Online class tips from Grady faculty

Online class tips from Grady faculty

March 24, 2020

With online instruction beginning March 30, we asked Grady College faculty for their best advice to help students succeed with online classes. These instructors have been teaching online classes for several years.

Advice offered comes from:

  • Sabrena Deal, lecturer of public relations
  • Chris Gerlach, academic professional, entertainment & media studies/New Media Institute
  • Karen Russell, Jim Kennedy New Media professor and associate professor of public relations.
  • Welch Suggsassociate professor in journalism and associate director of Grady Sports Media
  • Bart WojdynskiJim Kennedy New Media Professor, journalism

The most common piece of advice from faculty members is: Ask questions.

  • “If you’re confused or finding information that appears to be conflicting, after combing through the information available, contact your professor for clarification. There will inevitably be delays in getting your questions answered, so asking them quickly is the best way to get clarity. Often, professors aren’t aware of access issues students may be facing.” -Sabrena Deal
  • No, seriously, we love to hear from you all.  Whether it’s a general discussion thread or just a quick email, it’s great to know if something is unclear, or if you need more guidance, or…well, anything we can do to help. Remember, many of your professors are teaching online for the first time, but they want to do it well. -Bart Wojdynski
  • Speak up in class discussions, whether it’s in a chat thread or via zoom. Your thoughts make it better for everybody.” -Welch Suggs

Here are more tips from Grady faculty to promote success in online learning.

  • Work when you work best. “Even if your professor is doing a few scheduled things as part of your course, the bulk of keeping up with an online course is always asynchronous – meaning that as long as you meet the deadline, you can do the work in whatever window of time you would like. I’d still highly recommend carving out a regular window of time in which you’re focused on schoolwork and nothing else.” – Bart Wojdynski
  • Check eLC for each class every day. “Read announcements from the instructor and check the calendar to make sure you’re keeping up.” -Karen Russell
  • Write down your deadlines each week. “eLC gives your professors many places to put due dates: in module overviews, in checklists, in the Assignment Dropbox, or on specific content pages, as well as announcements. Different professors may use different options, but creating one master list per week of due dates for all your classes – in whatever way works best for you – can reduce your cognitive overhead.  Plus, just the very act of writing something down increases your odds of remembering it, so it’s an easy trick to keep from forgetting.” -Bart Wojdynski
  • Take good notes. “Whether you’re reading something online, watching a video, or participating in a chat. It’s not that you’re going to be tested on those notes; it’s that you’ll anchor material more firmly in your brain.” – Welch Suggs
  • Slow down to focus on instructions. “Read the instructions twice, ask questions if you don’t understand, and look at the rubric if there’s one provided BEFORE you start work.” -Karen Russell
  • Build a schedule and make it habitual. “Online classes often require an extra dose of discipline as you no longer have the classroom accountability to keep you on track. Therefore, block out times throughout the day that are dedicated purely to working on your class content. Equally important, schedule breaks to do things you love.” – Chris Gerlach
  • Murphy’s Law. “Expect problems with the technology and get things done in advance in case you have trouble posting or submitting an assignment.” -Karen Russell
  • Spread the work out.“Instead of cramming all your work into one or two days a week, I suggest spreading your work time out over five or six work days. You’ll be able to have time to ask questions and receive answers this way. Engaging with the content multiple times in the week will also help with content retention. If you wait and try to complete all the work just before the deadline, you leave no room for technical errors (with the internet, eLC, your computer or otherwise).” Sabrena Deal.
  • Turn on Do Not Disturb during your work session. “This includes all of your devices (mobile, tablet, and computer) within viewing/hearing range. It’s so easy to look down at a notification. It takes 2 seconds and an intriguing thumbnail or clever title, and that quick glance at a notification turns into burning 45 minutes scrolling through TikTok. Instead, at the beginning of each scheduled work session, turn on Do Not Disturb, and if you’re really susceptible to distractions, go ahead and power that iPhone down.” -Chris Gerlach
  • Communicate. “Don’t hesitate to be, or apologize for being, a pest to your instructors. We’re figuring out how to make this as valuable as we can for you guys, but we won’t anticipate everything, so let us know what your needs and preferences are. We won’t be able to accommodate all the “wants,” but we can do as much as we can.” -Welch Suggs

For more resources and the latest communications from Grady College, please visit our Continuity Communications page.