Learning in an online environment may be entirely new to some students and normal for others. Luckily for CU Denver Business School students, we have been teaching classes in online formats for more than 20 years. Nearly 50 percent of Business School professors have taught online classes prior to the Spring 2020 semester, and the ones who are new to online teaching have utilized the available resources to quickly adapt their classes to an online learning environment. During this difficult time, the Business School wants to give you every advantage possible to help you succeed in this format. Who better to ask than your professors themselves? Here are some tips on how Business School professors suggest you approach online learning.
Making the Transition to Remote Learning
Switching to online learning is going to be more challenging for some students and professors than others. “Everyone needs to be a little patient as things get figured out,” said Professor John Byrd. Professors may be creating online content from scratch, and they are also aware that students may be adjusting. However, remember that you are responsible for your own learning. Professors will set up notifications and announcements, but it is up to you to check in. One thing you can do is set up extra notifications through canvas to give reminders you may need. “Students need to log in regularly and be aware of due dates,” said Professor Dawn Gregg.
Online classes don’t always have the same structure of in-person classes. Depending on each professor’s choices, you may have a set meeting time in a platform like Zoom, or you might have pre-recorded lectures you can watch on your own time. “Students who suddenly find themselves in online classes need to transition from a passive role in their education to an active one. The structure changes in the online environment. Now you need to take active measures to navigate your classes,” said Professor John Daley.
How Your Professors Have Adapted to These Changes
Some professors are seasoned at teaching online, while others are adjusting to remote learning. Many Business School instructors have taken steps to help students succeed in an online format. “Students are having to adjust to being at home with kids, figuring out how their jobs are changing, how to get essential supplies, and so on,” said John Byrd. “I have shifted due dates back to accommodate the transition.”
Some professors have eliminated assignments or exams, rearranged schedules, made how-to videos, and broken up lectures into smaller pieces. “I’ve done a lot of work to make the material more digestible in the remote learning format,” added Professor John Daley.
Other professors are changing how they teach to better fit the online format. Video and online discussions are one tool that allows students to explore concepts that are typically discussed in face to face lectures. Using announcements and notifications is something they are also utilizing to help students stay on top of the workload.
Transparency is key, and professors are trying to be as clear as possible. Setting consistent schedules for things like quizzes and assignments is part of this. If students have questions, they are also available to help figure out concerns and confusion with the online format. They are here for you during this time.
Advice on Succeeding Academically
The most significant component to success professors emphasized was keeping up with the material. Professors are doing their part to lay out schedules and make everything as digestible as they can. It’s up to students to stay on top and commit sufficient time to do what they need to get done. “If a student gets behind, it is hard to catch up, so they need to stay diligent,” said John Byrd.
A big part of keeping on top of things is making sure you understand the layout of the Canvas course, because every instructor has a different approach to laying out information on their individual course pages. “Canvas is easy to navigate, but you need to log in often and read the syllabus thoroughly,” said Dawn Gregg.
Another key to success is a consistent schedule. “If you previously were in class on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 to 4, log into your classes every Tuesday and Thursday from 10 to 4,” said John Daley. “Not only that, you’ll now have more time since you won’t be commuting to campus. Use it wisely.”
The Advantages of Remote Learning for Students and Professors
While the online format certainly isn’t always ideal, there are plenty of reasons why it has advantages.
Flexibility is a big advantage of online learning. Within the limits of the course schedule, you can set your own time to work on assignments. You can work from wherever you’d like (while following safe social distancing guidelines) and do things on your own time as long as you’re meeting deadlines.
With online learning, students often have the ability to reread or replay lectures and other materials. This gives more time to absorb and better formulate questions or further understanding. With in-person lectures, this is not generally an option.
A third advantage is that online learning gives a larger participation opportunity. Many classes have discussion boards as part of their grading. “Students that are less likely to speak up in in-person classes will get an opportunity to contribute in remote learning formats,” said Dawn Gregg. There is a certain comfort in not physically having to speak up and many students find this format less nerve-wracking.
What to Remember in the Transition to Remote Learning
While transitioning to a new learning format during this time isn’t ideal, helping you succeed is the Business School’s goal. Reach out to your faculty for support. Read schedules and syllabi. Don’t fall behind, and make sure to give yourself time. We’ll get through this together.