The move from in-person classes to remote learning means a transition in learning environments, approaches, and strategies. We’ve compiled some tips and resources to help you become a successful online learner. Please remember to be patient with yourself, your classmates, and your instructors.
Before you begin, consider the following:
Learning space: Do you have the environment you need to focus and work? Consider establishing a designated work space and making it as comfortable as possible. Limited on space and quiet? Use headphones and quiet background music that might help you focus. YouTube is a good option for free study music – the ONDAS Student Center and Transfer Student Center peers love LoFi hip hop radio.
Learning tools: All UCSB students have access to the G Suite: Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Hangouts, and more. Familiarize yourself with these useful learning and social tools, and remember to check your email every day. GauchoSpace will house material for most, if not all, of your courses. Zoom can be used for classes, office hours, and group meetings. This site also offers tips for GauchoSpace and Zoom.
Technology: You will need access to a computer, ideally with camera capabilities. Students can rent a free Chromebook from UCSB. Do you have access to reliable internet? Visit the Internet Access & Technology page for more options.
Syllabi: Read your syllabus for each class carefully! Each class will have its own requirements. Be sure to check whether your class is meeting live on Zoom/other technology (synchronous) or if you are expected to complete the course material at your own pace (asynchronous). Regardless of this, pay close attention to your deadlines. For help understanding your syllabi, visit CLAS and view the workshop titled Learning Online: Three Exercises.
Resources & Strategies for UCSB Students
Learning online will likely mean you need to practice study habits that differ to ones practiced during face-to-face instruction. Below are some suggested strategies and tools to try out for online learning:
- Exercises for online learning from CLAS: logon to myCLAS and search for the Academic Skills workshop titled Learning Online: Three Exercises.
- Reading effectively using the SQ3R method
- Distributed practice: Break up your studying into short sessions distributed across time - the opposite of cramming at the last minute.
- Practice testing: Getting something wrong can help you retain the right answer. More practicing is better, and the best practice tests are the ones that force you to do free recall, not just recognize the right answer. More practice tests are better than fewer.
- Self-explanation: Having to explain to yourself why something is correct or how information fits together significantly aids learning. The practice of relating it to other information makes this different from just summarizing.
(Cook, Kennedy, & McGuire 2013; Dunlosky, 2013; McDaniel & Bratter, 2020)
Remote learning might mean that you have less structure in your day. It's very tempting to sleep in each day and put off tasks until you really have to do it. However, that is not an effective way to manage your time or facilitate your learning.
Use your Google Calendar and create some structure for your time. Having a routine and entering it into your calendar is helpful for tracking whether you're also taking care of your mental and physical health. Breaks, exercise, and fresh air are necessary!
The ONDAS Student Center Peer Mentors offer helpful advice in these videos:
If you prefer print resources, access CLAS Time Management and Calendar Sheets here.
Everyone has their own preferences for note-taking, but you may want to try different strategies for an online course.
Just because you can rewatch a video or look at slides online doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take notes. Otherwise, you’ll just be re-reading or rewatching a lot, which isn’t a very effective learning technique.
You'll most likely be using a single screen, so you'll have to balance viewing your video/participating in discussion with note-taking. Many guides about online learning recommend you take handwritten notes to vary the media you are using. You can pause videos and note timestamps in your notes to return to spots later.
Learn new strategies from our ONDAS Student Center Graduate Student Mentor:
Now, more than ever, it's important to take care of ourselves and our mental health. At times, this experience may get frustrating and stressful, but we know you'll get through this. Below are resources for incorporating mindfulness into the remote learning experience from Dr. Virginia Beaufort, Director of the Undergraduate Mentorship Program.
Mindfulness Techniques for Concentration & Focus:
Remote learning might feel isolating, but it doesn't have to be a lonely experience. We highly recommend staying connected to your instructors, classmates, friends, and family during this time. It's important to feel connection and community.
Participate in class discussions, online forums, and virtual office hours. Contribute your ideas and don't be afraid to ask questions! Most likely, you're asking a question that someone else also has.
Online study groups are possible! Connect with classmates through GauchoSpace and form accountability buddies. Having a friend to discuss assignments, review material, and work through pain points with is important. Considering using one of these video/chat tools to meet:
- Zoom (UCSB account)
- Google Hangouts (UCSB account)
For tips on how to form and structure your virtual study group, check out this video from the ONDAS Student Center Peer Mentors.
It's important to check your UCSB email daily. You'll want to pay attention to emails from your instructors but also notifications that you may be receiving from GauchoSpace and other online learning tools.
Compose clear email messages and practice good email etiquette. In a large course, your professor might be receiving a high volume of emails. Please leave time for email messages as it may take some time to get back to you.
- Use your UCSB email address
- Address your instructor professionally
- Tell them your name and what class you are in
- State your question or request
- If appropriate, state what you would like to see happen
- End with a salutation
- Sign your full name
Below is an example from a Transfer Student Center Peer Educator:
Additional Learning Support
Please remember that you also have access to the following resources remotely:
- Office hours with professors and TAs
- CLAS: groups, drop-ins, workshops, & Academic Skills consultations
- EOP Counselors
- ONDAS Student Center & Transfer Student Center Professional Staff: OSC Staff Zoom Office Hours, TSC Staff Zoom Office Hours
- Graduate Student Mentors: ONDAS Student Center, Transfer Student Center
- Peer Mentors: ONDAS Student Center, Transfer Student Center, Educational Opportunity Program
- ONDAS Student Center Peer Mentors put together this list of FREE online resources that center on organization, productivity, and self-care.