How to Thrive in an Online Classroom
On Monday, many students will embark on a brand new experience: online classes.
As a proactive measure against the spread of COVID-19, Babson College transitioned all classes fully online through the end of the Spring semester.
Babson isn’t new to online learning—the College has offered MBA classes in a blended learning format since 2003—but for some, this experience will be new, different, and unfamiliar.
To help ease the transition and set students up for success, we asked experts from the Babson community what advice they have for students embarking on online learning for the first time.
Develop a Routine
Chances are you had a routine established for attending classes in person. In the shift to virtual learning, try to re-create that routine as much as possible.
“Get dressed and give yourself time to get to class, which now means setting up your webcam or home classroom,” advised Liz Gallinaro MBA’19, a blended learning alumna.
Mike Schultz MBA’02, president of RAIN Group, shares similar advice.
“If you’re doing video, imagine you are going to a corporate office in an internship,” said Schultz, who will host a webinar on virtual learning on April 2. “Get yourself ready like you really have someplace to go! There’s a mindset to getting ready.”
When you’re sitting down for class, make sure you have the supplies you need—which may include a pen and paper for note-taking. “Take notes on real paper rather than your computer,” said Gallinaro. “Then, you can still see what’s happening in class on your screen.”
Test Your Tech
“Getting familiar with the wide range of technologies your faculty will use before you get back into your classes will help to ensure you can concentrate less on the tech or the delivery, and more on the content,” said Eric Palson MBA’09, director of academic technology at Babson.
His advice: “Jump in now and learn a little about the tools that will help you keep learning while online.”
Among those tools: Canvas, Babson’s learning management system, to all course material, along with discussion boards and a studio for video creation. Webex is Babson’s tool for virtual meetings; your professor may use it to share documents and interactive media, invite students to share content, and engage with you and your classmates in real time. IT is hosting practice sessions in advance of Monday’s online learning launch; join one to test your tools in real time.
Ensure you have access to, and everything is compatible with, your computer. Having issues? Email IT (email@example.com) for help.
Discussions are still a critical component to class. Actively participate in these discussions.
“Ask your classmates to elaborate on the points that you find interesting,” said Patrick Pawlicki MBA’19, a blended learning graduate. “This usually leads to conversations getting more narrow, but also results in people picking real-life examples that demonstrate their thoughts which can bring concepts to life.”
“Social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation. Rely on (and in return help) your classmates to thrive in an online environment,” wrote Keith Rollag, Murata Dean of the Graduate School, in an email to students.
Stay connected with your classmates and your professors, too. You can’t walk into an office on campus, but you can still connect with your faculty one on one.
“A few of my favorite distance learning experiences were office hours, where we could virtually connect with the professor in a Google Hangout,” said Noah Shifman MBA’19, who also completed the blended learning program.
As with any experience, you get out what you put in, said Shifman. “If you are engaged in class, looking to contribute to the conversation and move discussions forward, this will be an interesting experience for you just like it is when you are physically in the classroom.”
“It’s really not that much different thriving in an online class than it is in a real class. Show up! Show up with your energy. Show up with your homework done. Show up prepared to invest in yourself, your learning, your future,” said Schultz.
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