Online learning can offer several benefits, such as the flexibility to learn from home and to save time on commuting. Although remote learning can offer several positives, it also comes with its own unique challenges.
Midwest Technical Institute (MTI) has always offered hands-on training and our goal is to re-open campus for students to physically return to class and receive hands-on lab training as soon as it is possible and safe to do so. However due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MTI is now offering students blended online classroom theory and hands-on lab training.
To help first-time online students transition into remote learning, here are some tips students can use to prepare and succeed.
Tip #1: Prepare a space dedicated to learning.
Much like being in a classroom setting, creating a space in your home that is dedicated to your online learning will help keep you motivated and focused!
- Find an area in your home that you can designate just for learning.
- Choose an area of your home that is lighter on foot traffic—for example a spare bedroom, the basement, or a den area, rather than the kitchen table or living room.
- Avoid doing schoolwork in the kitchen area during mealtimes, or the living room when others are watching TV.
- Consider having a motivational quote or an item in your study area that helps keep you focused on your goals.
Tip #2: Get familiar with the technology and your new “classroom.”
Online learning relies on technology, so it’s important to get familiar with whatever device, tools, or software you will be using to access your online learning platform.
- If possible, login to your online learning platform before the first day of class, so you can browse through the features and layout.
- If you will be using video conferencing tools, like Microsoft Teams, it’s helpful to do a test run to make sure your audio and video is working.
- Remember, if you’re using video conferencing, an indicator light will come on to signal that your webcam is on and you are visible to others.
- Familiarize yourself with chat functions, the mute button, file sharing, or other tools you may need.
- The higher your internet speed, the better the quality of the video and audio. If you can hard wire into your router, that will give you the best connection. If you’re on Wi-Fi, try to sit as close to the router as possible.
Tip #3: Create a weekly schedule.
Having a routine not only helps you to succeed at online learning, but it also helps you to better share your space with family and roommates.
- Set your schedule at the beginning of each week to help you stay organized and focus on the task at hand.
- Block times for completing your coursework, mealtimes, breaks, work shifts, and other obligations. For example, you might organize your morning this way:
- 8-9:30 a.m. attend online class
- 9:30-10 a.m. break
- 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. complete assignments
- 12-1 p.m. lunch
- Share your schedule with family, so they know when you will be unavailable. It will make it easier for all of you to respect each other’s leisure and study time.
Tip #4: Minimize Distractions.
Even small distractions can take your attention off your schoolwork and add hours of delay in completing your online learning.
- Put your phone ringer on silent during class or while completing coursework. You can also put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode.
- Turn off social media notifications, or even better, temporarily delete social or gaming apps from your phone while studying or attending online class.
- Close any chat windows or browser tabs that are not related to your class.
- Try to work in an area that is away from the TV, PlayStation, Xbox, or other distractions.
Tip #5: Take responsibility for your online learning experience.
You can still make friends, meet your instructor, and have an engaging experience through online class. But it is important that you take the initiative to have a positive experience.
- Take the time to read through your classmates’ introductions and discussion posts. Reach out to classmates you’d like to connect with.
- Meet your online classmates so you can compare notes, share thoughts, ask questions, and feel more connected during the online portion of your learning journey.
- Ask questions, participate in discussions, and have a positive attitude.
- Take initiative to connect with your instructor by sending them a private chat or email if you would like to have one-on-one time to discuss a topic, learn more about the profession, or receive feedback.
- Step up and take personal responsibility for your learning—if you do not understand something, ask! If you feel lost, confused, or unsure, it is always better to clarify. Your instructor is here to help you, but ultimately it your responsibility to ask for help.
Start your online learning journey with an open mind and an end goal!
Online learning is still a two-way process—the more you put in, the more you’ll get out of the experience.
Many schools, like MTI, have temporarily moved online in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. This means that for many students and instructors, online learning is a first-time experience. Practicing social distancing and staying at home during COVID-19 adds a unique challenge for online learners, especially if it is your first-time navigating schoolwork online.
Be patient with yourself, your classmates, and your instructor.
Embrace the online learning curve and the opportunity to continue your education and prepare for your future during this time.
Acknowledge that by learning online you are playing a part to help keep the coronavirus curve flat.
Remember that you are learning new skills that can lead to lifechanging opportunities in your future.