7 Tips for Taking Classes Online

7 Tips for Taking Classes Online

Being home all day makes it easy for you to feel lazy and to have a harder time staying focused on classes, especially now that they are online.  With the end of the semester quickly approaching, the COVID-19 pandemic brings many unknowns, but there are certain things that can help you finish the year strong.  Follow these tips from ISO to help keep you focused and on track.  Remember that your school still provides student support services online – such as career services, advisors, and your professors’ office hours, as well.

1. Create a Designated Study Space

Staying home all day makes it more challenging to stay focused and motivated.  To help this, it is important to find a space that you use just for schoolwork and taking class.  Whether it is a desk in your room, or a spot in your living room different from where you relax and watch television, make sure it is a space designated to your work.  This way, when you sit in your spot designated for school, your brain knows to focus on class and your work. 

2. Plan Your Days

Asynchronous classes are ones where your professor records and posts on your class page to watch whenever you are available.  As a student in an asynchronous class, you watch pre-recorded lectures, and usually rely on email, discussion boards, and shared documents for assignments and class participation. 

If you have classes with this set up, it is important to create a schedule for yourself.  See how long all the recorded lectures and class materials are and block out time in your day to focus on watching them.  It helps even more if you can keep the times consistent each day, and each week.  Giving yourself designated times makes it seem like you still have class to attend.  This is a benefit for online classes, as you can choose to work on classes at night, or during the day – depending on which you prefer as a student. 

3. Continue to Take Class in Different Time Zones

For synchronous classes, you are required to attend some form of a live virtual classroom, with video conferencing, streaming lectures, and live chatrooms.  Remember to stay muted on your side of the call the make the class experience better for everyone.  It may be harder to be a part of these live classes if you have moved back to your home country, however, depending on your class’s scheduled time and the time difference between the U.S. and your country. 

For international students who have relocated and are experiencing such difficulty, make sure you email your professors and openly communicate with them.  Just because you are in a different country does not mean you should not be able to access your educational experience.  The pandemic is a new experience for everyone, and professors can work with you.  For example, depending on the platform used, live classes are able to be recorded, so professors may be able to upload the recorded live class for you to access at a later time.

4. Learn how to Participate in a New Way

For more information on synchronous or asynchronous classes, click here.  Whichever way your courses are, students must show participation and engagement in a different way, such as posting in an online discussion board for class. Email will be among the primary contact between you and your professor.  Before the outbreak, many students relied on briefly speaking in-person with their professor before or after class, to establish a connection and clarify any questions you may have.  With the inability to do this anymore, email becomes the primary point of contact. 

If you need some extra help or clarification on classwork, send an email to your professor and see if they are available to set up a video conference.  If your class is synchronous, then you and your professor can stay on the call once everyone else leaves the virtual classroom, to be able to discuss your questions.  Remember that professors are still available to meet with you with virtual office hours as well, especially if you are unable to make these synchronous class times. 

5. Treat it as Seriously as Classes on Campus

Having classes online for a few weeks, professors and students have gotten into some sort of routine by now.  After understanding all the technology and settling into the new routine, it is important to remember that what you are doing at home online is to continue the hard work you have started at school at the beginning of this semester.  There are still topics to learn, materials to understand, projects and assignments to complete. 

Professors will expect you to continue the workload you started at the beginning of this semester, so it is important to hold yourself to that same standard.  College and high school students believe classes online are harder than classes on campus, so it is important to check in with yourself weekly in each of your courses.  Make sure that you are not falling behind in work, that you have a plan for the week ahead, and that you reach out to your professor if you need help. 

6. Remove Distractions

The best approach during this time is to stick to your usual routine – get up early, continue to be active, and get dressed for the day.  Being at home all day creates a great amount of time to be spent on social media, watching a new show, or finding a new movie.  These activities are fun, helping to keep you occupied and connected with friends; however, they can distract you from your work.  It is important to understand the amount of schoolwork you have so you can plan how much time you need to dedicate to complete it all.  From there is when you can allow yourself to spend time on social media and watching TV.  For additional ideas on what to do during your free time in quarantine, read more here

7. Remember to Take Care of Yourself

Taking classes online is a completely new experience from what many students are used to, especially international students.  Students come to the United States to not only experience the American education system but to experience the American lifestyle first-hand.  Being quarantined and taking classes from home greatly changes this experience.  By following these tips, however you can continue learning and performing strongly in school.  For more information for the international student community during this time, continue to follow ISO.  For coverage during this pandemic or to continue your insurance plan, feel free to call our customer care team so we can assist you. 

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