There’s much adjusting to be done as the academic landscape turns virtual. Traffic on the freeway and finding a seat are foregone as a student’s worries; our biggest concerns now range from choppy Internet connections to accidentally turning the webcam on to our bed head, so here you’ll find some pointers on how to excel in the online classroom.
Keep a class schedule posted somewhere easy to see. Better yet, set notifications on your phone. The rush of students in and out of buildings might have reminded you of your own classes to attend, but now we don’t have that environmental cue. The only environment we’ve got now is the walls of our home, and not everyone has a circadian rhythm aligned with when school starts. The sense of urgency to get to class on time now has to be set by ourselves.
Utilize online study groups. If professors are going to lecture online, then it only makes sense to study the same way. Be it through Zoom, Discord or Skype there are many ways to keep in touch with fellow students. It can also make for some much-needed social activity. It can’t hurt to stream a movie together after a lecture.
There’s also an area of webcam etiquette to keep in mind; if you turn on the camera, make sure your room, and especially yourself, are presentable. It’s definitely convenient that pants are not a necessity now, but your upper body, face and hair are still something to take care of — greasiness and loose V-necks are appropriate for pajamas, but not face-to-face interactions.
And when it comes to your surroundings, if you can’t find an especially tidy area, Zoom allows you to use image-downloaded backgrounds, covering up that unmade bed or the pizza box in the back (and if either of these things are true to your case, tidy up!).
Just be sure the background is appropriate; the interview room of The Office is fine, but not memes. When I took an online final last quarter, someone’s background was that of Barry B. Benson from the Bee Movie, and while it was humorous it was downright distracting. Be mindful of the student conduct expected from you.
As a student, try to stay active and engaged. Professors are still asking you questions, and you still have the opportunity to answer. Even if we don’t have physical whiteboards and seats, the content of the academic college experience remains; it’s just that we have to take a different approach to digesting that knowledge. And just as it does in the physical classroom, learning begins with asking (and answering) questions. It continues with studying the textbook and other secondary content, something that we should have already been good at when we could still be on campus.
Don’t forget that you still have student resources. The Academic Resource Center continues to offer its services online, alongside other programs like the Campus Advocacy, Resources and Education (CARE) group, the Career Center and Academic Advising from CNAS, CHASS and the School of Business. We still have a GPA to maintain and a career plan to carry out, altered as it may be. Online resources are about the best of services we can get given our situation, but they are still assets that we can use to our advantage, and must use if we are truly struggling in these strange circumstances.
It’s going to take effort on our own part to effectively comprehend the knowledge we’d normally get in a traditional class setting; put your nose to the grindstone then, and give it your all as every student of UCR does the same, powering through this last quarter of 2020 together to stand stronger still at the end.