As more students turn to online education systems in the wake of COVID-19 / coronavirus, I thought it would be good to provide some advice on how to best make the transition from physical classrooms to online and video-based learning.
Whether you start taking online classes at your regular school or you start taking advantage of video-chat tutoring sessions, here are some things to keep in mind so you can get the most out of virtual learning:
1. For 1-1 online tutoring, make sure you and your tutor have a whiteboard app and screen sharing.
Note: Usually Skype or Google Hangouts works best for 1-1 online tutoring. These programs include a chatroom and don’t get too complicated with audio and video.
One of the biggest downsides to online learning is that you are not in the same room as your instructor, so the way to minimize this disadvantage as much as possible is through technology that allows you to share your screen or use a shared workspace. One of the ways to accomplish this is with a whiteboard app. There are several kinds to choose from, so it really depends on you and your tutor’s preferences. (Usually math instructors favor the whiteboard apps.)
Another useful tool is Google Drive, which is much better than the chatroom text box to convey complicated ideas, especially if you are working on essays or writing concepts. The great thing about Google Drive, too, is that you will have a record of all the work completed (the same is usually true for the whiteboard apps, too).
2. For online courses, take notes with a physical notebook.
For any kind of distance learning or digital classroom, it is tempting to read everything on the screen because, after all, it is provided to you in a single, compact space.
However, since your classroom experience is slightly less engaging because of the person-to-screen format, you should force yourself to be more active with the learning by writing notes in a separate notebook. You can prevent yourself from mindlessly clicking through learning modules or glazing over during videos, and you will have more personalized and concise notes from your lessons.
Obviously motivation is a major factor here, and sometimes you may feel the need to write too much (or nothing at all). I would just give it a try and not overthink writing the notes. If you feel like you are getting too stressed over how much and when, then write summaries of your lessons so you can measure how much you actually understand.
3. For all types of online learning, place yourself in the right physical space.
Just because you are not in a classroom doesn’t mean where you set up your laptop or computer or tablet isn’t important.
For most students, a bedroom should work just fine, but in the event that you are in a busy home, try to isolate yourself as much as possible and make a point that you are “entering” a study and learning zone once the tutoring session or class begins.
If you are in a place where your parents or siblings or even your pet can distract, then you are doing yourself a disservice (none of them can interrupt you at school!). Of course they mean well, and parent involvement is typically great, but give yourself plenty of space and if you are simply working through online modules (no direct teacher instruction), give yourself plenty of study breaks (typically a 5-minute break per hour) so your brain can recharge!
We will be sure to update parents on any changes to our classes and tutoring based on CDC and local health recommendations. For now, our classes are running like normal, but we are definitely taking extra precautions with sanitation and cleanliness. We plan to take any precaution necessary.
Check out our high school, middle school, and elementary academic classes and tutoring. We offer onsite and online sessions for test prep, subject classes, and general academic enrichment. Looking for some extra test-prep help during Spring Break? Consider our SAT/ACT spring break classes!