Have a question about online support?
How to Be a Successful Online Student at BSU
Created by Dr. Melanie McNaughton
Maintain Strong Communication
Maintain clear communication with your professors, your peers, and the support staff that you will work with throughout your online learning experience. If you do not understand an assignment, or if you’re not sure where to find something, exercise your problem-solving skills and ask for help. Staying connected to others is important.
Online classes are certainly different from the in-class experience. You may be asked to complete a variety of different types of assignments due to being in an online format. You may also find that you should trade old learning strategies for new ones, especially if how you typically study is no longer effective. There are many active learning strategies that are proven to be effective in both in-person and online learning environments! Be open minded about these shifts! On another note, it helps to share a little bit about yourself online, so peers and instructors still get to know you and gain a sense of who you are, even from behind the screen. Be open to sharing some things about yourself, and even a little bit about your online experience. You never know who may learn a thing or two from you.
Develop Self-Motivating Habits
On average, colleges and universities report that online classes may require anywhere from 4 to 20 hours of work per week (depending on your course load). What strategies will you use to hold yourself accountable for your learning? Consider the following: set a schedule, plan on a weekly and semester-long basis, avoid multitasking, and break up your daily study sessions into manageable chunks of time.
Harness your imagination and picture that you're at school and not at home or in your remote environment. This may take some time. Don't be afraid to try out multiple techniques. Here are 5 tips for making the most of – and staying engaged in – video lectures.
Create a Regular Study Space
Consider what kind of environment you study best in and how you might recreate this in your remote learning environment. Try designating a space for your studies, but also feel free to move to a new location depending on the task at hand or remove distracting devices from your study space if they hinder your ability to remain focused. Finally, consider your technology needs. Be mindful of your internet and/or webcam circumstances and if your internet speed or devices are not meeting your needs for success, contact us, we may be able to help you.
Become Detail Oriented
Anything your professor posts in Blackboard is critical information for your progress and success. Become an active participant by remaining detail-oriented and up to date on tasks for your classes.
Find Your Organizing Strategy
Do you write to do lists and enjoy checking off boxes? Set reminders on your mobile devices? Do you keep a planner? There are many strategies for staying organized throughout the semester. Don't be afraid to test a few things out in order to find what works for you.
Technical difficulties happen. Things don't always go as planned; be flexible, be patient, and remember good communication about any issues that arise is key.
Tips for Videoconferencing in the Virtual Classroom
Here are some things you can do a few days before your synchronous classroom session:
- Familiarize yourself with the technology! Will your class meet on Blackboard CollaborateUltra? Zoom? Make sure you are familiar with the technology ahead of time, so that it’s no surprise to you on the day of your class.
- Double check if there is any work to be completed prior to the online session. Build a schedule or a to-do list if that works best for you.
On Class Day
- Find a quiet spot to participate and check the lighting in the room. Pro tip: A room with a few windows helps bring natural light in, and helps to reduce graininess or blur on camera.
- Take at least 10-15 minutes before your online class session to check your microphone and webcam settings. If allowed, try logging on a few minutes before class starts to make sure everything works properly.
- Arrive to class online the way you would arrive to class in-person. This means arriving early or on time and being set up in a space meant to support your focus and engagement.
- Take note during virtual lectures, as you should during in-person lectures. Studies show that taking notes, particularly by hand, builds recall of material and helps to increase test scores. If you are typing notes, remember to listen for cues like, “this is important,” or “this will be on the test,” and try to capture examples of concepts so you can begin to make meaning of the content. Connecting with the DRO&SAS team about note-taker accommodation is important to consider, should this be of value to you.
Practice Clear Communication and Netiquette
- Remember to practice netiquette. The virtual classroom should be a safe space for everyone to share their ideas, questions, and concerns.
- Avoid side conversations, rustling papers, typing, or tapping too closely to the microphone. If you need to step away for any reason, remember to mute your microphone so you don’t disrupt others’ work while you’re away from the keyboard.
- Use the “raise hand” feature and the chat for class participation/question-asking.
- Direct your questions to a specific person in the session so they know you're speaking to them. Expect a few seconds of delay before an answer.
- Avoid echo by muting your microphone until you need to speak.
- Look directly at the camera to make eye contact with others in the session with you.
- Respond to typed discussions with appropriate capitalization, grammar, and punctuation.
- Designate a work/study spot for yourself. Ensure that it's quiet, and conducive to your learning style.
- It's highly recommended that you wear headphones during your real-time virtual class session.
- Check your surroundings to make sure others won't be distracted by anything happening near or behind you during the virtual class and use the features available to blur your background or use a “fake” background if that would be helpful.
- Close distracting apps and tabs. Humans are not as good at multitasking as they think! There are many productivity apps on your phone or computer that have been created to help you stay on task.