For those who have been transitioning to online classes lately, or are yet to do so, we have compiled a few tips for successful distance learning during COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has by now affected the way most things used to be done. People are working remotely, the outside world has become a ‘concept’, and well, higher education continues its duty as classes have transitioned online. The human consequences of the virus should be and are a priority, as the world is adjusting to a new way of life until the pandemic ends.

The novel coronavirus has had quite an impact on higher education in the world. Although most universities have managed to successfully tackle the issue and begin conducting classes online, it is important that students also know how to properly manage online learning, so they do not miss on anything regarding their education. Follow these tips and go ace those online classes!

1. Understand That It Might Feel Overwhelming Initially

If you have not experienced online classes before, it is normal to feel anxious or overwhelmed at first. This is all part of the anxiety that might come with getting out of your comfort zone. It will take time to learn how to manoeuvre through the system and to communicate online. However, it is important to remember that the first step is always the hardest and it will get easier once you get used to the whole concept of online lectures. You will find that you and your friends are all in this together, and your teacher will most likely do everything to make everyone feel comfortable.

2. Start the Semester Right

If you are yet to begin your online semester, make sure you start it right. And by “right” I mean evaluate your syllabus thoroughly, estimate the course load, become familiar with the expectations, organize your schedule and you’re good to go. Begin prepared and prepare to surpass even your own expectations.

3. Learn How to Use Online Tools

Most of you might be introduced to technology or online learning systems you have not used before. It is okay since there’s always a first time for everything. So, do not let this discourage you. Instead, watch tutorials on how to use particular online platforms, read online instructions, start exploring the digital tools you will be using before you start classes. This will give you the confidence you need to manage your online system and it will ensure you will not encounter any disruptions once your class starts.

4. Commit to Your Online Classes

Once you start taking online classes, commit to them fully. Keep in mind that high-quality learning can happen outside of a traditional classroom as well. Be a regular participant and make sure you do not miss out on classes. Online classes are just as important as traditional classes, so commit to them in the same manner. Meet all the requirements, submit your assignments, and simply make sure you make the most of the class for the sake of your own learning.

5. Create Your Study Space

Creating your study space is also important. Be it your own desk, your room, or somewhere else you feel comfortable in, it is important to have a particular space where all your study essentials are. It is usually very easy to get distracted while studying, however, if you decide on a study area in your home and remove all the distractions, you have a better chance of achieving greater results. Keep in mind that an ideal study space would have low-traffic, minimal distractions, and good lighting.

6. Create a Routine and Stay Organized

Organize the schedule and create a routine which you must follow. Just like when you attend classes on campus, attend your online class with the right supplies. You might need notebooks and pens for notes, or textbooks, depending on the class. Simply keep in mind to manage your time and space effectively. Create folders on your laptop for all the assignments, readings, and materials. This way, when everything is organized, your productivity might increase and you will avoid the stress of an unorganized desktop.

7. Do Not Be Afraid to Ask Questions

This has always been a rule in traditional classes. You should never be afraid to ask questions and inquire about anything related to the class. This is also relevant when it comes to online classes. As we mentioned, online classes and traditional classes are equally important, so if there is something you’re confused about, ask the professor. I am sure they would be willing to repeat it for you. Same goes if you’re having any technical difficulties; it is always crucial to speak up and let the instructor know about your issues. It is likely that others might be experiencing the same issue as you.

8. Interact During Your Online Classes

Depending on your personality, you might find interacting during online classes easier in comparison to traditional classrooms. Whatever the case may be, interaction is always important. Interaction, especially in online classes, can be very rewarding. You have the possibility of joining discussion boards, growing your online network, and being part of efficient and productive discussions. Sharing your well-thought insights will always prove to be beneficial.

9. Respect Your Peers and Professors

Being polite and respectful of your peers and instructors should be a given. It is common sense in both traditional classes as well as online classes to be polite. Mutual respect between peers and professors will create a positive and motivational environment where you, and other students, will thrive. You will find that being comfortable within a class will contribute to a successful outcome when it comes to expressing opinions and discussing the assignments openly.

10. Practice What You Learn Along the Way

What is learning worth if you do not remember what you learned? Practising what you learn along the way can prove to be crucial in your understanding of the assignments and upcoming classes. Apply the things you learn as you learn them, take notes, review everything after the class is over. You might even discuss the things you learned with a friend or quiz yourself. It is all pretty necessary in the long-run.

11. Find Ways to Keep Yourself Motivated

Motivation is key! The result of everything you do will be better if you’re motivated to do it. It is normal to feel down or demotivated during this period of time, however, you should remind yourself that this will pass soon, and the classes are for your own good, even though they might be a bit difficult in the beginning. Keep reminding yourself that learning is a virtue, and as much as you learn, the more helpful it will be. Remind yourself that everyone has their bad days, but what is important is not giving up and carrying on until it gets better, because it does get better.

12. Communicate Effectively Through Writing

Depending on the online learning platforms you will be using, you might get to do a lot of written communication. The key to getting your point across is to organize your thoughts well before sending them into a written discussion board or email. You will get to communicate through writing a lot more than you would in a traditional classroom, therefore it is important to avoid any misunderstanding that might be caused by typographical errors or unarranged thoughts.

Tips for Conducting Successful Online Classes for Instructors

The current coronavirus situation, and its impact on higher education, has been challenging for teachers as well. Many were required to conduct online classes with little or no prior experience. So, it is understandable that no one can become an expert overnight. Virtual classes also take a lot of planning, just like traditional classes. Below are a few tips online instructors might find helpful towards conducting successful distance learning.

  • Prepare your learning objectives. Preparing your learning objectives is important in the sense that it helps you properly design a digital-based class. Whether your learning objective is to promote discussion or communicate information, you will find yourself in the middle of various methods of teaching. It is important to get this settled before the class starts.
  • Tell the class your expectations. Although you might have met before during classes, it is crucial that the students are aware of your expectations while you’re teaching online.
  • Let the students know your rules when it comes to interaction, participation, asking questions, and so on.
  • Be inclusive. Just like in a traditional classroom, being inclusive is essential in online classrooms as well. Make sure no one is feeling excluded or uncomfortable. Creating a welcoming environment for your students plays an important role in the success of a class.
  • Be comprehensive. Online classrooms might be a first-time experience for many of your students, therefore it is important that you are concise and get your point across successfully. Make sure you have no issues with your internet connection, audio, or visuals. All these play an important role in transmitting a message.
  • Work together with your students. Let the students know that it is important for you that they understand the information correctly. Be engaging, ask questions, seek feedback from your students. You will find that this will be truly rewarding.
  • Take breaks. Depending on how long your class is, taking short breaks could be effective and very welcome amid students and yourself. The current situation in the world can cause students to feel anxious, so it is important that you allow short breaks to move around, drink water, or see natural light. It will likely benefit both you and your students.