From Classroom to Cloud: Strategies for Success

Submitted on 6 April 2020

Letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Quest or the Editorial Board.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic Reed made a swift move to take classes online in an effort to protect our campus and community. It has been a couple weeks since the shift to remote learning and many students facing challenging and stressful circumstances are worried that they may be falling behind and that their academics could suffer.

Students have shared that without a set schedule the temptation to procrastinate is stronger. With no in-person interactions with the instructor or with fellow students, it can be easy to forget assignments and deadlines. Some students have found it more difficult to concentrate in online conference classes. That being in a non-designated space like a classroom means they are easily distracted, go on their phone more, and are tempted to open more tabs on the computer. Students feel that home life is not always suitable for productivity or concentration, and even if their home life is not the worst, houses can be noisy and distracting places. They miss going to the library, getting up and going somewhere quiet, and having a mental and physical separation between academic and home life.

Because online courses are not supervised in the same way traditional face-to- face classes are, staying motivated and organized is critical for success. Here are some strategies that can help you schedule your time, stay organized, establish a routine, and create a support system.

When moving to an online format it is vital to familiarize yourself with the syllabus, class requirements and assignment due dates to avoid unpleasant surprises down the line. Hang a calendar on the wall of your study space and fill it out according to the syllabus. Alternatively, use an online calendar and set alerts. Organizing your schedule will not only facilitate your studies but will also help you set aside time for the other elements of your life.

Stay organized online by bookmarking sites that you often use in your research so you don’t have to hunt them down every time you need them and try using online helpers like Quizlet, which lets you create flashcards and games that will help you study. The site also stores study aides that other students have created, so you may already be able to find what you need.

While working online is a necessity when taking a web-based class, the internet can also be a distraction. If you find yourself checking Facebook every few minutes, taking a Netflix break that never seems to end, or otherwise wasting time online when you’re supposed to be working, there are apps that can help.

Try online tools like StayFocusd, which helps you restrict the amount of time you spend on these distractions.

Establishing a routine will increase the chances that you’ll stay on top of what you need to be doing, rather than letting deadlines sneak up on you. Take the time to make a study schedule for each course. Include blocks of time for regular study and reading, as well as extra time to prepare for tests and projects such as research papers.

Use an old-school paper planner if that works best for you or try a planning app like My Study App, which lets you store your schedule in the cloud so you can access it from all your devices.

Create a Support System by enlisting your friends and family to help you stay on track with your online education. Whether that’s making sure they understand your commitments and time constraints or encouraging those you live with to help out with household chores, their help and cooperation can make it easier for you to focus on your coursework.

Taking online classes may seem a little isolating, but it doesn’t have to be. If you have trouble staying organized, reach out to your fellow students online – or perhaps meet in Zoom – to help each other stay accountable.

Zoom study groups can be an effective way of keeping yourself on track and if you need help from the professor or would like to meet by phone or online, don’t hesitate to ask. Part of staying organized – especially with online learning – is being proactive and reaching out before you run into trouble.

Getting organized and putting some systems in place can make it easier to be successful in online classes. Try these tactics and let us know which ones help you the most!

Signed, Jenni Leatham, MA, LPC, CRC, MAC, CACIII

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