Nirvana or Nightmare? Online Life

The Crosby staff chose this “online” topic back in December. We had no idea that in a few weeks everyone would be using online courses. The original idea was to explore whether online learning would be a good option for you or your student. That ship has sailed, so now I want to talk about dealing with this new reality.

It’s true that not all learners prefer, nor thrive, in an online learning environment. But there are things you can do to make the best of our current situation.

I am inspired by a book I liked as a child, What Good Luck, What Bad Luck, by Remy Charlip. It has been published more recently as Fortunately. I wish I had the talent to create fun illustrations like the original story…

Fortunately, we live during an age of connections through technology.

Unfortunately, we live in a world under attack by coronavirus and have no choice right now except to interact at appropriate social distances.

Fortunately, many online resources are being offered for free during this time.

Unfortunately, not everyone has good access to a reliable internet connection.

Fortunately, faculty are good at “learning how to learn”.

Unfortunately, teachers had very little time to prepare for this transition to online learning.

Fortunately, learning to work more independently is a good thing.

Unfortunately, in this situation, it’s kind of like learning to swim by being thrown in the deep end of the pool.

Fortunately, teachers have flotation devices and tips on how to swim!

Unfortunately, many students aren’t good at asking for help—especially by e-mail or text.

Fortunately, Iredell Crosby Scholars staff had been working with Zoom for several months.

Unfortunately, we still need more practice!

Fortunately, we are all in the same boat.

Unfortunately, that means we are all learning to paddle at the same time.

Here are some ways to look for the silver lining while social distancing–

Consider it a free trial! By working online now, every student is getting a taste of what it is like. Use this time to think about what you like about it. Better to find out now that online is not for you than to pay for a course that you end up dropping.

Practice working independently. In a virtual environment, it’s not as easy to raise your hand and get a question answered. We have experienced this in our own work environment recently. If we were at the office, we could call everyone over to our screen to show an example. When we meet on Zoom, trying to juggle everything makes it much harder to do that! Sure, we use e-mail and text, but it’s not the same as asking in person and getting immediate answers.

Learn new technology. We have had Zoom in our office for several months now. We are learning by doing—that is a great way to increase skills! It’s okay to have glitches and technical issues. Everyone is in this together and experiencing similar frustrations.

Use available help if you need it. If you are struggling, let your teacher know! Find out what extra resources are available to you. Many internet options are available for free all the time. During this pandemic, there are even more free resources thanks to companies that want to help. On our website homepage is a list of many of those that we have heard about. Check it out!

Have fun and participate! Contribute to the online sessions by asking questions and entering the discussion. Wear a silly hat or shirt—everyone could use some fun about now. Be positive for your own good and the good of others. Make a list of crazy things that are happening so you can look back and say “remember when…”!

Make a plan. Many students run into trouble with online classes because they don’t do a good job of pacing themselves. Get a calendar and map out your assignments for the day and/or week. Create a list of things you need to get finished each hour or day. Don’t expect that you will be able to read 200 pages in a day—break down those large assignments into smaller pieces. For example, read 20 pages every weekday morning and another 20 in the afternoon. After a week, you will have covered the 200 pages! Make sure you check your assignments regularly to see if there are changes. Don’t procrastinate! The sooner you get your work done, the sooner you can do something you really enjoy!