This semester is different. If you are like me, you have the majority of your classes online. Many professors are trying a “flipped classroom.” This is code for you to have 5+ hours of recorded lectures to watch and then you also need to meet synchronously to chat. Other professors are having a hard time figuring out Zoom. There’ve been audio screeches and video cutouts. If I had a quarter for every time Zoom displayed the message “Your network is unstable.” I would be rich. To make things worse, you aren’t seeing any of your friends in person which makes the traditional Lobo community seem nonexistent. I am here to say I see you and I feel exactly what you are feeling. So, here is some advice on making the completely unconventional semester a little less hard.
Yes, this semester, having virtual classes, is going to make you work really hard. This might be in the form of watching many lectures outside of class hours or actually completing the optional worksheets. However, working hard doesn’t mean you have to stop working smart. Work hard at paying attention during your entire synchronous lectures – not checking social media and playing video games in the background. Start dedicating time you would have spent commuting to campus to read a little bit more of the textbook, watching an extra YouTube video, or writing down questions about the lectures so you aren’t working harder than all of us combined when it is time for midterms.
Go to Office Hours
It is more important now than ever, to establish a relationship with your professors. With lectures being online or even completely asynchronous, I am not so sure if I even know when my friends are in my class. It is also really easy to fool yourself that you completely understand the material when you are just in a Zoom call. One of the advantages of virtual classes is virtual office hours. It is even easier to log on during your professor’s office hours to say hi and ask a question about the lecture to just solidify your understanding. This allows your professor to connect the black screen with your name on it to a face. It also allows you to make sure you are actually keeping up with the lectures.
Join a Discord Server
At least in my classes, many of my classes have started a Discord server. Here, it is a lot easier and more casual to talk to classmates. My whole ECE cohort has created a server and has separate channels for each 300, 400, and 500 level courses. We can ask each other questions and set up study sessions. I have even gotten to know more people than I would have met by just classes alone.
Keep Expectations Loose
My final piece of advice is to keep expectations loose. With technical difficulties and changing schedule, the expectation to even have class at a specific time on a specific day might be too high. While it is easy to say, it is hard to do, but a lot of me being upset about classes these last two weeks have been because I had pre-COVID expectations. We cannot deny there is a global pandemic, but we can be quick to adjust and be happy we are still learning during this uncertain time.
I hope this advice helps and at least gets you through one more week of online learning!