Remote Learning Tips: Taking Advantage of Live Virtual Class Time

by Heather Nelson

Many learners attend class remotely by signing in to live sessions with their professors and classmates via Zoom or other video conferencing platforms. If you are one of those students, remote learning tips can help you get the most out of your virtual courses.

When tuning in for class, be prepared to engage with any new material and those sharing the online classroom space with you. It’s a time to ensure you grasp the topics at hand and continue building your knowledge. Some small preparations can make a big difference!

With this in mind, here are a few ways you can best prepare for virtual face-to-face class time.

Plan Ahead for Virtual Class Sessions

Other than forgoing an on-the-go breakfast or commuting from home to campus, preparing for synchronous (live) virtual class sessions doesn’t vary much from how you’d prepare for class in a traditional setting. In fact, tried and true preparation will carry you a long way in an online lesson—including finishing the assigned reading and homework, and coming with your notes and any questions.

Being technologically ready, however, is the best way to ensure your virtual experience isn’t thwarted. Before each online learning session begins, check your internet connection, organize your digital workspace (including opening your note-taking applications), and sign in to your class early to make sure your video and audio connections are working.

Also, if you know you are about to log into a live class session, try to make time for a short break beforehand so that you enter the class ready to focus.

“Make sure to take breaks from your screen. Consider a 50-20-50 study regimen. 50 minutes on screen/doing school work, 20 minute movement and screen break, then 50 minutes on screen/doing school work,” said Kathryn Ecklund, PhD, chair and professor in the Department of Psychology. “Students using this regimen report they are more productive than those who are attempting to not take breaks and push through on screen all day!”

Taking a moment to prepare before class starts will save you time and stress and allow you to focus on the class session. It can also make a difference to your classmates and professor!

Connect with Your Classmates and Professors

Live class sessions are a great time to connect with your professors and classmates when in-person learning isn’t an option. You can and should tackle online learning with as much excitement and energy as you would for a course that’s held on campus.

“Remote learning provides an incredible opportunity to connect with students and peers from all over the world,” said Melanie Petersen, director of recruitment and retention in the Department of Psychology. “Show up and take advantage of class time to ask questions, engage with one another, and have conversations with people from all different spaces.”

During your class meetings, take the time to greet your professor and acknowledge the other students. This could be through a quick hello before the lecture starts (but while the virtual room is open) or via a note in the shared chat box to the entire group.

In addition to greetings, live meetings can be a helpful avenue to bring course material questions to your professors. Ask questions when they come to mind (some programs allow you to virtually “raise your hand,” or you can type questions into a chat box).

“Many students joined online classes with hesitation, as they thought their interaction with faculty would be limited,” said Rob Linsalato, associate dean in the School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences. “They have since told their professors this is not true, as their faculty are able to talk with them by video, phone, and email conversations with great flexibility.”

By staying present throughout a session, you’re letting your professor see you’re engaged with the course material and that you’re a student who is committed to your studies. Additionally, your fellow students may feel inspired or motivated by your actions and follow suit—helping make each session even more powerful and engaging.

Get the Most Out of Virtual Class Time Together

Many courses have a recorded component to cover all the material, so you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the most out of live virtual class time when you can. Come prepared (using the tips above), use digital tools like messaging services and note-taking apps to stay engaged, and don’t be afraid to unmute your mic and join the conversation.

As with most situations, what you get out of it can depend on the effort you put in. Virtual learning is no different. When you’re an active participant in live sessions, you’ll get more from your education and find greater success.

For more information about remote learning and to stay up-to-date on the latest news at Azusa Pacific University, visit Destination APU: Remote Learning Together This Fall.