Editorial: Succeeding in online classes

The ISD Editorial Board argues that we should be more accepting of online courses and offers tips for success. 

The ISD Editorial Board argues that we should be more accepting of online courses and offers tips for success. 

Editorial Board

It’s time to embrace online classes.

As we enter our fourth week of the semester and the first round of exams, it seems like a good time to reflect on hybrid and online classes.

While President Wendy Wintersteen has made it clear that the university has no plans to pack everyone up and move to an entirely online format, Student Government is currently debating a resolution calling on Iowa State to do just that.

Regardless if Iowa State decides to send everyone home to take online classes, we can say with reasonable confidence that no student is going to find themself on campus more and more as the semester progresses. So, your opinion on online instruction aside, it’s something we should, at the very least, accept and, at the very most, embrace.

Online classes do have many benefits. For some students, the size of their department limits the number of course offerings and times for any given class. Combine that with prerequisites and many students have very little flexibility when planning their class schedule, especially as they get into upper level classes. 

Online instruction allows those students to better plan out their class schedules. If professors choose to record their lectures, students can block all of their classes together in the morning or afternoon, or they can space them out and use the in-between time to get homework done or study.

Depending on how often professors post, students may even be able to get their school work done before the end of the week, allowing them to take a longer weekend or work more hours at a job.

Of course, online instruction does have its challenges, but there are a number of things students can do to improve their performance in online courses.

For starters, watch your lecture videos.

There’s very little room to complain if you aren’t making the minimum effort.

If you struggle with online classes, try separating your school life from the rest of your life. Go somewhere on campus to study and complete assignments.

Wi-Fi has been extended near Park Library and the Memorial Union so you can study outside, socially distanced, while the weather is nice. Definitely don’t study in the same place you sleep, aka your bed. 

Make a study group with friends or classmates to keep yourself accountable. Download an app such as PocketPoints or Forest to keep you off of your phone while you study or watch lectures. Put headphones in and watch lectures at 1.5 or 2 times speed to force yourself to focus on the material at hand.

If you struggle to take notes during online lectures, find a quiet place, open Google Docs and use the voice to text feature to transcribe your professor’s lecture. This can be useful if your professor isn’t putting as much material on the slides or has switched his or her style of lecture presentation to accommodate the online aspect.

Maybe it’s not the virtual aspect but simply that your classes are just hard this semester and you don’t feel like you have anyone you can go to for help. The Academic Success Center is still providing services like tutoring and supplemental instruction in a virtual format. This can be especially helpful for students who have COVID-19 or are high-risk, as it enables these students to get help regardless of their situation.

Online instruction and learning can be hard. Students and professors are both learning how to succeed in this new virtual environment.

What’s important is that we recognize the challenges and continue to work to overcome them.

Virtual will probably be a part of the “new normal,” so take this opportunity to learn a skill that it would appear all departments are now utilizing.