My professor moved our classes online. Now what?

young women on laptop by window

Colleges and universities across the country are halting study abroad programs, asking students to leave their dorms, and cancelling in-person classes, telling professors to move them online. It’s leaving thousands of students figuring out how to continue their semester remotely.

You probably aren’t totally new to online learning, but this may be the first that it’s truly full time. Here is some helpful advice to make the transition a little easier:

Set a schedule to manage your time

You may find you have more flexibility now, but time management is the biggest factor affecting your success learning remotely. Figure out the amount of time you need to set aside for attending online class and studying each week. Keep a planner that plots out the times you should be online, when you’re studying and when your assignments are due. Don’t forget to schedule time to disconnect and be social (or at least as social as we all can be right now).

Try new ways of learning

Without sitting in class and taking notes, how do you commit things to memory? We have four study tips based on science to help:

  1. Study often. It’s like the idea of keeping something fresh in your mind by thinking of it every so often. And start this right away.
  2. But you don’t need to spend a lot of time studying. You can study in little chunks, like 15-20 minutes.
  3. Close your laptop and quiz yourself about what you were reading. Making yourself recall something, rather than re-reading it or even doing a multiple choice problem is better for learning. Think of it as strengthening the muscle that pulls the information from your memory.
  4. Connect the concepts you are studying to your real life or other things you know. If you make it meaningful it’ll stick with you longer. (Public health students are all set on this one.)

Carve out a good study environment

Sounds obvious, right? But, you’re probably going to be at home a lot now with other people, who also may have to study or work there too. Negotiate with your roommates, family members or pets to secure a distraction-free place to focus.

Passive aggressive notes aren’t recommended, but a sticky note on the back of your laptop will let people know that you’re learning without interrupting you. You’re probably going to need to listen to audio, so make sure it is fairly quiet and grab your headphones. Experiment with white noise and music without words to help you block noise.

Participation counts

It takes more effort to socialize, collaborate and communicate in a new online environment than in your familiar classroom. The more you contribute and share ideas with others in your online class, the more likely you are to succeed.

Be willing to speak up if problems arise

Your professors and classmates are struggling to figure out the new normal too and speaking up will only help everyone. We’re all in this together.

About the author
Kristen DiCerbo, Ph.D.

Kristen DiCerbo, Ph.D.

Dr. Kristen DiCerbo is the Vice President of Learning Research and Design at Pearson. She leads a team of researchers and learning designers conducting new research and embedding learning science insights into the design of digital products and services. Kristen’s personal research program centers on the use of game- and simulation-based assessment. She received her Master’s and Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at Arizona State University. She also worked as a school psychologist and a researcher with the Cisco Networking Academies.