Tackling Online and Virtual Classes

Love them or hate them, online classes are part of being a college student these days. For some of us, our introduction to online schooling has been baptism by fire as the COVID-19 pandemic entered our lives. For others, online learning has been part of their lives for years now. Most of us have struggled in some ways with adjusting to this new medium of learning. Luckily, online and virtual classes can be enjoyable and beneficial if we know how to tackle them. In this post, I will be discussing some ways to succeed in your online classes. 

Feeling Connected

One common complaint that students have regarding online classes is the lack of connection that they feel with their professor and their classmates. This lack of connection may sometimes lead to a lack of motivation to go to class. We all know that in order to be successful, we must attend our classes, even if they are over Zoom. One way that you can feel more involved in this virtual setting is by turning on your camera! I know, I know, maybe you just woke up and your hair is looking a little bit crazy, but if we don’t show our faces as we would in person, we subsequently feel disconnected from the class. 

I had a serious problem with turning on my camera back at the beginning of the pandemic. I just didn’t see the point, and I enjoyed not having people see me! However, I noticed that in the classes where my camera stayed off, I was much more likely to doze off, get distracted, and not learn the material that was required of me. I didn’t care about my classes because I didn’t feel like I contributed to the class as a blank square on a screen. As I turned on my camera and tried to participate whether out loud or through the chat, I felt much more invested in the class and in-class time, and I saw a definite improvement in my performance. 

Still not feeling connected even with the camera on? Reach out to your professor! They are there to help you succeed in their class. Introduce yourself and get to know them a little bit too! By creating a relationship with them, you will in turn feel more accountable and motivated to go to class and to be present and engaged. This is a great way to feel connected if your class does not offer even Zoom lectures. If you want some ideas on how to reach out to professors, check out our blog post on it. 

You can also reach out to other students in your section via canvas and try to connect with them. You can get to know people by starting a group chat or perhaps getting their phone numbers so you can talk to them personally. Maybe these small steps would lead to beginning a study group or just becoming friends! Having peers in class that you know can help you feel excited to go to class and see your friends.  

Scheduling time to “Go to Class”

Another big struggle in online classes is simply forgetting that you are in them. Many of us these days have in-person classes as well as some online courses. It can be easy to forget about or procrastinate in your online courses simply because you are not attending them in person. One way to correct this problem is by scheduling time to work on your online courses and “go to class” just as you would in an in-person course. 

Take a look at your calendar and pick a few times a week where you will “go to class” online. One way to do this could be by scheduling time Monday, Wednesday, and Friday or Tuesday and Thursday as you would for attending any other class. Whether or not you have Zoom lectures, this time that you set aside will allow you to work on your assignments for your online class so you won’t fall behind. 

I struggled with staying on top of my work in online classes simply because I was lost on where to look for assignments! Especially in classes where there were no Zoom lectures and it was simply work that I had to do by myself, I was falling behind. I remember one day I checked on a class that I didn’t normally look at, and I realized that I had missed an entire essay! I was shocked and immediately very concerned. I checked the policy for late work and luckily because I had caught it rather quickly, I could still get up to a 90% on the essay if I did well. I immediately got to work and emailed the professor an apology, explaining that I simply had forgotten the assignment. This incident was not too detrimental to my grade, but oftentimes late work can really break a student’s otherwise wonderful grade! I learned my lesson that day and have scheduled my class time faithfully since then. 

Using a Calendar

In my opinion, one of the most underrated tools that we have as students is Canvas, specifically, the calendar setting on Canvas. I love the Canvas calendar, and my life would be an absolute mess without it! Most class assignments, tests, and other important events are automatically uploaded onto the calendar feature in Canvas. As you complete assignments, the calendar will automatically cross them out. 

This feature really lets you see what you have done and what is coming up. I recommend checking this calendar daily so you don’t let any assignments slip through the cracks! The calendar once reminded me that I had a big essay due at the end of a week, and that gave me enough time to get it done early so I didn’t have to stress-write it the night it was due! 

There are various features on the calendar that allow you to color-code your classes and even add your own events, assignments, and reminders in there. This means you can put the scheduled time to go to your online classes here on your Canvas calendar! Take some time to explore the awesome resource that is your Canvas calendar! 

Treating it like a “Normal” Class

Online and virtual classes are part of our life now. They likely will never completely go away, so it is essential that we learn the best ways to succeed in them! My final tip is to treat them like “normal” classes because they are! Online learning is becoming a normal part of our college education, and we should treat these classes just like any other in-person classes that we may be taking. They give us a great opportunity to practice self-discipline, scheduling, and meeting deadlines; these are all skills that we will continue to use outside of college. 

Want to talk some more about how you personally can rock your online classes? Come see us, your academic peer coaches! We would love to talk with you about how to successfully tackle your online courses!

About The Author

Certified Peer Educator


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