When you first begin an online learning program, it can seem like a lonely undertaking. Working alone on the computer can feel isolating. However, it does not have to be that way! Here are five helpful tips to enhance your connection to your courses, classmates, and professors while learning online.
“Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose”
As an online student, your days are full and busy with work, family, and life. This football team motto from the TV show Friday Night Lights is an excellent reminder for individuals too. As you sit down to your online classwork, take a moment to center yourself and set your intention for this session. Close your eyes, focus on your breathing for two minutes, and offer a short prayer. Ask God to help you clear your mind of distractions and to help you focus on what you are learning. Ask Him to help you find clear insights and connections as you work. As you end your work session, close with a brief prayer of gratitude for your progress.
Create a dedicated workspace and dedicated time to work
Work towards scheduling time for your classwork in your daily calendar. Dedicate a place in your home or environment where you go to accomplish your classwork. If possible, make it a place with as few distractions as possible, including family members who may take your attention away from your classwork. While working, silence or put away your phone or any other media that might take your attention off your work. Experiment with using a music playlist selected for studying from your streaming service or other soft background sounds.
Take an active role in your classes
The first post in The Discussion Forum provides you an opportunity to introduce yourself to your professor and classmates. Share activities and interests you may be involved in with others. This can help create connections with other students who may share your hobbies or work interests. Read other students’ threads to see who might share an interest or perhaps live nearby. On subsequent posts on The Discussion Forum in your class, take care to make thoughtful posts to other responses in the thread and then review what other students have posted. What ideas do their posts suggest for you? Do you see a new approach that you had not previously considered? Respond to others’ posts, perhaps with a clarifying question or adding to what the original poster wrote. Check back in the days that follow your original post to see what other ideas classmates share that you had not thought of. Are there responses to your post? Can you glean insights from what your professor shares in the Discussion Forum? The Discussion Forum is not only an opportunity to show what you know but also to pique your thinking with the insights of others. This can be a rich opportunity for learning and creating connections in your course.
Know there is strength in numbers
Just because you are on the computer by yourself does not mean you have to do it alone. Build on what you learn from your classmates in The Discussion Forum by developing an online study group. Consider using Microsoft Teams or Zoom platforms to meet with other students. Use the study group to surround yourself with others who will bring out the best in your work. These opportunities are also a great way to build networking connections as you go further in your career field. Finally, consider getting together for more than classwork. Host virtual get-togethers during your experience to enjoy the comradery of your classmates who are going through similar experiences.
Lean into the knowledge and expertise of your professors
Carefully read and review the announcements, online lectures, and discussion postings your professors share at the beginning of each class work session you begin. Review feedback your professors provide on your graded work. If you have questions, you can email the professor with clarifying questions. First, place your course name/number/section and a short description of the topic you are inquiring about in the subject line. Then state the topic you’re unclear about and ask your questions. Make sure to format your email correctly and write in a professional format, so your professor understands your question(s). Keep an eye on your email for your professor’s replies in the days ahead so you can respond quickly to any clarifying questions the professor may ask.
Creating connections is an essential focus of online programs at Bluefield University. For more information on our online undergraduate and graduate programs, visit bluefield.edu or email [email protected].