can get some of your peers together to discuss how things are going and to support each other along the way.

    Be purposeful

    Being in a virtual classroom doesn’t mean you’re being let off easy! You must be purposeful, accountable, and self-motivated to be successful in an online world.

    1. Minimize distractions: When you are setting yourself up for study time, make sure the TV is off, your phone is put away (preferably in another room), and tell your family that it’s your study time and not to interrupt you unless they need to. If you’re studying in a public setting, such as a library, make sure you’re in a “no talking” zone, or rent a private room.
    2. Schedule break times because it can be very easy to get sucked into your work. Make sure you set a timer. Having a 15-minute break every hour can do wonders for your mental health and can help you absorb the material better.
    3. Make it fun: Listen to some study music in the background as you tackle assignments (if it helps you focus), ask a friend or family member to quiz you on your notes to facilitate some personal contact, and make sure you’re comfortable and have healthy snacks to keep your energy up.
    4. Take your work seriously — you may not be in a physical classroom, but you should act as if you are when you begin every study session. It’s up to you to take responsibility for your work and to appreciate the knowledge being given to you!

    While transitioning to an online format can be intimidating at first, you will have many resources to ensure your success. Take your time to get adjusted but remember that you are not alone in your academic pursuits — reach out when you need support, set up virtual group meetings, attend office hours, grab a cup of coffee, and get ready to reach your goals! Best of luck!

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  • The importance of community in online learning

    by Jaylen Brown

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    University of Central Florida student Jaylen Brown didn’t expect his Spring break to last for more than a few days. Once school was cancelled, he soon realized the impact went beyond just books and classes and impacted the social and community aspects of education. Hear his unique perspective on peer reactions, dealing with the abrupt transition to online learning, and the importance of staying positive in an uncertain time.

    Tell us a little bit about yourself

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    What is the sentiment from your friends?

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    How are your courses changing?

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    What tools are you using to help you get through the rest of the semester?

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    What is your advice for other students?

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  • Coping with changes to a disrupted semester

    by Delaney Henson

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    University of Louisville student Delaney Henson shares her unique perspective on the recent disruption in education, including peer reactions, the changes to her courses, and general advice on coping with the uncertainty.

    While she feels “pretty prepared” for online learning, she also balances that with the amount of self-motivation and teamwork it will take to make this new learning environment a success.

    Tell us a little bit about yourself

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    What is happening on your campus and how has that affected you?

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    What is the sentiment from your peers/friends?

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    How are your courses changing?

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    What tools are you using to help you get through the rest of the semester?

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    What is your advice for other students?

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  • Staying healthy - body and mind - during a crisis

    by Patricia Macalalag

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    As a Physiological Science major and Global Health minor, UCLA junior Patricia Macalalag has a unique perspective on the worries of students and faculty in such a densely populated campus and city. Hear her thoughts on the rapid changes to teaching and learning, and how her areas of study shape her concerns during this current upheaval in education and society.

    What is happening on your campus and how has that affected you?

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    How are your courses changing?

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    What tools are you using to help you get through the rest of the semester?

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    What is your advice for other students?

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  • 5 tips to keep motivated when learning online

    by Dan Belenky

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    As we’re all learning very quickly, learning online is different from traditional learning. It can feel harder to stay engaged, especially the longer we stay in social isolation. These 5 tips can help keep you motivated and on track for success.

    1. Keep up the connections

    Online learning can often feel isolating, so efforts to feel like part of a learning community can help. Complete your online profile with a photo and your interests. Reach out to other students on discussion boards, and keep conversations going via email, video call or messaging apps. Your instructor is also a resource; it may seem intimidating to email them, but your instructor is there to help.

    2. Take control of your own learning

    Some aspects of online learning are requirements, like making sure to keep up with your reading or doing quizzes. But you often have a good deal of autonomy in other ways, like in how you respond to discussion boards, or managing larger projects. Since you have more say in those, find ways to connect them to your own interests and goals!

    3. Set good goals

    When you think about what you want out of your class, what kind of ideas come to mind? For most of us, the first response will be somewhat vague like “get a good grade” or “make progress on my career plan.” Research has found that more concrete goals can help increase motivation and persistence, so consider getting more specific, like “I want to get at least a 92%” or “I want to improve my communication skills by creating effective class presentations.”

    4. Help yourself stay on track

    It can help to get specific about how you will deal with obstacles in your way. Spend some time thinking about things that might make it difficult to stick to your goals, and then come up with some concrete plans for how you will deal with those (e.g., “If I see a notification that my friend is playing a game I could jump into, I will turn off notifications for the next 2 hours and go back to studying.”)

    Planning these “if → then” kinds of rules ahead of time has been found to be really effective for helping people stick to their goals. If you fall behind, don’t be too hard on yourself. Change is challenging for everyone, but it is not too late. Get in touch with your instructor and make a plan for catching up.

    5. Establish productive routines

    One of the benefits of online learning is the flexibility it allows – in many cases, you are free to log on whenever it is convenient to do your coursework. However, this freedom can be a double-edged sword. Be realistic about your time – maybe you have to balance study around childcare now – and set up a consistent schedule that works for you.

    Make sure those in your household are aware of it: sharing a commitment with someone else makes it more likely that you will follow through. Resist just trying to cram your online learning in when you can, or while you are multitasking.

     

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  • My professor moved our classes online. Now what?

    by Kristen DiCerbo, Ph.D.

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    Colleges and universities across the country are halting study abroad programs, asking students to leave their dorms, and cancelling in-person classes, telling professors to move them online. It’s leaving thousands of students figuring out how to continue their semester remotely.

    You probably aren’t totally new to online learning, but this may be the first that it’s truly full time. Here is some helpful advice to make the transition a little easier:

    Set a schedule to manage your time

    You may find you have more flexibility now, but time management is the biggest factor affecting your success learning remotely. Figure out the amount of time you need to set aside for attending online class and studying each week. Keep a planner that plots out the times you should be online, when you’re studying and when your assignments are due. Don’t forget to schedule time to disconnect and be social (or at least as social as we all can be right now).

    Try new ways of learning

    Without sitting in class and taking notes, how do you commit things to memory? We have four study tips based on science to help:

    1. Study often. It’s like the idea of keeping something fresh in your mind by thinking of it every so often. And start this right away.
    2. But you don’t need to spend a lot of time studying. You can study in little chunks, like 15-20 minutes.
    3. Close your laptop and quiz yourself about what you were reading. Making yourself recall something, rather than re-reading it or even doing a multiple choice problem is better for learning. Think of it as strengthening the muscle that pulls the information from your memory.
    4. Connect the concepts you are studying to your real life or other things you know. If you make it meaningful it’ll stick with you longer. (Public health students are all set on this one.)

    Carve out a good study environment

    Sounds obvious, right? But, you’re probably going to be at home a lot now with other people, who also may have to study or work there too. Negotiate with your roommates, family members or pets to secure a distraction-free place to focus.

    Passive aggressive notes aren’t recommended, but a sticky note on the back of your laptop will let people know that you’re learning without interrupting you. You’re probably going to need to listen to audio, so make sure it is fairly quiet and grab your headphones. Experiment with white noise and music without words to help you block noise.

    Participation counts

    It takes more effort to socialize, collaborate and communicate in a new online environment than in your familiar classroom. The more you contribute and share ideas with others in your online class, the more likely you are to succeed.

    Be willing to speak up if problems arise

    Your professors and classmates are struggling to figure out the new normal too and speaking up will only help everyone. We’re all in this together.

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  • Utilizing Pearson's eTextbook Tools: Tips for Success

    by Stephanie Carrea

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    The age of digital learning is here to stay and is quickly advancing. For some of us, learning online can feel like a challenge. Luckily, if you are feeling frustrated with your online textbook, chances are you haven’t learned how to utilize the tools and advantages that it has to offer. One of the perks of Pearson e-textbook tools is the ability to be interactive with the material. From practice quizzes to note taking tools, there are plenty of ways to mix up your study options. 

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  • Going the distance: How to excel in online classes

    by Sarah Hill

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    Distance learning, or online education, is a great opportunity that provides students the ability to learn in a flexible environment and exercise self-discipline. Whether you’re taking one virtual class this semester or earning your degree completely online, here are some tips to help you excel in this type of course.

    Tip 1: Get up and get dressed

    One of the appealing things about online classes is being able to stay in your pajamas all day! As wonderful as it is to be cozy, try to get up and get dressed like you would if you were going to campus for class. Your bed isn’t the most conducive learning environment, since it is associated with rest and relaxation rather than hard work and hustle. Getting yourself ready and doing work at a desk, in the library, or at your favorite coffee shop will make you feel like your online class is more legitimate, and will make you want to put in the effort!

    Tip 2: Make an impression

    When you are enrolled in an online course, it’s easy to hide behind the computer screen and profile picture. Make yourself stand out by creating a relationship with your professor! You could set up a phone call appointment. Reaching out however you can is guaranteed to impress your professor and signal your commitment to learning. Who knows, they might even help you get internships or jobs in the future! A 5 to 10 minute chat could lead to a lifetime of referrals and network connections.

    Tip 3: Utilize campus resources

    Online students are students, after all! If you are near the campus offering your online courses, don’t be afraid to use all the wonderful resources offered there. Having trouble writing that paper? Contact the Writing Center! Struggling with those math problems? Try seeking help from tutors or during your professor’s office hours. Don’t be scared or hesitate to capitalize on all the perks of being a college student. Being connected to the campus – even virtually – can enrich your experience and help you create great memories.

    Tip 4: Manage your time

    It’s easy to get carried away with the freedom that comes as a perk to online courses. In order to be successful, you must exercise self-discipline and time management skills. My advice: treat your school like a 9-5 job (assuming you don’t already have one). Setting up certain periods of time to be productive can help you avoid furiously typing a paper to meet that 11:59 pm deadline.

    Technology has made online learning available to all kinds of students. However, keep in mind that online learning isn’t for everyone, and that’s perfectly okay! Give it a try and see how you adjust to the new setting.

     

     

     

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