Online courses present unique challenges. Without the regular, in-person meetings of classroom learning, students have fewer opportunities to connect with classmates and professors. Online courses require students to exercise more disciplin in setting their own schedule, to take more proactive steps to engage with the course material, and to actively seek out opportunities to work directly with classmates and professors.
The following guides and tools can help you adjust to an online learning environment, so that you can get the most out of your online courses.
Online Learning Basics
4 Tips for Online Class Success
- Create a Workspace: Designating a specific area of your home as your workspace will help you focus during lectures, study group sessions, and while doing homework. It's important that you separate the workspace from other spaces in your home. If you don't have room for a physically separate space (like a dedicated desk or a home office) use consistent routines to create the separation. For example: if you work at your kitchen table, create a routine where you set up all of your supplies every morning and then put everything away at night. The process of setting up and then taking apart your workspace each day can help you transition between "work mode" and "rest mode". Note that your bed should never serve as your workspace because this can interfere with healthy sleep.
- Manage Your Time: Without the routine of attending class in the same room on the same day at the same time each week, you will have to be even more proactive than usual with your time management for online courese. This is especially true for situations where the professor does not require the class to meet virtually on a set schedule (for example, using pre-recorded lectures that students watch on their own time). At the beginning of the semester experiment with the day of the week, time of day, and duration of time that you set aside for each online course. This will help you discover what schedule actually works best for you. Once you find out what is most effective for you, lock that schedule into your planner or calendar and stick to it as if you were attending the course in person.
- Use All Of the Available Resources: CSN makes so many resources available to students that it can be overwhelming at times. You may not even know what you have access to, even if you've been as CSN studnet for a long time. Make sure that you are fully supported in your education by taking the time to get familiar with the many resources available to you. Begin with those things your professors provide: course syllabi, study guides, and resource lists. Review all of the resources provided on this webpage. CSN has also assembled a detailed list of resources that includes general and covid-specific resources provided by the college, local government, and the community.
- Familiarize Yourself With the Technology: If your online course requires you to use technology that is new to you, it can be extremely difficult to get comfortable enough to actually focus on the coursework. CSN has assembled step-by-step guides for the most commonly used programs at our institution, including Canvas and Microsoft Teams. Read further on this webpage for additional technology guides.
Netiquette for Communicating With Professors
Navigating an online class can be a challenge, especially if you’re feeling unsure of how to communicate with your professors successfully in a digital environment. This quick guide will show you how to easily build rapport with your professors by using proper netiquette, so you can spend less time worrying over emails, and more time focusing on your education.
What is netiquette?
Netiquette is a combination of the words “internet” and “etiquette”. Netiquette is the code of proper behavior for online communications such as email and discussion boards.
Why is netiquette important in an online class?
A college environment is professional and respectful, much like a workplace. Students, faculty, and staff are expected to communicate with each other respectfully and courteously, not only in person, but online too. Using proper netiquette and communication skills can help you develop good working relationships with your professors, feel more confident in your interactions, and set you up for success throughout your courses and beyond.
How do I apply netiquette in my classes?
Netiquette should be applied any time you communicate with your professors (or your classmates in writing). Whether you’re writing an email or posting on a class discussion board on Canvas, make sure that you format your message to include a greeting, the body of the message, and a closing.
When writing the body of your message, always use complete sentences and proper spelling, grammer, and punctuation. Including emojis can be appropriate, as long as they are used sparingly.
This format is formal and professional, but it doesn't have to be complicated. Here’s an example:
I’ve been reading through the material for Chapter 6, but I’m stumped on what question 15 on the homework is asking for. Will you be free sometime this week to go over this together?
You can adjust this basic template to communicate with anyone, regardless of the situation.
Additional examples of appropriate greetings and closings:
Greetings: Good morning/afternoon/evening, Hello (name), Greetings
Closings: Thank you, Sincerely, Warm regards, Best regards, Regards, Best wishes
Online Test Taking
Online Study Groups
Starting a Study Group
Starting a study group for the first time can seem daunting, but it only takes 3 simple steps to get started.
Contact Your Classmates
Your first step is to let your classmates know that you are looking to start a group. You can do this yourself by emailing the class directly, or reaching out to your professor.
If you plan to contact your class directly, make sure your message explains what your goals and needs are for the group, how many people you hope to recruit, how often you’d like to meet, and how people can contact you about joining. Some students might be more likely to relate to a fellow student in need! Not sure how to start? Try using this template and adjusting as needed:
My name is (insert name). I’m a (insert major) major at (insert school). I’m interested in starting an online study group for this course. I'm looking for 4 to 5 other students to get together every other week to do test prep together and workshop each other’s writing assignments. We will meet in our study group through an online platform at a time that is most convenient for each participant. Below are the best ways to contact me:
I’m really excited to hear from you all and start this new semester together!
If you don't feel comfortable contacting the whole class yourself, you can always ask your professor to post an announcement on Canvas or email the class to share the opportunity to form a study group. Some students might be more likely to read a message directly from the professor. When you send the request to your professor, make sure to include all of the details you want provided in the announcement, including how classmates can contact you. Below is a sample email you can copy and paste, and adjust as needed.
Choose a Platform
Once you have a group of interested students, work together to choose an online platform for your meetings. Your group needs to identify a platform that everyone can easily access, and which will function well for the group’s needs. You can use this guide to help you make your decision ((link to video platform guide)).
Set Your Schedule
Try using a tool like Doodle Poll or Google Forms to figure how when and how often everyone in the group can meet. Then, take advantage of Outlook calendars to send invites to the group for each session. Make sure the invites include a link for the video conferencing platform where appropriate, and consider including any details about the topic or tasks for each session (I.e.: studying for final exam, feedback on outlines, reviewing weekly reading)
Running Your First Meeting
Get your new study group off to a great start with 3 easy steps.
- Get Aquainted: You’ll be working together and supporting each other for a whole semester, so take a few minutes to get to know one another. Introduce yourself, share your major, and talk about some of your goals and concerns for this course. Then, try an ice breaker or other game. This will help your group shake off some awkwardness and make it easier to jump in and get to work.
- Make a Game Plan: When you start a study group it is important to establish the group's collective goals for the semester. Ensure that all your teammates have either a physical or digital copy of the syllabus, then read through it together. Identify due dates for assignments, special projects, and exams (this is where planners or a shared calendar will come in handy). Now, decide on some common goals for your time together. For example: will your group focus on preparing for tests together, workshopping each other’s writing assignments, discussing reading assignments? Identifying the purpose of your meetings will ensure that everyone is on the same page and knows what to expect and how to prepare for each meeting.
- Divide Up the Work: The benefit of a study group is sharing your skills and knowledge to help each other learn more effectively. Once you know what the professor is requiring of you for the class and have agreed on some common goals for the group, you can decide how to distribute the labor. Start by having each person share their strengths and interests. Based on everyone’s answer, you’ll be able to identify how each person can help the rest of the group better understand the material. For example: if one group member is deeply interested in the reading for a particular week, they might enjoy leading the group discussion of that reading. Or, if another group member is highly skilled at breaking down complex concepts, they can help lead the group through their process to help everyone improve that skill.
Video Conferencing Software
MyCoyoteSuccess Video Guide
MyCoyoteSuccess is a series of video workshops available to CSN students for free covering study skills, career planning, emotional intelligence, and much more. The guide below provides a summary of each workshop and includes additional details like video length and whether the video includes activities and supplemental materials. Browse the workshops by topic to decide which ones will be most helpful to you.
You can access MyCoyoteSuccess through GoCSN. Just click on the MyCoyoteSuccess tile. You may be asked to sign in (use the same credentials you use for goCSN). You'll be redirected to the Learner Dashboard. From there, click Student Success Workshops to get started!