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Five Tips for Online Study Success

March 20, 2020

On Monday, March 23, St. John Fisher College students and professors will log onto computers, phones, and tablets to re-engage with their coursework. As the campus community navigates courses delivered in a fully online format, faculty and staff have been hard at work ensuring for a smooth transition. Here, a few faculty members share tips for how to stay successful this semester.

Stay Organized.

Dr. Emily Dane-Staples, associate professor of sport management, encourages using a planner, Google calendar, or other organizational tool to help you stay on top of assignments and tasks. “If instructors give you a weekly lesson plan, input what you can directly into your calendar,” she says.

The influx of videos, links, and course material can be overwhelming. Dr. Jen Cannell, director of the online library media program, says professors should create sections on Blackboard for additional or optional resources. “Less is more.  If you add resources and articles to Blackboard, students will feel that they need to read everything and get overwhelmed quickly,” she says.

Dress the Part.

For synchronous sessions, dress as you would if you were attending class in person.  Cannell, recommends looking at your background before turning on your camera and using a headset if you own one to limit background noise.  Let others in your household know you are in class or meetings and cannot be interrupted.

Show Off Your Space.

Dane-Staples says that she will be posting a video of her home workspaces so students can envision where she is conducting classes and sessions. As an added bonus, they get to meet her cat (and her family, too!). “If students also want to post, there will be a space for them to do that,” she adds.

Picture it like a Puzzle.

Dr. Kristin Picardo, associate professor of biology, says she will use short videos, contextual learning examples, quizzes and tests, and discussion boards to help her students master the content. In addition, students will be able to FaceTime, email, or use the discussion boards for extra help and virtual office hours.

Dane-Staples agrees. “I like to use activities that still have students contributing to an all-class learning space,” she says. “Sort of like a jigsaw puzzle where each person is bringing a piece of the puzzle and only together can we get the full picture.”

Prepare for Anything.

Get a jump on assignments or at least attempt to access the material, says Dane-Staples. “If you wait until a few hours before a task is due, it is inevitable that a) that will be the time when your internet is disrupted; b) your instructor is asleep and can't give clarification; or c) you realize you needed someone else’s input before you could complete your task correctly.”

The College has set up a number of resources for students and faculty. Students can visit the Transitioning to Online Learning resource on Blackboard for information and recommendations to help navigate the transition to online. Professors can join the Continuity of Instruction webinar series and office hour sessions hosted by Katie Sabourin and Robin Schmid.