A Philosophy Student’s Guide to Online Learning (2020W1)

How can you succeed in your online Philosophy courses this fall?

In general, advice for being a good student in your online classes will look a lot like advice for being a good student in any context: do the readings, make sure you pay attention and take notes, don’t go on social media during lectures, ask questions, etc.

The new online environment does bring a few additional challenges, however.

Here are some tips:

  1. Online courses will require a little more discipline than in-person meetings. It will be easier to become distracted and to disengage if you’re attending class, or if you’re watching a recorded lecture. Try closing other applications and tabs and keeping your phone out of reach.
  2. Do not be afraid to ask your instructor or their TA’s for help when it comes to navigating Canvas, Collaborate, or any new software that may be required. Chances are, if you’re having trouble, others are too.
  3. Be mindful of how an online environment produces feelings of anonymity. Remember that the people that you’re interacting with deserve your respect and genuine engagement.
  4. Consider how your use of the technology available can increase the quality of engagement. Text-based chat may allow you to craft replies more carefully than if you were speaking. Enabling your camera so that you’re seen can make you feel like you’re more of a participant. Audio chat may be preferable for some who find it easier to speak extemporaneously. Instructors’ opinions on this issue may differ.
  5. Be patient when connection issues occur, whether they be your own, other students’, or the instructor’s.
  6. To keep engaged in an online course, it is now more important than ever to take every opportunity (that you feel comfortable with) to make yourself less anonymous. For example, you will feel more engaged with the course if, for example, you turn on your camera for the lecture, or participate in office hours.
  7. It is completely okay to feel fatigued after sitting through multiple video calls during the workday. We realize that this may bring with it diminishing engagement and focus but there are a few steps steps you can take to address this.
    • Take small breaks by looking away from your screen every now and then. Nonstop facetime can be distressing, especially if you are distracted by self view. It is entirely possible to listen without staring at the screen for the full duration of the class. This does not mean engaging with other devices or tasks, but simply allowing your eyes to rest for a few minutes by turning off your camera for brief moments during the call.
    • Consider hiding yourself from view if you find yourself being distracted or distressed by it. Alternate between different kinds of view (speaker or gallery view on Zoom). It will help you stay present and focused.
    • If you find yourself with free time in between two meetings, try to make use of that time by moving around and stretching. Try not to exhaust yourself with additional screen based stimuli in that period.
    • If possible, try to create a boundary between your work and living space. We realize that this may not always be possible but making smaller changes like working at a desk instead of the bed or the couch can be helpful.
  8. We realize that these are unprecedented circumstances that can impact both your learning and well-being. Please prioritize your health and well-being and do not hesitate to reach out if you need help.
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