More students are taking online classes than ever before due to COVID-19. Some campuses, including Harvard, will only be offering online classes. And even if your campus is offering face-to-face instruction, you may decide to stay safe and take online classes instead.
What can you do to prepare for online classes in the fall? We’ve put together the ultimate guide to get you ready.
Practice with the New Tech
Reliable internet is essential when taking online classes. Many internet providers are currently offering student discounts or even free internet to those who can’t afford internet but need to take their courses online.
You’ll probably need to use new apps and technology for online classes. This includes apps such as Zoom and your school’s Learning Resource Management app as well as computer webcams.
Try to practice with the apps and technology well before classes begin. You don’t want to miss out on anything important because you waited until the first day of class to use the apps and technology.
Clean your webcam’s lens, if necessary. Take a snapshot to see if there’s anything inappropriate in the background.
Space and Time
It can feel weird trying to learn and do work at home instead of in a classroom. That’s why you need to clear off a certain area of your home (like an office or part of your bedroom) as a designated study and work area.
Furthermore, let your family or roommates know that you will be doing schoolwork at certain times each day. This will manage their expectations while giving you time to focus entirely on your studies.
Speaking of focusing, you need to reduce distractions while you work. If you get distracted by noise, you may want to invest in some noise-canceling headphones or earplugs. Alternately, you can cancel out noise with everything from a fan on your desk to YouTube channels that play hours of white noise.
There are also phone apps that will block your access to social media for a time or even block your access to the phone. That may sound drastic, but reducing digital distractions for a short time can make you more productive (and help you get the most out of each night’s study time).
Participate However You Can
Some of your classes may be “synchronous,” which means they expect you to log in at a certain time on certain days. Others may be “asynchronous,” which means the professors will put material online that you can access on your own schedule.
While you must participate in synchronous classes, it’s easy to feel disconnected in asynchronous classes. That’s why these professors will often offer optional message boards or video sessions for students who wish for more interaction.
If your professor has office hours, use them for extra help. This will also enhance your feeling of connection to the college community.
Try to actively participate whenever and however you can. You’ll end up getting more out of the class, and you’re likely to learn from your classmates as well as your teacher.