I’ve always felt that education should be an in-person experience. There’s something about being in the classroom, on a campus, with the teacher standing in front of you, and the other eager students around you, that’s just energizing and inspires focus. Certainly having a teacher be able to see if you look down at your phone or draw a doodle also helps keep you on track. And then there is that wonderful immediacy of simply raising your hand if you have a question, or going up to the teacher after class if something was unclear to you. Classes that take place in a physical location also remove you from distractions. You’re in a learning environment. You aren’t in your bedroom or kitchen, where something can easily steal your attention. IRL classes require a tight schedule as well. You must show up at this exact time, and be present for the duration of the class. You can’t wander off somewhere. You can’t just log in and then walk away to do something else. Now, everything is moving online. More and more colleges are choosing to move classes onto platforms like Zoom or Google meetings to keep students safe in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students of all ages and levels are going to have to rapidly learn how to get just as much out of the online education system as they would out of the IRL one because the IRL one is out of commission…for now. Here are tips for getting the most out of your online classes.
“Arrive” a little early
You can usually log into the online class a few minutes before it actually begins, just as you would arrive early to a physical class. This allows a little time for you to have some banter with the teacher before he dives into the discussion, and quickly clarify any topics about which you were confused after the last lecture.
Attend virtual office hours
The important thing is to develop a relationship with your teacher, even though you may never meet in person. He may offer virtual office hours, and if that is the case, attend these. Jot down a few questions or conversation topics. This is partially about getting real answers to your questions, but also about developing that relationship with a professor, with actually helps you feel motivated to do well in class.