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Auntie Says… Ten Steps For Taking Online Classes

There are a lot of different type of learners and each has to find their own way to discover tools and tricks to learn, retain information, and ultimately succeed. Some old school learners prefer visual cues like calendars and highlighters while others prefer online syncing of devices and digital resources.

No matter what you chose there’s a way to learn, but ultimately it’s up to you. This September many, if not all, universities and colleges are returning to a virtual classroom and for students this is either a very good thing or a huge challenge they’re facing.

My son is entering his second year of a Bachelor of Arts program and they’ve already been told that the first semester (September to December 2020) will be held online. After?–we don’t know.

The online learning creates a lot of anxiety for some students who feel they learn better when in a solid, structured learning environment. Unfortunately, with the global pandemic and the current situation there doesn’t seem to be any choice at this time.

Learning online is like going it alone. You need to be prepared for success and make it happen.

In this post I’ve offered up many ideas and resources that can be used. I’ll list a few more at the end too. But–you need to use them and not get bogged down in the overwhelming quagmire of procrastination and complacency. You CAN and MUST move forward. You will not succeed by ignoring the task at hand–so step up and set yourself up for success.

Mark Twain, American novelist, journalist, and humorist had a knack for sharing wisdom.

Read this quote from Twain. Reread it. It may be your saving grace. Let’s break it down into manageable chunks.

Believe and you will succeed.

First:

Pin up a copy or list all your classes and post it near your work station where you can see the it easily.

  1. English 2. Biology 3. Philosophy 4. Statistics 5. Anthropology ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

It’s very important the list be where you can see it easily and not buried under a pile or books or stuffed into a pocket in your backpack.

Seeing the class list with all the other information you’ll add is imperative to breaking down large immeasurable tasks into smaller more manageable ones. There needs to be organization which can bring about a calmness and sense of control. You’ll be able to identify things quickly and easily because it’s right in front of you.

If you want to get fancy, you can color code each class or requirement. Whatever helps you break down the entirety of the class and requirements.

Don’t skip this step or think it’s old fashioned to use paper and pen. It’s important. Trust me. Also know, there are alternatives with electronics…the key is **doing** it.

Second:

Any time an assignment is givenwrite it physically on the list below the class title–OR enter it on an electronic tracker that you can sync with your phone and computer.

As soon as you know you have a quiz you note it under the class and get it on your calendar–either electronic or paper (or both).

This is about have some form of tracking and visual cue of what needs to be done. Believe me, out of sight–out of mind is a real thing and you really need to have the visual or electronic poke to keep your head in the game.

Check out SchoolTraq which is an academic planner and tracker. It may help.

The thing is that it’s important to be constantly reminded of each assignment. Nothing is too small. A quiz, a reading assignment–whatever. List it and the date and then get it done.

Third:

Keep your calendar up to date.

The above list acts as a constant visual reminder to get it done but your phone calendar and reminders can be used to assist.

This needs to be a commitment made by you to constantly check and update.

Whether things are done, overdue, or pending is your responsibility to know. There is absolutely no reason why you should miss an assignment or deadline–none.

Use the online sites that are mentioned here to keep track. There are no excuses.

Four:

DO ALL THE READINGS.

Such a huge part of learning and absorbing information is reading. Don’t avoid it. Use highlighters as necessary and make your notes. This is NOT a step to miss.

The Prof has assigned specific text books for the class. They’re a tool to your learning. USE THEM. Even if the teacher doesn’t say read pages 1-50….take a look anyway. That’s call taking responsibility for your own learning.

Make notes. Jot down questions or things you don’t understand. Discuss during tutorials or class time if given the opportunity. This shows some initiative and interest in learning.

With online learning and not seeing or speaking to the prof everyday then you may need to err on the side of doing a bit more. It’s okay…you can do it.

The whole studying thing with reading and making notes can be tedious and seemingly never-ending. Use tools like your calendar but also another site to assist is Udemy which isn’t so much about tools but about resources to assist you in your studies. For example: if you’re studying Japanese there are many sites to help–many you have to pay for but there are also free options.

Five:

“Attend” all online instruction and make notes during the lecture.

This is also a very important step so you don’t miss any instructions given personally from the Prof. Whether on Zoom or some other platform…you must be there.

Make a note of the professors contact information. You should have the email and website at minimum. Ask if assignments/readings/due dates etc. are lsited. It’s important you reach out if you have questions or concerns. This is not a time for allowing social anxiety or shyness to get in the way. This is your future we’re talking about. Put on your big boy/girl hat and just frikken do it.

In addition to making proper notes you also need to move your study locales to different locations so you don’t associate back to just one place. Does that make sense? Change up your place of study to keep yourself and your brain fresh. Use this trick to train your brain to retain information from all different locations.

Learning and studying is only part of the University/College experience. You’re there to grow academically but also personally. This chart “What Smart Students Know” is a reminder of your responsibility to challenge yourself outside of your comfort zone and empower yourself.

GO FORTH AND CONQUER!! I BELIEVE IN YOU! DO YOU?

Along with accepting your responsibility in the learning process, it makes a big difference when you write things down and/or speak them aloud.

Note taking is important and personal. You’ll find your own style and way but the above diagram is a great example of mind mapping…Taking a main concept and branching off to other avenues that relate.

Check out GoConqr for great tools, ideas, and encouragement for developing and sharing mind-maps, quizzes, flow charts, notes, and more.

If you’re studying for a quiz or learning a language… Use your voice. It will assist in the recalling of information when you go to write it down or repeat it. It allows your brain to not only see the answer but hear it….powerful!

Six:

Will there be tutorials? or labs?

Ensure you know where and the institutions rules involving social distancing etc. Keep a mask in your backpack for when you’re around the campus. Some places may have different health requirements–be prepared.

Try and connect with someone in the labs so you can not only get to know each other but also discuss the material, study together, and figure out issues.

This is so important because the classroom/student contact is so limited. When given the chance to connect with others students in your class or lab–do it.

Seven:

Make use of the University library and librarian.

He or She is a wealth of information and will be able to assist in finding whatever you need.

The library may also be a place to get out of your room and meet with other students.

You can social distance in a responsible way with tables or chairs. Be smart.

Use any and every resource available.

Eight:

Go back and review the quote.

You want to take each course and break it down into easy-to-deal with chunks. Make sure you’re aware of all lectures, deadlines, readings, online prof sites, study groups….and do your reading.

To help you with this you can use online tools like StudyBlue.com This particular site is very helpful in assisting you with flashcards, work-sheets, and quizzes. Hundreds of countries are listed and within that there are hundreds of individual colleges and universities. Very helpful.

Don’t allow yourself to fall behind by being overwhelmed. Remember you’ll have it all written out in an obvious place to see and be constantly aware of what needs to be done.

You can succeed. I know you will succeed. Each class will become easier when broken into smaller tasks. Think the sum of the small parts all adding up to the big picture. It will happen.

Nine:

With each course you’ll check off things that are completed.

This will not only give you a sense of accomplishment but also a record keeping of YES it’s done.

The more organized you can be with each class–the better.

Ten:

Make sure you hand things in on time to receive full marks.

Even if you’re not sure it’s correct or what the prof wants, it’s better to get partial marks than none at all.

The difference between an B and an A could be one or two marks. Those marks could be something you failed to hand in. That’s unacceptable and you know it.

Time to pick yourself up and make sure every single assignment is submitted.

Learning online, or otherwise, means it’s up to you. You are the one who needs to check-in and step-up to get the work done.

It’s not going to be easy. The challenges will be many but being organized and breaking things into manageable tasks will allow you to avoid that feeling of being overwhelmed and behind the 8-ball.

I know you can do. At this point you have no choice.

It is my hope that all schools and universities will soon return to normal functions to allow the social aspect to re-flourish. The college/university experience is one of connection with fellow learners and that doesn’t happen when everyone’s online–I hope it changes soon.

I’ll be thinking of you all as you take the next step towards independence and higher-learning. Good luck. Remember to use all the resources at your finger tips…It doesn’t cost anything and could be the difference between getting it done or not.


Just Some Bonus Thoughts…

Here are a couple more sites that you may find useful.

Quizlet is a site with learning tools. It’s free to use and very popular.

Don’t forget about Evernote to do note taking, sharing, and lists etc.

And, I’ll tell you–when you’re studying turn off your social media and other distractions. You can use an app Cold Turkey if you must, but you can also take control and just turn off all notifications.

Remember to take breaks–schedule them if necessary. Eat healthy at least 75% of the time and get lots of healthy rejuvenating sleep. Go for a walk, have a bubble bath, or stretch your legs–take care of you.


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5 thoughts on “Auntie Says… Ten Steps For Taking Online Classes”

  1. Excellent advice! One more thought: On your wall, post up an old-fashioned large-squares calendar, covering all the months of the term. Post all your assignments, quizzes, etc. on it. Every morning (or every evening), take an “overall” look at not just today but for the next couple weeks. Seeing the “big picture” on a regular basis makes a huge difference in making sure everything is completed on time 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! I so agree. Make it visual and visible. This is so important to be a constant reminder of what needs to be done and where you are in the semester.
      Did you check out any of the sites for learning? They’re really good. My kid said he liked the electronic ones better and didn’t understand the “paper calendar”….lol…

      Like

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