Six ways students can navigate online classes
March 22, 2020
Starting Monday, all Virginia Tech courses will be offered online as the Hokie Nation, alongside other universities throughout the country, helps slow the spread of COVID-19.
As students prepare for this transition, Virginia Tech’s Center for Teaching and Learning and the Division of Information Technology offered tips to ensure that Hokies can navigate their online classes successfully.
1. Prepare to be connected
- Log into Zoom, Virginia Tech’s platform for video conferencing, and Canvas using your VT username and passphrase.
- Test internet connectivity. Try multiple speed tests to get a fuller picture of speed over time. Some reliable options for speed tests include Ookla, Speed of Me, and DSL Reports. Most internet providers offer speeds that meet the following basic requirements. Here are some basic minimums:
- Web surfing, email, or social media, 1 Mbps
- Video conferencing, 1-4 Mbps
- SD video streaming, 3-4 Mbps
- HD video streaming, 5-8 Mbps
- See other resources for lower speed connections.
- Have two-factor devices and chargers available.
3. Stay focused
- Find a quiet place to work without distractions from television, family, or roommates.
- Uninstall computer games to avoid distractions.
- Turn off the cell phone.
- Limit web surfing.
Set up good lighting and comfortable seating.
4. Manage time
Review the revised syllabus for each course and create a plan for completing assignments. Make a daily "To Do" list, checking tasks off the list as they are completed. Develop a routine with scheduled course time, study time, and free time.
5. Determine the best way to communicate with professors
The online environment can be tricky for communication. Professors are unable to pick up on nonverbal cues they usually use in face-to-face courses. Find out how a professor would like to communicate. Some prefer email, discussion groups, chat room office hours, or Zoom meetings. If a professor offers online office hours, don't be shy about using those tools to communicate and ask questions.
6. Use Virginia Tech’s virtual academic resources when needed
Virginia Tech offers virtual resources for students. They include virtual academic appointments through Academic Advising Initiatives and online tutoring through the Student Success Center. Also, career advising through Career and Professional Development at Virginia Tech is available by phone or Zoom appointment. Students can call the office to make an appointment.
Contact Virginia Tech 4Help for additional technical questions. The office also is available at all hours by phone at 540-231-4357.
By Jenny Kincaid Boone