Tips for Continuing Your Success in an On-line Learning Environment

Things may feel out-of-control right now. You may be facing a lot of unknowns and disruptions. Try to be patient with yourself, your classmates, and your instructors during this time. Take care of your wellbeing first. Making a plan and adjusting your studying may help you feel even a little sense of control.

One big comment first – If this is your first experience with on-line learning, recognize that your study habits may need to change.

With that in mind, here are a few topics we are going to talk about:

  • Staying Organized
  • Avoid Multi-tasking
  • Make the Most of Video Lectures
  • Set a Schedule
  • Adapt Your Strategies
  • Still Working with a Group
  • Stay Connected with Your People

A quick note – If you have participated in WU101 in the last two years you’ve likely already been introduced to a group of scientifically proven study strategies, offered by the Learning Scientists. You’ll see information and links to the 6 distinct strategies sprinkled throughout the topics.

With so many things changing in your courses, you might be reliving that first-week-of-class confusion. Here are some things you will want to keep track of for each class:

  • Are in-person parts of the class changing?
    • What are the in-person parts of this course? (lecture, lab, etc
  • Where can you find it or how do you access it? (live-stream, lecture capture, etc)
  • Is it at a specific time or can you watch it anytime?
  • Are assignments changing?
    • Are there new due dates?
    • Is how you’re submitting your assignments changing?
    • Are any quizzes or exams being offered virtually?
  • What should you do if you need help?
    • Is your instructor offering virtual office hours? When and on what platform?
    • Is there an online forum for asking questions?

One example of a way you could keep track:

 

CLASS # 1

CLASS # 2

Important Dates

 

Paper due on April 3

Big Changes

D2L Discussion Board usage now

May do a paper now instead of group project

How to Get Help

Online tutoring

Zoom Office Hours

  • There are several downsides to multitasking:
    • Assignments take longer. Each time you come back to that assignment (from Instagram or Twitter), you have to re-familiarize yourself with it, find your spot, remember what you were going to do next, etc.
    • You’re more likely to make mistakes. Distractions and rapidly switching between tasks tire out your brain.
    • You’ll remember less. When your brain is divided, you’re less able to commit what you’re learning to long term memory because it doesn’t get encoded properly into your brain.
  • What do to instead:
    • Focus on one task at a time.
    • Take breaks between tasks.
    • Remember the Learning Scientists and the power of Interleaving to help you focus. Study one topic for 25-50 minutes and then reward yourself with a short 5-10 minute break. Then, switch to another topic.

Video lectures have a different feel to them than listening to someone in person, and it is tempting to not give them your full attention. Consider these tips to increase your retention of video lecture material:

  • Stick to your instructor’s schedule before the COVID-19 disruption as much as you can. Staying on schedule will help you have a feeling of normalcy and prevent you from falling way behind.
  • Find out how to ask questions. Is there a chat feature? A discussion forum?
  • Close distracting tabs and apps.
  • Continue to take notes as you would if you were there in person. This will help keep your brain actively focused on the material.
  • Watch recorded lectures at normal speed, not 1.5x or 2x. Research shows that faster playback speeds lower your retention and can result in lower scores on assessments.

With current social distancing measures, you may have fewer social commitments, group meetings, or even work hours. In the absence of your usual structure, set a schedule for yourself to keep you focused, productive, and motivated.

  • If you don’t already use a calendar or planner – START NOW. You will not be successful in an online learning environment without one.
  • Consider keeping a master planner or calendar with all your due dates and exam dates, and also making a daily schedule for yourself, like the one below. Here is a link to a blank one you can download and fill out for yourself each day:

Time

Scheduled Activities

Course Work

Personal Care

8am

 

 

Shower, Breakfast

9am

American Religious History Zoom lecture

 

 

10am

 

Read Chapter 3 from Religion textbook

 

11am

 

 

Check in with Mary to see what she is up to

12pm

 

 

Lunch

1pm

 

Read Chapter 4 from Anatomy textbook

 

2pm

 

Watch recorded Anatomy lecture

 

3pm

Scheduled Zoom call with Anatomy study group

 

 

4pm

 

 

Take a walk

5pm

 

Write up questions to ask Anatomy professor in Zoom Office Hours tomorrow

 

  • And remember, according to the Learning Scientists, Spacing out your studying, or managing your time, is foundational to learning! Check out this link for more information and helpful tips.

 

Although your study strategies themselves are not that different in an online learning environment (continue to use the Learning Scientists), some of your preferred study routines may need some tweaking.

  • If you usually study in a coffee shop or library
    • What is it about that environment that helps you focus? Is it the white noise? The furniture? The designated study space? See if you can recreate that at home with music, a white noise app, studying in a chair rather than your bed or couch, or moving to a new spot in the house when you change tasks.
  • If you always study in groups
    • Try a virtual or phone-based study session with your group. Zoom is an excellent and free tool for group collaboration because you can share your screens with each other (and see your friends’ faces!) And, importantly, ALL WU STUDENTS HAVE A FREE BASIC ZOOM ACCOUNT. You can also consider Google Hangouts. Whichever method you choose, schedule a time for your group to regularly get together in a virtual environment.
  • If you thrive on tight timelines
    • Your schedule is probably more open now, so think about how to recreate a sense of urgency. Work with others who will hold you accountable to deadlines you set for yourself. Or, challenge yourself to complete a certain task in 15 minutes.

Remote collaboration will look a little different, but it is definitely still possible. Remember these keys to success:

  • Do not procrastinate.
    • That group project may be out-of-sight, out-of-mind if you don’t see your group every MWF in class. Resist the urge to put that project off. Stay in touch (via Zoom, Google Hangouts, GroupMe, text, email, etc.), and make progress on small tasks.
  • Meet regularly.
    • This is especially true if you usually touched base during class or lab. Consider a quick text on your group chat about your progress every couple of days. Have a real conversation over video any week that you’re working together.
  • Set a purpose for meetings and use a shared notes document.
    • Meetings might feel different when using video, even if your team was really good at working informally in the past. Try to set the purpose of your meeting in advance. Take notes on a shared doc so you can all contribute and follow along. You can do this easily in Google Docs.
  • Keep your video on during remote meetings.
    • Whenever possible, keep your video turned on so you can see the expressions of your teammates and they can see yours. It will help you feel more connected to one another!
  • Check on each other and ask for back up.
    • If someone has been absent from your group meetings or chat, ask them directly if they’re still able to participate in the project. If you aren’t getting responses in a day or two, let your instructor know.

As the current health situation demands that we limit the face-to-face time we spend with each other, connecting with family and friends is more important now than ever. And, staying in touch with instructors, classmates, and group mates is vital to your academic success in an online environment.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Schedule video calls with friends and family. Talking with loved ones is an important stress reliever. So is laughing, so take a moment to laugh with your friends and family each day!
  • Use virtual hangouts. Zoom and Google Hangouts will help you connect with classmates to talk through a tough problem. Also consider sharing your phone number with a friend in class so you can text each other when you’re stuck.
  • Attend virtual office hours or study groups. This is one of the best ways to stay on top of your coursework.

PLEASE REMEMBER, THIS WILL PASS.

If COVID-19 has disrupted your travel plans, ended a lab experiment you were excited about, or for any reason feels like it came at the worst possible time, remember: this is temporary. Washburn University and the Center for Student Success is committed to helping you stay on track until things get back to normal.

Until then, don’t panic—you’ve got this. Take a deep breath, do your best, use your resources, ask for help, and wash your hands.


LAPTOPS

Mabee Library has a limited number of laptops available for students. Please contact sean.bird@washburn.edu (785) 670-1550 to make arrangements.


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Washburn Updates on COVID-19

Preventing COVID-19

WU Remote Learning Resources

Counseling Services

Services for Students with Disabilities

Academic Advising

Navigate

Online Learning Guide

Find Free WIFI in Your City

ATT COVID-19 Internet Service

Cox COVID-19 Internet Service

 

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