Many law school across the country are moving forward an online learning platform in order to protect students, faculty, and staff after the outbreak of COVID-19. Transitioning to remote learning may be new for some of you, but there are ways in which to maximize your experience and to effectively learn from online instruction. This memorandum lists some tips for you as your courses move from the classroom to online learning spaces. Of course, if you have any individual questions, please be sure to set up a meeting with your SEO instructor!
1. Treat an Online Course Like it is an In-person Course
There’s discipline that needs to go into online courses because you are not sitting in a classroom with a professor or others around you. You have to “show up” as if you are going to get real value out of your class. Treat your online class the same way you would your in-person course.
2. Understand Online Learning Practices and Expectations
To successfully learn online, you need to dedicate your time, consistently attend classes, be concentrated with studying, and fully commit to the learning process, just as you would do for a regular course. You should have in mind that when you take an online course, you may have to do the following:
- Fully commit yourself and participate in the virtual classroom as required;
- Learn how to become a bit more tech-savvy;
- Work with others effectively;
- Complete your learning tasks and assignments on time;
- Be self-disciplined.
3. Time Management is Still Important
You now do not have the travel time it takes to go to school, but time management is still critical. Especially with online classes, you might find yourself doing the assignments in a subpar fashion.
Here are some reminders:
- Look at the syllabus weekly and make note of all assignments. Mark them on a calendar you check regularly so you know what workload is coming in the days and weeks ahead.
- Create a weekly schedule that you follow that includes your new routine of not attending classes in-person. Designate certain hours each week to reading, doing practice problems, completing assignments, studying material, and watching any electronic review sessions. Commit to making your online classes and coursework part of your weekly routine, and set reminders for yourself to complete these tasks.
- When working on your assignments, try time-blocking, allotting yourself a certain amount of time for each task before moving on to the next one and setting a timer to keep you accountable.
- Check in with yourself periodically and do knowledge checks. Review everything your online instructions covered and see if you understand it. Try applying what you learned to practice problems to see if you are effectively retaining the information from an electronic medium. This is very important, so you can adjust how you are learning.
4. Create a Regular Study Space and Stay Organized.
Because you will not be in a school setting, it’s important to set up a dedicated learning environment for studying. By completing your work there repeatedly, you’ll begin to establish a comfortable routine. Whether your workspace is your kitchen table, a library, or in a coffee shop, it’s important to determine what type of environment will work best for you. It’s okay to experiment to discover which type of setting boosts your productivity. In turn, setting up a regular workplace or office will also help you to stay organized. Knowing exactly where important dates, handouts, syllabi, books and assignments are will help you keep on track towards your goals. When setting up your study space, make sure you:
- Have a high-speed internet connection;
- Have the required books, materials, and software for the course; and
- Have headphones for listening to lectures or discussions (especially important in shared spaces).
5. Eliminate Distractions
It’s easier to become distracted when you are taking online classes because you are likely to be close to social media, other people, or other obligations at home. The best way to learn to use an online platform is to lessen or eliminate these distractions and set aside time to focus. Exactly how much of a challenge these distractions will prove to be will depend on your own unique personality and situation. Regardless of where you choose to work, consider turning your cell phone off to avoid losing focus every time a text message or notification pops up. Also consider turning these notifications off on your computer. If you’re having trouble resisting the urge to check your email or surf the web, try downloading a website blocker. These applications can help eliminate distractions by blocking the apps or websites that tend to compete for your attention, such as Facebook or Twitter.
6. Actively Participate
Participate in the class’s online course or in a class’s online forum to help you stay engaged and to help you better understand course materials and engage with your professor and classmates. Make sure you still ask questions and talk to your professor. Even if office hours are virtual, utilize the time and mediums to the best of your ability.
7. Take Notes
Just as you would in the classroom, you have to actively take notes and internalize the material. Write down important points.
Taking notes may make it easier to remember the important pieces of information you will need to retain and will assist you in staying engaged in the course.
Although online classes may feel individualized, most online education courses are built around the concept of collaboration, with professors and instructors actively encouraging that students work together to complete assignments and discuss lessons.
9. Join a Study Group
Not being in the classroom anymore may make you feel like you cannot talk to others about the assignments or material. Create a team of students you would like to work with (either in person or virtually) so you can have regular discussions. Pick each other’s brains, see how far each is with the assignments and material, and also discuss and work through challenges you are facing with others.
10. Ask Questions
If you are struggling with a topic or with the online learning platform, please ask questions. Teachers are still there to assist you. Ask questions as soon as you have them.
11. Stay Motivated
Do not underestimate the need to fully commit to your course just because it is in an online platform and not an in-person platform. To make sure you stay motivated and engaged in your online learning experience, consider these following tips:
- Create your new study routine.
- Engage in active learning practices, such as taking notes, answering questions, and participating in the virtual class.
- Remind yourself why you are in law school.
- Reward yourself after completing a challenging task.