Instructor Tips: How to Shine at your Online Classes this Fall

By Gurbani

YouAlberta
Sep 3, 2020 · 4 min read
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Fall semester this year will be very different, and it is normal for us (students) to struggle to follow a fixed schedule and stay motivated while learning at home. I am certain that I will miss studying in the library and attending classes with my friends. However, this is the “new normal of studying” and we must get ready to shine this fall during our online classes. I thought: who better to get some advice from than the people actually teaching the online classes? So I reached out to some instructors from our university for their tips on how to adjust and excel in this new normal:

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“Learning from home has similar challenges to learning on campus — you still need to find quiet places to study, you still need to stick to a schedule, and you still need to find time for yourself. So, when learning from home, your #1 priority should be to stick to the schedule your prof sends you. If you get off track then don’t be too hard on yourself, dedicate one day a week to ‘catch up’ work and keep on trucking. Keep your study space clean and treat school like a job. And occasionally….just occasionally… get out of your pyjamas for class.”

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“Try to follow the same schedule that you would have had for in-person classes. You can ‘go to class’ every day by viewing the lecture videos at the scheduled lecture time. Actively engage with the videos by taking notes and working through any examples. Take advantage of opportunities to interact with others in the class. Lastly, let your profs know if you are struggling or if some aspect of the course is not working. Best wishes for a productive semester!”

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Welcome to a new academic year! I am about to teach an Introductory Psychology class and want the students to succeed. Different learning strategies will be more or less effective depending on the individual, but here are some ideas I hope will help as we embark on this online learning journey together:

1. Make a schedule…
for reading the textbook, watching pre-recorded or live lectures, and working on assignments/studying. There is always a lot of content covered in a short period of time, so try not to get behind. Most if not all syllabi will list which topics will be covered in each week; try to stick to that pace.

2. Make a friend (or 5)!
They could be your “accountability partners” so that you don’t fall behind, and your study partners to prepare for tests.

3. Ask questions!
When I’m in the classroom, I can see when students are confused by their facial expressions, but it’s harder to do that during online learning. My biggest fear as a professor is thinking all of the students understand the content, only to find they all fail a midterm. Post questions on eClass discussion boards, email TAs/Professors, come to our “office hours”, you name it! If you don’t have a specific question, but just know you don’t “get it”, that’s okay — just tell us the topic and we’ll do our best to explain it better.

4. Try to be positive, and take mental health breaks!

Our professors have always got our back. Your online journey will become smooth once you start reaching out to seek help. The entire experience of learning online will be different but don’t treat “different” as equivalent to “difficult.” Try to cope with the different. I hope you embrace the new normal of studying and have a great “at home” fall semester!

YouAlberta

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