Something that most of us, if not all of us, have had to adjust to this semester is the reality of taking classes online. Before attending Cabrini, I had never taken a class online before. This past semester, I found myself having to take four online classes. It is a change that can be taxing on both students and teachers, and it has proven to be difficult for everyone involved. There are definitely some downsides to this new mode of learning, but it can also be a positive, transformative experience.
One problem I have noticed with online classes is how easily you can fall behind if you do not hold yourself accountable for your work. This can be especially true for asynchronous classes that do not meet and do not have a specific class time. One thing leads to another, and all of a sudden, your due dates are through the window. One way to combat this is to plan your week ahead of time and write down everything that needs to be accomplished by the end of the week. Having all of your due dates written down and in front of you is a great help, especially because it can easily be out of sight and out of mind with some of this work. Knowing what is due by which day is a good way to keep yourself on track and make sure you don’t miss any assignments. A good way to organize your assignments and keep dates in check is to invest in a weekly planner. This way, you can have a scope of your whole week, and you can even plan time slots to be able to complete work. My planner definitely kept me organized and on track this semester.
With online classes comes a new experience of education. I had four professors this semester that I had never met in person- ever. Not knowing your professors can be difficult because it can feel as though there is a disconnect or that you cannot form a working relationship with them. Something that I did this semester in an attempt to better work with and get to know my professors was attending office hours. You can attend virtual office hours with questions about assignments, due dates, or even extra study help. All of my professors were always more than happy to help with whatever I needed, and I got to know them in a one-on-one setting. I feel as though this definitely not only helped me to get to know my professors better, but it helped them to get to know me a little bit better. Through this, I have been able to make connections with them, and I was able to find out what they were looking for as far as the quality of assignments, class participation. I learned what other classes they teach that I might be interested in taking during future semesters. I highly recommend attending office hours or scheduling meetings with your teachers to get a more personal connection!
It is not just downsides or difficulties that come with virtual classes, they can actually be quite nice in certain ways. When you have an early class, instead of having to wake up earlier to get ready and walk or drive to class, you can easily wake up ten minutes before and log onto your Zoom for an online class. Getting some extra sleep in before your day begins is one of the biggest highlights of virtual schooling, in my opinion. Another positive aspect for me was having all of my assignments on Blackboard Learn-Cabrini’s online course-management system. This is a great way to hold myself accountable for my work because it is all in the same place, either under “Course Content” or “Assignments.” I knew exactly what was already submitted and what still needed to be completed. There was no more fear of misplacing a worksheet or not knowing which pages of a textbook needed to be read for the next class, it was all laid out right in front of me.
Nobody knows how many more semesters we will have to deal with virtual classes or if it will eventually be the normal way of attending classes, so it’s best for all of us to try to make the most of it. When a problem is encountered, think of some ways that work for you to combat it and to stay on track. We all have to get through online classes, and it is a good idea to take it head-on and make positives out of sometimes negative, confusing, or frustrating situations. It’s not all bad, and some people, like me, actually work better in a virtual setting!