Take charge of your remote learning
When taking online classes away from campus, you will be managing your coursework through internet connections that may not be as fast as what you would have when you’re physically on campus. These steps will help you if you need to improve your connection, or to find alternative ways to connect while you are maintaining social distance. Having a reliable internet connection is crucial for completing your coursework online.
Knowing your connection speed can help you figure out what your connection can handle. It’s good to try multiple speed tests to get a fuller picture of your speed over time—reliable options for speed tests include Ookla, Speed of Me, and DSL Reports. Basic minimums:
- General websurfing, email, or social media: 1 Mbps
- Video conferencing: 1-4 Mbps
- Standard definition (SD) video streaming: 3-4 Mbps
- HD video streaming: 5-8 Mbps
Most DSL or satellite carriers can offer speeds that meet these basic requirements. Try to connect to the services you will use most often to see how they perform. You can also join a ‘test’ Zoom meeting here.
Contact your internet carrier and ask about the availability and cost of higher tiers of service. You also can consider getting a WiFi hotspot from a local cellular carrier, or tie it to your mobile device (be aware that this may raise your data costs). Many internet and cellular carriers are offering discounts on internet service upgrades during the pandemic, and many have signed a pledge not to cancel service or charge late fees during the crisis. Low-cost internet plans are being offered by many carriers and some government programs and may be available in your area.
If your connection meets the minimum Mbps requirement, you still will need to do some optimizing to get your work done. For example, when it’s time for online work, be sure that your connection is as open as possible: talk with your family/roommates to agree on the best times to schedule your coursework each day. And setting up a schedule for when coursework, gaming, entertainment, etc. will happen can help you make sure you have the time you need to do your academic work.
If you do not have a strong internet connection on your home network or personal WiFi, you’ll need to explore local community-access WiFi or other open networks. Once you’ve found one or more good resources, develop a routine of going to your WiFi location once or twice a day to upload assignments, ask questions, and download new content. Remember that while you’re at a public-access internet connection, you should stick with sites that are secure: look for HTTPS in the URL. And remember to maintain social distance by remaining outdoors or in your vehicle, if possible. Be sure to let your professors and instructors know that this is the method you are using to keep up with your coursework. Possibilities include:
- Connecting through eduroam: Your UD network credentials can get you connected to high-speed WiFi networks at eduroam-participating educational institutions across the US and in more than 100 countries around the world.
- Several commercial carriers like Comcast/Xfinity and Charter/Spectrum are offering free WiFi connectivity at thousands of hotspot locations throughout the US during this crisis. Check with your local providers for details.
- Schools, community centers, churches, and libraries: Many community organizations and government facilities offer open WiFi, and it often can be accessed from the parking lot.
- Businesses and restaurants: Many local businesses may offer open WiFi as well (please observe current public health guidelines).
Prepare to Learn Online
- Set up your “office”—workspace, privacy, materials.
- Share your work needs with roommates and family (working times, boundaries).
- Check your devices (test & update) before classes start again (Not sure what help you need? Visit this page to make sure you are up to date).
- Familiarize yourself with Zoom, UD’s video conferencing platform. Here’s a PowerPoint to take you through the basics. If your professor is using Canvas, be sure that you stay up to date on information shared there.
- Plan your time—expect tasks to take longer and avoid multitasking (visit our Time Management workshop).
- Treat online class time like in-person class time. Turn your phone to silent, close non-course related browser tabs, etc.
- Communicate any challenges related to technology, internet access, or other remote learning issues to your advisor and your faculty as necessary. Even if you do not have reliable internet or a dedicated computer, your faculty and advisors will work with you to help you achieve your goals. With compassion and flexibility we can rise to meet this challenge together.
- Take advantage of online office hours and email to connect with prof/TA. Keep in mind that different professors may use different ways of connecting (such as a Canvas Discussion forum, a Google doc, or other virtual platform).
- Find ways to connect with classmates to discuss material (Zoom, Google Drive and Google Docs, GroupMe, WhatsApp, etc.)
- If working collaboratively on activities or projects:
- Use online collaboration tools like Zoom to meet regularly
- Set frequent meeting dates and times as soon as possible after the assignment is handed out
- Set agendas for each meeting and use a shared tool like a Google Doc to keep notes and work together
- Communicate with one another outside of the meetings: don’t be afraid to ask for help or ask groupmates for status updates of shared tasks
- Connect with UD tutoring and library resources
- Use Zoom or other tools to set up group study sessions and keep connected with classmates
- Use your most effective study strategies (visit our workshops: note-taking, working with texts, preparing for tests, test-taking)
- Test-taking tips:
- Avoid stress due to discovering technological difficulties at the last minute.
- Review instructions for taking the exam well in advance, including the date, time and length of time allotted. If you have any questions, ask the instructor before the test day.
- At least an hour before you plan to take the test, make sure that your computer is connected to the internet and pointed to the exam site. If you tend to have problems with WiFi access, this can give you time to relocate.
- If a technical problems DOES arise, take a screen shot and send it to your instructor; follow up with an email after the exam.
- Make your location as distraction-free as possible and be sure to have the materials you need for the exam.
- The OAE’s online Test-Taking workshop is a good source of tips for doing your best during any exam.
- UD’s Professional & Continuing Education shares excellent tips for test-taking online.
- Avoid stress due to discovering technological difficulties at the last minute.
- Do something that will bring you joy!
- Create a daily schedule to help you maintain a consistent focus
- Build breaks into your work time: do something away from screens, if you can
- Stay connected with friends, family – check on your friends and family (text, calls, Zoom, Facetime)
- Make space for “me time”: projects, adventures
- Eat, exercise, sleep, follow guidelines to stay healthy
- Address the stress: breathe, play with your pet, take walks…
Key Resources at UD
- OAE tutoring: our individual, drop-in/PASS and group tutoring are online!
- OAE academic support: online study skills workshops and individualized help.
- UD’s Students Learning Remotely: Excellent detail on UD’s move to remote learning.
- Tips for Online Learners from UD’s Professional & Continuing Services.
- Your Academic Advisor: They’re here for you when you need them to think through decisions related to your class registration.
- UD Library: Librarians continue to be on duty to answer your questions.
- UD Writing Center: Online help–both real-time and asynchronous.
- UD Counseling Center: Staff on duty, plus the UD Helpline and Crisis Text Line
- Excellent advice for making the transition work: Prepared by the University of Virginia, these resources will help you shift from life as an on-campus student with established routines and regular in-person access to support to life as a distance learner who must establish new routines and adapt to new modes of learning and communicating.
- Suddenly Online: 5 steps developed by Indiana University/Bloomington to help students develop a new daily work plan, succeed in online classes, and stay connected with friends and loved ones.
- Learn Remotely: Harvard University’s Academic Resource Center offers advice to help students get the most out of learning online.
- How to Succeed in Online College Classes: Advice for planning for success in an online environment.