As we look toward yet another semester of remote learning for many, this is an excellent time for students to evaluate their challenges and successes. Some students are thriving in their remote classrooms and others are struggling mightily. In this episode, Lynn and Vicki explore some of the challenges students face and offer suggestions to help students make the most of their online experiences. From their perspectives as a classroom instructor and a Learning Disabilities specialist, Vicki and Lynn have gathered stories of resilience and tips to help students maintain their motivation throughout the semester.
In this episode, Lynn and Vicki call on their experiences with students during the past year and a half of remote learning to share some ways that parents can help their students. We’re facing another semester of a combination of fully remote, hybrid, and face-to-face teaching and learning. Student need to bring their best habits to their learning and battle the non-helpful habits.
Vicki shared 20 suggestions based on her experiences with her students during this past semester. Some may seem obvious, but others may prove helpful to students who struggled in this new environment. They are in no particular order. Share them with your student.
#1 – Participate. Whether in the classroom or online, talk. Join discussions – on Zoom or in Discussion Boards. Submit assignments and/or questions. Join the chat (productively) during a Zoom class. In other words, don’t just be there, share your presence.
#2 – Have a clear plan. Know when, where, and how you’re going to get your work done.
#3 – Ask for clarification. If something doesn’t seem clear to you, ask about it. Be specific. The professor may have thought instructions were clear, but if they seem confusing, get things cleared up.
#4 – Work with others. Studies show that students who study together do better. Start a weekly study group, study for tests with others, use connections. This is easier than ever with online formats – students don’t even need to leave their rooms to gather!
#5 – Be patient with your professor. The online format is new to many of us. We’re learning, too. Try to give us the benefit of the doubt.
#6 – Be human. Share a little about yourself with your professor. There is less time for small chats and opportunities to get to know each other before or after class. Fill in the blanks for us so we can know you as a person and not just a student – and try to get to know us as well.
#7 – Don’t disappear. Stay in touch. If something happens and you need to miss class, let us know what is going on. If you’re overwhelmed and falling behind, continue coming to class and let us know. Dropping out of sight for days or weeks and then trying to jump back in later rarely works. Stay in touch and we’ll try to work with you.
#8 – Keep your camera on. Remind us that there is a person behind that computer screen. We want to see your face (even if there are 30 of them on the screen and even if you’re having a “bad hair day”.) When you’re camera is off, we have no way of knowing that you’re actually still there and paying attention. Show us that you’re with us.
#9 – Be ready for class and stay attentive. Sit up – preferably at a table or desk. Your bed may be more comfy, but when you’re in class, look like you’re ready for work, not a nap. Think business meeting.
#10 – Remember that learning is an active, not passive process. Be willing to engage. Don’t be distracted by other things on your screen or phone. Engage in the class. Watching the professor on the screen is not the same as watching a TV show.
#11 – Be self-motivated, self-disciplined. With online learning, you need to be more responsible for getting your work done. There may be fewer in-class reminders, more reading and keeping track of several assignments on your own.
#12 – Be prepared to put in the time. Online learning – and teaching – takes more time than most of us expect. It takes more time and more keeping-track than usual. Be prepared for more time and work than usual.
#13 – Talk to your family (or your roommate) about your needs. When does it need to be quiet so you can be in class? When and where will you get your work done? Do you need to ask others not to use the internet at certain times so you’ll have a reliable signal?
#14 – Read everything carefully. As Lynn mentioned, online learning requires more reading and writing than normal classroom learning. Be sure to take the time to read everything. Reread instructions more than once to be sure you’ve got it all. It’s great to ask for clarification, but make sure you’ve read what’s there first.
#15 – Recognize that this is real learning. It may not feel like a classroom, but the learning is real – if you put in the effort to be actively engaged. This isn’t a placeholder until we can all get back in the classroom, it covers real material and demands real work.
#16 – Practice with the technology. It’s hard enough to try to learn new material. Try not to struggle with the technical aspects of online classes as well. Take time to get familiar and comfortable with however your course is provided.
#17 – Take notes. Remember, this is active learning, not passive TV watching. Write things down during lessons or lectures (whether live or pre-recorded.) Students who take notes do better.
#18 – Use the syllabus and any materials provided. Most professors work hard to try to give a clear sense of what is expected (including important deadlines) in the original syllabus. There may also be additional materials throughout the semester. Read everything carefully. You’ll be held responsible for it.
#19 – Be willing to be flexible. Your class may move from face-to-face to online or may move from remote into the classroom. Requirements may need to change. Assignments may need to be dropped or added. We’ve all needed to learn to adapt this year.
#20 – Be honest. Talk to the professor if you’re not sure about something. It’s sometimes tempting to cheat or borrow material in an online environment. The rules for academic integrity and plagiarism don’t change just because the class is remote – neither do the consequences if you get caught. If you’re not sure whether a test is open book or whether you can quote a source – ask!
Whew! That’s a lot. But find those things that may be helpful and share them with your student.
In this episode, Lynn also shared some the study apps that her students use and find helpful. Here are a few of those. Check them out. And if you have others that you or your student use, share them in the comments below.
Any phone or online calendar apps
For help with online reading
For test/quiz prep
And finally, here are a few articles and other podcast episodes that may be helpful:
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