Online Learning Tips from the THRIVE Center

Are you ready for the next semester? Our Thrive Center Director Shelby Shaw is here to give you some tips as you prep your game plan for Spring 2021!

Top Tips for Online Learning

Understand how you learn and how that translates into the online environment.

The brain is a super complex organ, but we can demystify its complexity with a few overarching themes about how it works and therefore how you learn.

First, you learn by repeating the same neural pathway over and over again. So, you learn by repetition— it’s important to actively, daily participate in your classes, even if you don’t necessarily have anything “due.” Read, review, take notes, quiz yourself, and do that again and again. Staying actively engaged as a form of repetition can help solidify the neural connections in your brain that enable you to learn the material.

Second, and connected to the first, you learn by building neural pathways. And you do that by making connections. You deepen your connection to material by asking questions, so reach out to your faculty members often; take advantage of office hours, virtual study groups, and do further research on your own. Find a way to make meaning of the material in a way that connects to your prior knowledge.

Third, your brain is constantly processing billions of bits of information, and you can help make sense of all this by getting and staying organized. Reviewing your syllabus on the first day of class is a great way to start. Mapping out all your due dates and assignments on a calendar or planner is another way. It is also a good idea to schedule time dedicated to online courses as though they were in-person live classes; to block off important due dates for assignments, tests, projects, synchronous events, etc. Check your email daily and communicate with the instructor weekly at a minimum.

Use the support services available to you.

Even though we’re all working remotely, we are still here for you—that includes tutoring, health services, disability services, veteran’s services, advising, counseling services and more. We are only a phone call or email away. To figure out what support you could use or how to get in touch with someone specifically, you can check in with the THRIVE Center. In the college environment, asking for help is considered a sign of strength. Please do it!

Third, get a solid understanding of the online tools available to you, starting with iConnect.

Utilizing this resource brings you to several applications you’ll use often – email, Blackboard, Mount 101 (getting started at MWCC), and Hoonuit – our collection of on-demand videos. Our help guru Marty the mountain lion is at the bottom of the corner on that page for help. IConnect is also where you can find the link to download Office 365, which is available for free to all students.

We have online classes available that are at your own pace or that have scheduled online meetings. When planning your classes, you should understand what you might prefer better, and what would better work with your schedule. If you plan to take classes with scheduled online meetings, you need at least a microphone, and preferably a camera. Phones can work for this. Also, in the remote environment, it is great to have a computer or Chromebook, not just a phone or tablet. If you need one, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

And last but not least, care for your mental health.

We are all going through mental health struggles as a result of the pandemic. It is a normal response to a very abnormal situation. We can help. Please do not hesitate to reach out, no matter what’s going on. Also, just in general, the importance of consistent self-care such as eating well, moving around a bit and getting a good night’s sleep cannot be understated.

If you are struggling with mental health concerns, you can make an appointment for a phone or video call with a member of our Counseling Services team. Services are confidential and free. Visit our Counseling page for contact details.

About Thrive

The THRIVE Center is a one-stop-shop for student success. It is a space for students to meet for private conversations, group discussions, peer mentoring, and a myriad of other resources.

You can reach the THRIVE Center at THRIVE@mwcc.mass.edu or 978.630.9327. You can also schedule an appointment with us from the Thrive Center page.