Remote Learning for Students
How to Prepare
As of March 19, 2020 and in response to health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Texas State courses will be offered using remote or alternative teaching delivery through the end of the Spring 2020 term. Faculty are working now to modify their courses. Students should expect contact from their instructors about how to access lessons and other learning materials as we move forward.
Students may have questions about how best to prepare to succeed in a remote teaching environment. The information below will help students get ready for remote learning.
Communications will be important. Students should plan to check email more frequently for the rest of the semester. If courses use either TRACS or Canvas, important announcements may appear there, too.
In addition to the assistance offered below, students may access additional helpful information on the Texas State web site:
- The Division of Information Technology's Remote Learning and Collaborating Resources for Students features information about and links to handy technical resources.
- For help with a specific technical issue, contact the Information Technology Assistance Center (ITAC) help desk (firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-245-4822).
- Students also continue to have access to several other support services through phone and email. The following web page is particularly helpful in connecting with just the right office: https://www.studentsuccess.txstate.edu/resources/academicsupport.html.
We are working as a team to make sure our students have the best experience possible.
What Happens Next?
Faculty will make contact with students about necessary changes to courses. Checking Texas State email regularly for the next several months will be critical to success. When learning about the changes to the course, make specific note of:
- How communication will be handled. Will faculty plan to use email, announcements in TRACS or Canvas or some other way of keeping in touch? Plan to reply to messages from instructors to ensure that lines of communication are working well.
- How timelines and deadlines changed. Did the due dates for assignments and tests change? Is the calendar for reading or other learning activities different? Update personal calendars accordingly to keep up with coursework. Success in remote learning often depends on the ability to stay on task.
- How lessons and other learning activities changed. Have the readings been modified? Are new learning activities planned such as live videoconferences, chats, or phone conferences? Will lecture recordings be a part of class now? Read any new instructions carefully and ask questions.
- What new technologies might be used. Will students need to learn about how to use TRACS or Canvas to access course materials, quizzes, or tests? Will the course meetings now use Zoom for desktop videoconferencing? Do assignments now require familiarity with Office 365? Learn more about these tools before needing to use them. Test equipment and Internet connectivity as appropriate.
What Do Good Remote Learners Do?
Some quick tips for success as a remote learner include:
- Active communication. Be proactive in keeping lines of communication open. Remote learners need to ask questions when they have them. Participation in class relies on different tools during remote learning but is still a necessary part of being a good student. Remember, faculty will not be able to see that a student has a hand raised or looks unsure about the information just presented. Being actively engaged in learning will make all the difference.
- Practicing good writing. Write clearly and professionally and plan to review any written items before posting them to discussion boards or sending them via email. Try composing and editing items in Microsoft Word before copying and pasting the final message into an online forum. Students who have never sent an email message to an instructor should keep in mind that a more formal start to an email such as "Dear Dr. X," is an appropriate approach. More informal forms of address or simply opening an email with "Hey!" is not often received well. And sign your email message. Here are some additional tips on classroom email etiquette.
- Scheduled study times. Routines will change as we shift to remote learning. Aside from remote classes, work schedules and family commitments may alter what we do and when. Scheduling specific times to study will help re-establish a routine and ensure that students take the appropriate amount of time to continue their studies. A typical 3 credit hour course requires approximately 9 hours of work per week even when delivered remotely.
- Making a study space. Having a dedicated space to study may seem like a luxury but will help if it can be arranged. The process of creating a place to work each time remote learning begins will discourage making the study time necessary for success.
- Creating daily and weekly goals. Setting mini-goals along the way will help remote learners stay positive. Study and work in chunks of time that make it possible to finish some manageable goal (a chapter or paper read, a paragraph written, or a section of problems solved).
- Discussing remote learning commitments with family and friends. Family and friends can and often do support students in accomplishing their goals. Support works best when those who care know what the student in their life needs. Discuss the study schedule, study space, and the commitments and tools needed to access remote learning with those who will want to help.