Remote Learning Tips

Finding success in the remote learning environment

The sudden change in the structure to a remote format for your courses may present a new experience for you. You likely have questions and concerns if you have never learned remotely or online before.

Be patient with yourself, your classmates and your instructors during this time by offering grace and kindness as everyone moves through the process. Remember to take care of your own wellbeing first. 

Planning your approach to your courses in a new remote format can help you feel more in control over your own responses to remote experiences and expectations throughout the semester. 

Use this guide as a starting point of tips and suggestions for:  

  • Preparing for and transitioning to remote learning environments
  • Learning about tips for success in remote learning environments
  • Addressing challenges when they arise
  • Reviewing frequently asked questions about remote learning environments

Preparing for and transitioning to remote learning environments

Reflect on how you work best.
Take some time to consider your needs as a learner. How might you set yourself up for success? How will you structure your day? How will you stay sustained? Assessing your personal needs sets the foundation for how you will engage.

Identify your space and get your technology in order.

Do your best to find or create a workspace for your learning. An ideal space for many is quiet, organized, distraction-free, technologically ready and available for use when you need it. Consider putting your devices on "do not disturb" while doing class work. While on breaks, try to do so in a different space in order to maintain a “work-only zone.”

Be proactive. 

Make sure you know how the schedules and expectations for each of your courses have changed. If your instructor has not communicated these changes to you, ask about it. Do not be afraid to ask for clarification or more information, or to tell your instructor about challenges you might be experiencing. 

Consider how your learning and homework strategies may need to change.

  • If you usually study in a coffee shop or library, ask yourself what kind of environment helps you study. See if you can recreate that at home. Maybe it’s studying in a chair, rather than on your bed or couch, or moving to a new spot when you change tasks. If you feel you need background noise, consider a white noise app.
  • If you always study in groups, try a virtual or even phone-based study session with your classmates.
  • If you thrive on tight timelines, but now have a more open schedule, think about how working with others or setting up a schedule can recreate that for you. When that gets hard, see if you can even do 15 minutes at a time.
  • If you live in a home with others who may not be familiar with remote learning, talk with them about your plans to stay on track and how you will schedule your learning and course work time.

Attend to your physical and emotional health.

Establish wellness routines and practice self-care.  Do your best to establish and maintain healthy habits, and try to keep a growth mindset as you adapt to new circumstances. If you find yourself struggling mentally or emotionally, you can reach out to Madison College’s Counseling ServicesIf you feel unwell, let your instructor know. 

Tips for success in remote learning environments

Communication is key. Be consistent about checking college communications. 

Each day, be sure to check your email and login to Blackboard or the course system your instructor is using for classes to check for course announcements or other course information.  Additionally, make sure you know how each of your instructors plans to communicate with you and how you can communicate with them. 

Make a plan and stick to a schedule.

Use a calendar or planner to map out time for participating in class remotely, and stick to your course schedule as much as possible. Schedule time each day for additional homework and readings, and keep track of all due dates and assignments.

Creating to-do lists with your peers is a great way to establish accountability and stay connected with classmates. This will help you manage your time and stay in touch with developments within each of your courses.  Some students find it helpful to create a daily schedule for planning activities, course tasks and personal/self-care. 

On days when you are finding it hard to get started, set a goal for just 5 or 10 minutes.  Sometimes starting small, focusing on “doable” chunks of work is a great way to make progress and get started.  

Stay organized by tracking course changes.   

Consider keeping track of key details for your classes. Your instructor should be communicating these details to you. Consider using a course change tracking document for reference. Consider the ways your course may have changed in the remote learning environment, such as:

  • Are in-person parts of the class changing?
    • Is your class at a specific time or can you access course information at anytime?
    • Where can you find course information and how do you access it?
  • Are assignments changing?
    • Are there new due dates?
    • What is the plan for submitting your assignments changing?
  • How will quizzes or exams going to be taken care of?
  • What should you do if you need help?
    • Make a list of questions you have. Verify if these are answered in communication from your instructor. If not, reach out to your instructor to check in.
    • Is your course offering virtual office hours? When and how?
    • Is there an online forum for asking questions?

Avoid multi-tasking.

Remote learning likely means less structured time, which sometimes results in attempts to multi-task. Focus on one thing at a time and remember to take breaks. Some students find it helpful to focus on coursework tasks for 25-50 minute periods followed by short breaks.

Engage with your remote learning community.

Stay motivated and engaged in your remote learning experience by reaching out to your classmates and your instructors. Try to connect with others who share similar interests, and establish a group study routine. Attend virtual office hours or virtual gatherings your instructor, classmates or student support services might offer. Remember that you are not alone. 

Access support.

Even though you are not on campus, help is just a phone call or email away. You can still access the Madison College Library, take advantage of the Student Achievement Center, contact Academic Advising, or a host of other student support services.  

Addressing challenges when they arise

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, challenges arise in remote learning. Perhaps you are struggling to understand an assignment, cannot access course material, or you do not have regular access to the internet or a computer. When you have a question or concern, and you have checked that the answer is not available in your course materials, reach out to your instructor, advisor and other student support services sooner rather than later and tap into the college resources that are available to you.

Always feel free to contact your instructor. Use whatever contact methods they have told you to use. Provide your instructor with a brief but specific explanation of your question or concern. Make a specific request if you have one (e.g., you want a 2-day extension to submit your paper). Provide them with information on how to contact you. And always be respectful and use professional communication skills. 

If your instructor does not respond right away, stay calm. In remote courses, they are often managing communications with dozens of students. Wait a reasonable amount of time, then send a gentle reminder.

The library’s tech support and help desk is here to help! 

Madison College’s Library Student Computer Help Desk is available to answer technology and other remote learning questions. Email Student Computer Help or call 608-243-4444

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about remote learning environments

I have never taken a remote or online course. What should I expect?

Remote classes may involve any combination of the following class activities:

  • Watching a lecture or video, which may be live or pre-recorded
  • Submitting reflections on lectures or other course material
  • Participating in discussion boards
  • Participating in a class discussion virtually using a web conferencing tool.
  • Submitting assignments online
  • Taking quizzes or exams online

Note: All instructors are being asked to communicate to their students about how the course will be offered remotely. Make sure you understand their expectations for participating in the course and submitting any assignments.

Where do I access my class or how do I see class materials and other information?

Your instructor will be communicating with you. Many courses are likely to use the Blackboard Learning Management platform, which may already be familiar to you through your classes. 

How will assignments and exams work?

Instructors will communicate to their students about how the course will be offered online, including how students should complete any assignments or exams. Assignments and deadlines may or may not be adjusted, but students are expected to continue completing the course requirements as outlined by the instructor. Make sure you understand your instructor’s expectations and ask questions if any expectations are unclear.

What hardware and software will I need to participate in remote classes?

Check out this information from the Madison College Library.

I need technical support.

The Madison College Library provides a great deal of tech support.

What if I don’t have access to a computer or internet access to connect to my remote class?

Reach out to your instructor and visit our technology resources page.

I have no clue how to even “communicate” in a remote learning environment.  What do I need to know?

Remote learning is a new experience for many Madison College students. If you are new to remote or online learning, the way students communicate with each other and with instructors may feel awkward and unfamiliar. Here are some things to keep in mind that will help you avoid miscommunication. 

How will I know what the remote learning plan is for my class?

Instructors will be communicating their plans and will likely contact students via email, Blackboard, or whatever course platform you might have been using prior to shifting to remote learning. If you have not heard from your instructor, please send them an email to check in and ask about the plans.

Where can I find help for using Blackboard?

The library resource site has a host of resources for using Blackboard. Including videos, tips, and how-to guides.

My instructor put us in groups for a project. How do I work with a group in a remote learning class?

Remote collaboration will look a little different, but it is definitely possible.

  • Try not to procrastinate. That group project may be out-of-sight, out-of-mind if you are not seeing each other regularly. Resist the urge to put it off. Make small progress and stay in touch.
  • Meet regularly, especially if you usually touch base during class or lab. Consider a quick text on your group chat about progress every couple of days. Ideally, have real conversations over video any week you’re working together.
  • Set a purpose for meetings and use a shared notes doc. Meetings might feel different when using video, even if your team was really good at working informally in the past. Try to set the purpose of your meeting in advance. Take notes in a shared doc so you can all contribute and follow along.
  • Check on each other. If someone has been absent from your group meetings or chat, ask them directly if they are still able to participate in the project. If you are not getting responses within a day or two, let your instructor know and they may be able to reach out to assist.