Tips for making the transition to online learning

Posted on April 07, 2020
Tips for making the transition to online learning

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost all aspects of society and the economy. Education and training organizations have had to move quickly to develop and deliver online alternatives to their in-class programs.

Students who may not have taken online education before or were looking forward to the engagement and immediacy of an in-person learning experience, may be a bit intimidated by this “new normal”. Here are some tips for the executive education participant shifting to the online format.

1. Ensure technical requirements are met

A computer that can run the video conferencing platform will be needed, and it is wise to install and test it before class starts. Calling a friend to do a trial run is a good practice session. The user can test functions such as sending messages and mute/unmute audio, in case background noise or a disturbance occurs. Participants may contact the program coordinator or the school customer service team to report problems.

2. Prepare

One of the perks of online education means saving time by not having to commute. Participants can use that extra time for planning and preparation, including thorough study of assigned reading material and some independent research. They should go over the curriculum and program objectives, and ask the instructor any questions that arise.

An organized, private space for the class sessions should have as few distractions as possible. Many online programs require video connection, so background visuals need to be minimized. It is advisable to decide in advance what methods will be used to take notes, how digital material will be stored and what books and source material to have on hand.

3. Participate

It may be a challenge at first for some students to bring their full energy and engagement to the online learning experience, but it is necessary. Full attention and participation will be expected. Experience with online teams and using digital tools is highly beneficial in the workplace, as such skills are required in professional settings. Group breakout rooms featuring video chats for in-depth interaction with fellow participants will be a part of the program, requiring listening skills, open-mindedness and an alert, enquiring approach — just as one would expect in an in-person conversation.

4. Keep sight of goals

Like any learning experience, motivation and commitment are important for achieving results. Principles of experiential learning still apply as participants can interact with peers to give and receive constructive feedback. Focused attention will help any participant get the most out of the experience and emerge with more confidence, technical know-how and interpersonal skills.

5. Network

Even when they don’t meet in person, a connection is formed between participants when they discuss topics, learn together and collaborate on projects. Many online students keep in touch, even if it is just on social media. After completing any program at Schulich ExecEd, it is beneficial to join the Schulich ExecEd Alumni Network, to strengthen one’s connection with the Centre and network with other graduates.