Tips for Taking Online Classes
Online classes could feel unfamiliar, harder to focus on, and possibly frustrating, but Pacific faculty and staff are here to support you during this transition to online classes. We want you to succeed! Learning and studying for an online class sometimes requires a different approach than studying for an in-person class. Be willing to switch up how you study and do homework and ask your classmates or instructors for help if something isn’t working right for you. Remember to be patient with your instructor and yourself during this transition. We are all in this together and it may take time to adapt to these sudden changes.
Download the Boxer Success Tips Guide and save it in your school folder so you can refer back to it later.
Here are some strategies to help you adjust.
How will your class change when it goes 100% online?
One of the first things you should do is figure out how the class is changing. Ask your professor for clear guidelines. Do you have to be online at a certain time for a live class session via Zoom? Will there be presentations to download? How will you turn in assignments?
Even with things changing, it is helpful to maintain a daily routine. Try to do your school work at the same time you would have been in class. Maintain your habits for in-person classes by taking notes and participating in whatever way you can. Stay on top of checking and managing your email.
You will be expected to use Moodle. Make sure you log in and familiarize yourself with each of your courses. Your professor has tried to include all of the essential information but please ask if you cannot find due dates, assignments, or exam dates. If you are supposed to submit assignments through Moodle, ask your instructor if you can email them as a back-up plan in case something doesn't work right for you. There could be technical issues or problems around software or programs they will want you to use. Do not wait until the last minute to set them up. Do it early and email your professor if you run into any issues.
Tips for an online transition
Do not assume your classes will be easy
Online courses can be self-paced, but in the case of a face-to-face class going online suddenly you may encounter unanticipated challenges. Try to use the same pattern of in-class time, study time, and homework time. You will be responsible for teaching yourself much of the material you learn in the book and on Moodle. This is where a study group comes in handy. Your instructor will do their best to ensure you understand the material but do not hesitate to ask questions if you do not understand something.
Organize your notes and yourself
Time management and staying organized will be the two major keys to your success. You can use a paper planner or calendar, or apps to stay organized. The most important thing you can do is to come up with a strategy that works for you. Here are some steps to start organizing your classes:
- Find a planner, calendar, or app to stay organized. Make sure assignment due dates are marked clearly and set reminders if you need to. Note: App options include reminder apps, calendar, to-do lists that come on your phone, or download an app like Evernote or iStudentPro.
- Create a regular study schedule which accounts for at least 2-3 hours of studying per week for every credit you're in. You need to budget about 40 hours a week for studying and homework. Block out specific times on your calendar for studying and fit those 40 hours in wherever you can in between sleep, meals, work, and other responsibilities you may have. Give yourself enough extra time to figure out how to actually turn in your assignments on Moodle.
- Be real with yourself. Look at how you’re spending your time. Ask yourself: How much time am I dedicating to course reading and assignments? Am I regularly underestimating the time it’s taking me to get things done, forcing me to cram the nights before the exams? A little self-reflection and adjustment can go a long way.
Set a routine, pace yourself, minimize distractions, and reward yourself when you meet a deadline.
Get up for class as you always would have. Get dressed, eat breakfast, and start your day. Set boundaries, respect the study time you've just established by following the steps above, and give yourself extra time. You might need a few extra minutes to figure out where you saved your paper, or how to submit it on Moodle.
You will need to keep yourself accountable. Do not let yourself spend the study time you've already planned for by instead gaming, shopping, streaming videos, reading Wikipedia, browsing reddit for hours on end, or sleeping. But do reward yourself with those things after you've accomplished a goal!
Remind yourself that you will need to set aside the time to read and learn the lecture material. You have to follow through if you want to pass the class. Though you can be flexible as to when you choose to complete your work during the week, you cannot put it off.
Some tips to minimizing distractions include putting your phone on airplane mode, close your chat apps on your computer, open only school-related tabs (or calming music) in your browser, eat a healthy/filling snack before studying, and set up a distraction-free study space. It is okay to take breaks; in fact, you should plan for breaks in between your study time.
Set up a dedicated study space
Find a spot where you can routinely get into a rhythm of studying and learning. This could be a room with a comfortable chair, a kitchen table, or even outside. Ideally you'll have a spot where you can charge your devices and get internet. A calming environment will often help you to make the most of your time and lessen distractions.
Understand the ways to contact your instructor and when you have to be available
First, be kind to your instructor; they may be new to online teaching and are probably as stressed about the transition to online classes as you are. Pay attention to the options to contact your professor. Is email the preferred method? Are online office hours offered? Do they have a phone number dedicated to asking questions? Can you call them if you need help? If your instructor does not clearly provide you with a list of preferred options, ask them.
If the class will be taught in real time on video by your professor and the expectation is that you are also online at that time, please plan ahead for internet access, cell phone reception, and set up your study space to keep the noise and distractions to a minimum.
Form an online study group
Other students you know may also be new to online classes, but you all are not new to connecting with each other online. Think about how you might coordinate efforts to form a study group with an app, discussion board, group texts, or video chat. You will want to study on your own as well but forming a group to rehearse and teach material to others can be an effective way to learn. Consider some of these tools: Group texts, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Discord, facebook messenger, Slack, WhatsApp, or other group chat or video apps. Note: Please remember to abide by Pacific's and your instructor's policies and do not engage in any acts of academic dishonesty, cheating, or plagiarism.
Tutoring is still available
CLASS peer tutoring is available through GoBoard, which provides real-time tutoring using videoconferencing and a shared interactive canvas. Pacific tutors are trained to you through the basic functionality of GoBoard and answer questions during your sessions. You will need access to a computer or tablet with internet connection—ideally one with audio and video functionality—to utilize online tutoring.
- Use in on your computer or download the GoBoard app.
- Use earbuds with a microphone. CLASS Tutoring will purchase and deliver earbuds to students who need them upon request.
- Text chat is also available!
You can view the tutoring schedule online through the website. To make an appointment, you should look at the schedule online by course to choose from available tutoring times. Additional information about accessing online tutoring is available online, and is provided to each student when they make an appointment with a tutor. For questions or concerns, please reach out to Josie Ragolia – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Common Problems that Students Encounter
Are you at home in a house with other people who can't seem to keep the noise down?
You might enjoy plugging in your headphones and playing YouTube videos with soothing jazz or nature sounds to drown out the external noise. Earplugs also can drown out noise pretty effectively!
Create a portable study space if you have to move from one place to another. Don't be afraid to switch things up a bit!
Ask people in your house to give you quiet time throughout the day where you can avoid distractions. Can you study while the baby is sleeping?
Find an open room where you can set up and close the door.
What if I do not have internet?
Communicate this to your instructor right away, especially if they require that you be online at a specific time.
Download the items you'll need ahead of time. Get ready to turn in assignments the next time you can get internet. Pay attention to due dates!
Try to find places that might have free WiFi that you can access (keep at least 6 feet physical distance from other people).
Do you know a healthy person with internet access? Find a friend, or make friends, with other healthy people wherever there is internet available.
- Check with your local internet provider as many of them are offering free services for students!
The Top Tips: A Summary
If you haven't already, please download the Boxer Success Tips Guide and save it in your school folder so you can refer back to it later.
Time management is one of the most important components for success with online classes. Make use of apps, planners, calendars, and reminders to keep up with assignments, stay aware of due dates, and figure out how to effectively spend your time. Dedicate specific days and times for working with class material, and don’t procrastinate.
Take your classes seriously and remember that online classes don’t mean easy classes. Without in-person obligations, it’s easier to slack. It’s imperative that you work hard to stay motivated and truly invest yourself in your education. Keep a routine, avoid distractions, and be present when engaging with online material. Also, don’t be afraid to work with other classmates.
Navigating and understanding technology plays a huge role whether or not you will be successful with online classes. Familiarize yourself with the programs and websites you will be using, know where to find information (such as due dates, office hour info, etc.), and give yourself extra time to do online tasks in case you encounter technological issues. Check your email and Moodle frequently.
To be successful, you need to focus on yourself in addition to the course material. Be patient with yourself while you adjust, be proud of your accomplishments, and reflect on what strategies are and aren’t working for you as you transition to online learning.
Make use of resources. Ask your professor any questions you may have and communicate any problems you are having. Your classmates are trying to manage the same changes you are; work with each other for extra support. Remember there are plenty of campus resources that are still in business. In these stressful times of challenging courses, remember that the Student Counseling Center is available and that the Center for Learning and Student Success still employs tutors that are ready to help you with your classes