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OPINION: Quick tips for online classes

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Sydney Richardson | The Daily Wildcat

 English senior Jenny Aranda peruses through her class’ D2L page during a quiet day at the UA Main Library. UA Online degree programs allow distance learners to complete a program without ever setting foot on campus.

As someone who has taken several online classes and seriously considered moving to all online, I would like to say I’m pretty good at e-learning. However, I know that a good portion of my friends are terrified by the idea of online school and just aren’t made for online learning. With the university-wide shift, nearly everyone I know got exponentially more stressed out. I’ve since shared advice with them about staying on top of work, but I figured if they were worried about it, surely more people were as well. So, here’s my top five tips to doing well in digital classes.

Make a schedule

Probably the best advice I can give is to make a weekly schedule. Set aside particular times to work on your classes; I know I’m sticking pretty close to my original class schedule. If you are in classes that aren’t meeting through Zoom and you have a little more freedom for when you get your work done, pick a time and day. Having a schedule will help you stay on track and not fall behind. Plus, this will give your days routine and make social distancing easier.

Jennifer Stevens Aubrey, an assistant professor in communication, teaches online classes throughout the regular semester and also suggests that online students create their own schedule.

“I think scheduling your classwork on a weekly schedule is the best way of avoiding missed deadlines and staying on top of what needs to be done,” Aubrey said in an email.

Get out of bed and “go to work”

Have a designated work space that isn’t your bed. Whether it’s a coffee table, desk or dinner table, having a specific space where you only do work is super helpful. Doing work in bed never ends well for me; I just get stressed out and default to watching Netflix. Designating a specific, organized place where I do work helps me feel like I’m “going to work” in a sense — I have to be here and do my work.

Dress for success

While the thought of getting to stay in your pajamas for class may seem exciting, my biggest advice for doing well in online courses is to dress up. It doesn’t have to be a five piece suit or anything fancy, but put on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt — maybe even a nice button up —  and get to work. I find that when I put on real clothes, I feel like I’m at work or school and I’m much more prone to stay focused and on task.

If you’re unsure, just ask! 

A big thing with online classes (that aren’t done through live streaming services like Zoom) is that the teacher can’t read your confused facial expressions and you can’t raise your hand when you don’t understand something.

“Online instructors do not get the benefit of getting direct feedback from their students in real time,” Aubrey explained in an email, “and we will never know that there is a problem if a student does not intervene.”

Be extra vigilant to email your teacher or attend their office hours if there’s something you’re unsure about. They can’t read your minds and you deserve to understand what’s going on.

Self-care is the best care

With classes going online and social distancing being encouraged because of the ongoing pandemic, taking care of yourself is an even higher priority now. Make sure that you schedule in time to take care of you — pick up a skin care routine, set aside a chunk of your day to focus on a hobby, whether it be drawing, reading or home workouts. Check in with yourself. Stay healthy, both mentally and physically. If you’re taking care of yourself, managing school will be just that much easier.


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