In a time where all we hear about is quarantine, social distancing, sanitizing, and COVID-19, it can be hard to focus on much else. Being surrounded by so much uncertainty has made it increasingly difficult to remain productive. Now that school is back in session, everybody could benefit from a few tips to ensure that we stay engaged in all of our classes. Remote learning is not as easy as it looks, and it is important to always put in as much effort as you would if the lectures were in-person. Here are a few helpful ways to make sure you are engaged and getting the most out of your online classes this semester.
The first – and possibly most important – tip is to eliminate all possible distractions during your class time or homework and studying time. While taking classes from your bedroom, kitchen, backyard, or wherever you may be, it can be very hard to get distracted or sidetracked by any number of things. A good rule of thumb is, if you wouldn’t do it in an in-person lecture, you probably shouldn’t do it while learning remotely. For example, a snack is totally fine, but it may be hard to hear your professor over a three course meal. Another example, though this may be difficult, set your phone aside for the entirety of the lesson and you’ll see how much more you are engaging with the course material! If possible, it definitely helps to have a clear area, separate from where you eat or sleep, to learn remotely.
Another great way to make sure you remain engaged is by going to office hours, even if they’re virtual, and being attentive during the entirety of your online lecture. This will make you stand out, and your professor will view you as a student who genuinely cares about their class, as opposed to those who make little or no effort just because “it’s an online class.” The professor put a lot of effort into preparing the course for you, so make sure you consider that (and I’ll remind you that participation is probably still a category on your grading rubric, so this should help with that too)!
This next tip can definitely be difficult for some of the quieter students here, but it is incredibly important to speak up during class time. Don’t be afraid to ask the professor questions or to comment on a classmate’s point. This will eventually get easier to do, and you will see that asking questions isn’t so scary after all! Most likely, if something is unclear or confusing, other students will have similar questions, so it always helps to clarify. This will improve your understanding, your professor’s perception of you as a student, and I’m sure your classmates will also appreciate your willingness to ask what they’re all wondering.
As far as interacting with your classmates, it can definitely seem difficult to meet friends through a computer screen. But who knows, if you take the chance and follow some of them on social media, you could end up finding a homework buddy or forming a lasting friendship! If nothing else, you’ll have someone to message when it’s the night before an assignment is due and you have those last-minute questions. It always helps to go through it together.
In order to stay engaged with all your classes, it is necessary to keep up with due dates, assignments, and exams. This is made more difficult without a professor writing it on the board or announcing it right in front of you, so keep these tips in mind. Using a planner can keep all of your due dates, assignments, and projects in check, as well as remind you which days your synchronous classes meet online. In addition, it can help to turn on notifications for emails or whichever site your school uses to post assignments, lectures, or links. This way, it will be easy to keep track of approaching assignments or deadlines.
At the end of the day, the only thing that can successfully get you through remote learning is you. The most important thing to remember is that if you don’t take care of yourself, your schoolwork will suffer, too. These circumstances are unprecedented and we are all just trying to make it through while we wait for a return to normalcy. When you feel overwhelmed, practice self-care and remember that we’re all in this together. I wish you the best of luck in your remote learning and I hope these tips will help you have a successful semester!