Blackboard Basics – Part 9: Additional Tips for Student Success

Welcome to Blackboard Basics for Students.
This is the ninth video in a nine part series, and this video will cover some of my personal
tips for success in an online class. Online classes are not for everyone. The format
of learning and assessment in an online class is quite different from a traditional class
– there is added emphasis on learning from reading and expressing your knowledge in writing.
In addition, an online class often requires self-motivation and time management skills
that are different from what students may be used to from a traditional in person class.
As such, I will discuss a few of my tips for success in an online class. These tips are
based on my own experiences in taking online classes, discussions with students in online
classes, and discussions with other faculty who teach online classes. These are just my
personal suggestions for success – I imagine that other instructors or experts may have
other suggestions! First, students should consider time management
skills. Online classes require a lot of dedication and self motivation. If you were in my intro
psych class that met every Tuesday and Thursday at 9am, you would be unlikely to “forget”
to come to class. However, because online classes usually don’t have a set schedule,
it is easier to forget or miss a deadline. Thus, setting aside specific time to work
on an online class is very important. Students taking a 3 unit 14 week course should expect
to spend 10-12 hours or more per week on that class. This would include time to read the
material, watch any videos, complete class assignments, participate in discussion boards,
and study for exams. Setting aside enough time each week is important for doing well
in an online class. A second tip is to keep track of due dates
and upcoming assignments. I always print out multiple copies of the class schedule and
due dates and post them in a couple different places so that they are easily accessible.
I’ve also suggested to students to set an alert on their phones or computers for each
of the due dates. As you complete each item, cross it off your class calendar so that you
know it is complete. As the weeks blend together, you may forget which assignment you already
completed. This is especially important if you are taking more than one online class,
as it is easy to mix up assignments for the different classes. Third, I highly recommend students not wait
until the last minute to complete assignments. This goes without saying – I’m sure you’ve
heard this since you were in elementary school. Psychologists who study learning and memory
find that students learn better when they distribute their studying over time and review
material every day. Similar to building a muscle, your brain needs practice and repetition
to learn new information. Another reason to work ahead in your online class is because
you are working asynchronously with your classmates and instructor. This means that if you have
a question about the material or an assignment, the best way to have it answered is to email
or contact your instructor. However, it is unlikely your instructor is available to answer
your question at the exact time that you think of it. So if you waited until the night an
assignment is due, it is unlikely that your instructor would be available to answer your
question before you have to turn it in. In addition, it is a good idea to be prepared.
Technical difficulties are bound to occur in an online class. Working on assignments
in advance will give you time to contact either the instructor or the student help desk to
solve the issue before the due date of the assignment. You may want to have a plan for
what to do if your computer is broken or lost. Think about where else can you use or borrow
a computer? Students at Saddleback and IVC have access to computer labs on campus. You
may also be able to use a computer at a public library or at a friend’s house. It is a
good idea to keep backup copies of your assignments saved to a flash drive or a cloud device so
that you can access it on another computer. Know that online classes are reading and writing
intensive. Students should feel comfortable learning from reading textbooks or written
lectures and also feel comfortable sharing their knowledge and ideas through writing.
If you need help in these areas, I recommend taking additional reading or writing classes
before enrolling in an online class. However, students can also visit the Tutoring Center
at Saddleback or Irvine Valley College for assistance in their classes, or search the
internet for tips for strategies to learn by reading (I like the SQ3R method – see
some of my favorite links in the general information section for this video). My last tip is to ask for help. Sometimes
students tell me that they don’t want to email me because they feel as though they
are “bothering” me. I don’t feel that way at all! If you were in a traditional classroom
and had a question, you might ask a question during lecture or stay after class to ask
it. In an online class, you should still ask the questions that you have. You might send
an email to your instructor or your instructor might prefer students to ask questions in
a discussion board – see your syllabus for details. What if your instructor doesn’t
respond to your emails? First, check your junk mail box to see if it ended up there.
Second, check the syllabus for information about communication – were you supposed
to include your section ticket number in the subject line of your email? Were you supposed
to ask questions in a discussion board and not by email? Did your instructor mention
a turnaround time to respond to emails in the syllabus? I tell students that I will
respond to emails within 24 hours on weekdays and not to expect responses on weekends or
holidays. Third, if you have done everything correctly, try re-sending the email with a
friendly reminder to your instructor. Occasionally I have “lost” emails as I sort through
all the emails that I get each day. Online classes take a lot of dedication and
hard work. Having taken some online classes myself, I know the importance of self-motivation
and commitment. It may help to take a few moments to write down some of the reasons
you are taking the class, and posting it somewhere visible. Review those reasons whenever you
feel your motivation slipping. Good luck. Thanks for watching. I hope this helps. Check
out the link to other videos in the Blackboard Basics for Students series in the general
information section below.

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