Abby Wilson is a member of the GoReact marketing team and a full-time college student. Like most students, her courses recently shifted online. We asked her to share her experience from a student’s perspective.
A few days ago, I became a full-time online student.
I wasn’t planning on finishing my last semester of college online. My cap and gown were ordered, hotel rooms were booked, and I was looking forward to celebrating graduation with family.
But like so many others, my plans were disrupted. With the outbreak of coronavirus, I’ve transitioned online. Now I’m struggling to find the same level of engagement that comes from taking classes in-person.
To all the wonderful instructors making the switch online, I’d like to offer a student’s perspective and feedback. From the short week I’ve spent as an online student, here are some online techniques I’ve found help maintain the high-level of engagement we’re all missing from our face-to-face courses.
1. Combine Synchronous and Asynchronous Tools
From my experience, I’ve found that a combination of synchronous and asynchronous tools makes a course most compelling. In one of my courses, students watch a pre-recorded video lecture on our own time and meet on Zoom once a week. We’re also required to complete a short quiz to show what we’re learning. With this structure in place, students can enjoy both flexibility and interaction.
2. Hold Virtual Office Hours
I also value when professors create time for one-on-one engagement by holding virtual office hours. Gone are the days of staying after class or swinging by a professor’s office to ask a question. I can always send an email, but it’s nice to discuss questions and interact one-on-one when needed.
3. Overcommunicate Activity Instructions
I appreciate professors who overcommunicate instructions in their online courses. In a face-to-face environment, students can raise their hands and ask for clarification when something isn’t clear. But that’s not as easy to do online.
For example, during a class Zoom meeting last week my professor tried to split the class into breakout rooms. Unfortunately, the professor didn’t explain the assignment before doing so. We were split off from the main lecture into small groups without a clue of what we were supposed to do. Piecing together the instructions on a group chat was difficult and frustrating. If professors create foolproof instructions that are written down and easily accessible, students will have a much easier time completing assignments.
4. Review Online Etiquette
Finally, class virtual meetings can be extra awkward. I don’t enjoy seeing fellow classmates lay in bed or listening to them eat a bag of chips for lunch (yes, this has already happened). I know teaching online etiquette isn’t in the course learning outcomes, but it would help if professors asked students to follow a set of rules (like this Zoom etiquette). A few simple rules—muting microphones, looking presentable, and eliminating distractions—could go a long way.
I know students and professors miss the face-to-face engagement of our classes, but we can still enjoy a riveting learning experience. As an online student, I’ve found online learning to be engaging when professors over-communicate directions and carefully dedicate time, tools, and resources for group and one-on-one interaction.
Thank you to all of the teachers and instructors who are working so hard to teach us during this pandemic.
Abby works with the content marketing team at GoReact, the best way to give feedback on student videos. She is currently studying communications at Brigham Young University. Abby has previously worked in human resources, as a custom specialist, and as a volunteer in Russia. In her spare time, she enjoys skiing, cookie dough, and spending time with her family.