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How to be an Engaged and Effective Online Learner

Use the Correct Technology

Although you can do most of your schoolwork on the phone or on a desktop computer, it can be best to use a laptop. A phone might not be able to access certain websites, documents, or other resources. A laptop can usually access all the different resources you need. A laptop also allows you to multitask due to the screen size. You can type a word document as you browse the internet. One of the most important things is the fact that a laptop is portable. You can take your work with you. This is an important advantage that will allow you to navigate this difficult time. Make sure to back up your laptop and get a warranty to be able to fix your laptop if damages occur.


Keep the Screen Turned on During Class

It is important to fully participate in class either with active listening or contributing to the class discussion. It can be easy to avoid these things during online learning. Make sure you keep the screen on to encourage yourself to fully participate in class. Be mindful of your surroundings and use a virtual background if needed.


Use All of Your Available Resources

There are many resources available on campus to assist students. Colleges want to help students do their best and have created many programs to benefit students.


One of your main resources is your academic advisor. Academic advisors are there to answer any question you have or direct you to someone that can better help you. Talk to your advisor about any topic such as academics, stress, finances, and so on.


When at the library rather online or in-person, take advantage of the library assistant. The library assistant not only can help you find a book but can also lead you to the book that can best fit your needs. Ask questions such as: What book talks about Michigan’s school funding system?


There is also tutoring available in every subject. If you need help learning a certain topic, reach out for help. Also, if you just need help improving your work there are other resources available such as a writing center that will help you edit your papers.

There is even support for specific groups such as first-generation college students or women in medicine.


Do Not be Afraid to Ask for Help

Reach out to anyone who can help you. Reach out to your professor, advisors, office of financial aid, or so on. There is assistance even for things such as financial needs. There are often many scholarships available from the college for books or even emergency funds.


Take Advantage of Office Hours

Professors have time set aside specially for helping students. Use office hours to reach out to professors for assistance. Adding office hours to your Google Calendar, or whichever calendar that you use, will be a helpful reminder that office hours are available and that you can go when possible or needed. At the beginning of the semester, before you may even need to reach out for assistance, you can still go to office hours to get to know the professor. You can ask about their academic or research interests to break the ice. You are more likely to go to office hours when you need assistance if you have already met and gotten to know your professor.


Check Syllabus and Ask Questions

Make sure you read the syllabus completely and be aware of the requirements of the course. The syllabus is the guide to the course that tells you everything you need to do and how to be successful in the course. Ask questions if you do not understand something in the syllabus. Often, the first day of classes is dedicated to going over the syllabus so make sure to pay attention. The syllabus can change frequently during the semester so check the syllabus often to be aware of changes made. It is helpful to always have your syllabuses for your different classes with you. Some professors upload an online version of the syllabus, but for those that do not, you can photo-scan a copy of the syllabus to your phone so that the syllabus can always be with you.

Know Where to Post Work Online and If There is a Grace Period

Be aware of where to post assignments once they are due. My college uses Canvas to allow students to submit assignments. Some professors will give you a due date and time and not allow assignments to be submitted after that time. Some professors might have a 15-minute period to allow students to submit work after the due time. If something is due at midnight then be ready to submit your work at 11:45 p.m. This will give you time for slow internet connection, having to open the submission portal, etc.


Do Not Multitask During Class

Just like you cannot watch TV during in-person classes, do not watch TV during online classes. Focusing on one task at a time can help you completely and effectively finish a task.


Be Aware of Note-Taking vs. Note-Making

In class you will not have time to take effective notes. In class you are note-taking. You are just trying to quickly jot down information. It is important to also participate in note-making. After class go over your notes and add headings, further explain a keyword, and so forth.


The Cornell Notetaking Method is good for taking notes and reviewing notes after class.


Make a Schedule and Stick To It

Once you get your schedule put in on a paper or online planner, choose whichever works best and that you can easily access at all times. Outside of class, schedule time for studying, eating, and relaxing. Once you stick to a schedule, it comes easily.


Have a Space Dedicated to Learning

Choose a workspace free from distractions. Have enough space to be able to spread out notebooks and class work. Choose a workplace that can stay in place so things will not be misplaced. Having a space that you know is for learning will help your brain focus on learning.



Still Sign Up for Clubs and Student Organizations

You can still participate in clubs and student organizations during this time of online learning. The only differences that may occur are online meetings and a limit on the kinds of activities that can be done at the moment. It is now a good time to sign up for newsletters and attend online meetings of the clubs or student organization that interests you. If you decide that a club or student organization is not for you, you can always decide to no longer be a part of it.


Take Care of Your Health

Many colleges offer healthcare so look into what your college has made available to you. Healthcare does not only include physical healthcare, but also mental healthcare. If you feel sick or stressed out, make sure to reach out to healthcare professionals. Some colleges even offer nutrition specialists that can help you to secure a healthy diet and lifestyle.




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