You may be asking: How will this work? What should you prepare for? You have just finished up half of the semester attending face-to-face classes and real-time lectures. Now what?
Your professors have been working diligently to prepare the best online courses possible. We have had numerous face-to-face sessions, one-on-one sessions, and online sessions to brainstorm and collaborate how this will be accomplished. Faculty members across campus have been engaged and thinking creatively about this online challenge. We even created a massive online course for all faculty so that they can receive ongoing professional enhancement and be able to assist students as issues come up. This ongoing initiative found us working virtually all weekend and late into most nights last week! We really want you to succeed, and we feel ready on our end.
From my conversations with faculty across the campus and my own teaching online experience (over 20 years), here are some things to consider to make your online courses run smoothly:
- Log in to Canvas and UMHB e-mail daily to keep up with your course(s).
Yes, daily! No, you cannot skip a week and expect to catch up later. Set up an electronic calendar with reminders to bug you until you log in and participate. My favorite calendar is Google Calendar, but Zoho Calendar and 30 Boxes are also decent, free calendars. Log in and get a feel for your new online courses and (maybe) new due dates. Professors had to adjust the course calendar to make up for the extra week of Spring Break. Adjust your due dates accordingly.
- This is not Spring Break Week 3.
The number of hours you would have attended classes are translated into the number of hours you may have to do things electronically. AND, each credit hour that the course is worth is expected to take you double that in external activities (reading, studying, practicing, etc.). For example, a 3 credit hour course should have about 3 hours of things for you to do while online, and about 6 hours of studying, practicing, or reading. Your weeks are going to be really busy!
- Schedule time each day to work on your online classes.
Plan on logging in and working on your online classes consistently each day. This way, you will treat your online classes as part of your schedule. Think of your school like your job – hours in front of the screen are the hours you “pay” yourself.
- Get to know online resources available to UMHB online students.
Use tutor.com, turnitin.com, and other “free to UMHB” student sites. Also, make use of the incredible free resources on the library homepage.
- Professors want student interactions, too!
Even though most courses are not going to be offered in “real-time,” we would still like to hear from students. And, we would like to hear about how the content of our courses (much of which we labored over to present to you in an online format) made a difference in your everyday life. How will you use it in the future? How do you see it as a valuable part of what you want to do when you graduate? Be sure to share these things with us! Plus, share how you are doing – we care about you and your family.
- Set up your courses to send e-mail updates for discussion boards and new course content.
If Dr. Reallygood Professor sends out an Announcement in the middle of the week, you want to be sure to read it – she may provide a clue to one assignment that you need to get started. You can find out how to do this in the “settings” link on the left column of Canvas. Then, remember to check your official UMHB school e-mail every day.
- It’s okay to reach out to Professors for clarification through e-mail and course chats.
We would rather you do this than turn in a below-par assignment because you didn’t understand the directions. Ask us to explain it in a different way, or send us your draft (way early) to see if you are on the right track. Newsflash: Just like professors vary the way they conduct face-to-face classes; professors may have different expectations in their online courses. Don’t expect all of us to have everything due on a certain date, for example. Pay attention to due dates and reach out for clarification when necessary.
This is not an exhaustive list, but these are some things to keep in mind the next few weeks while you are taking online classes. Log in to Canvas and UMHB e-mail every day to check out every class, prepare for multiple hours of activities each week for each class, schedule time each day/week to work on each class, use online resources, and connect with your professors. These things will make a major difference in your online experiences!