|A student’s laptop has become a substitute for a lot
of what the classroom used to offer
As I noted previously, I spent a great deal of my pre-college education studying online.
Practically all the assignments, office hours, class periods, and communication between students and teachers at my high school took place online. Taking college classes online also helped me progress in my education.
How does early exposure to these online tools benefit a student as they continue with their education?
For starters, my community college used Blackboard. Its poor design and spotty functionality became a running joke among students who actually checked Blackboard, and many professors didn’t use Blackboard at all for their classes.
Now that I’m at the University of Arizona, I’ve had to acquaint myself with the D2L system, which, so far, has proven to be far more efficient than Blackboard at a number of tasks, especially assignment submission.
There are some things I had to learn along the way, when it came to doing work and engaging with students and professors online. Some of these might apply to you, some may not, but here, at least, is what I have learned so far:
- Check your email every day. There’s no excuse not to. Not checking your email is lazy. From cancelled classes, to changed due dates, to other important notices from professors and from the school at-large, email is an extremely important communication tool for students, and it shouldn’t be ignored. I can’t count how many times I heard students at my community college say they never checked their email. It’s probably no surprise that these same students had to repeat some classes.
- Check Blackboard, D2L, or whatever other system your school uses every day. Similar to above. Not doing so is lazy. It takes no more than a minute to read through announcements. If there are no announcements, log out; if there are, act accordingly. Your experience will probably be a lot smoother if you know what’s going on in your classes.
- Don’t wait until the last minute on assignments that need to be submitted online. Some systems have scheduled downtime, so you’re probably wise enough to avoid submitting things during that period, but never assume that things will always go according to plan. If you attempted to upload an assignment and aren’t sure that it got through, email your professor with the assignment so they know, at least, that it’s been completed.
- Don’t be afraid to contact your peers, professors and teaching assistants if you need help, and definitely don’t be afraid to contact technical support when necessary.
- Schedule study time. This applies to online and offline work, but it’s especially important for online work. Admit it: We all get distracted by Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and other sites. Learn to get away for at least an hour or two so you can do work and do it well. The fact that the work is done online doesn’t necessarily make the class easy, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you don’t have to set aside time to do homework for that class.