Virtual Learning Tips from CAH Faculty and Staff

Word cloud of remote learning tips with a Bulldog paw

As we begin our 2020/21 academic year in this unprecedented time, many are undoubtedly wondering how to succeed in college while learning remotely. 

To find out, we asked the College of Arts and Humanities faculty and staff, “What is your biggest tip for students to be successful in a remote learning environment?” and followed up with “Do you have any other tips?”

Here are their answers:

“Be sure to take good lecture notes, and do not rely on a Zoom recording.”

Mary Paul, Ed.D.
Faculty, Department of English

“Put alarm reminders on your phone for when assignments are due/when you have scheduled class/when you have scheduled exams. It’s easy, especially with asynchronous classes, to forget to log in or submit work. Having reminder alarms on your phone ahead of time can help!”

“If at any point you feel you are struggling in any way, academically or otherwise, reach out to your professors AND your academic counselors. We are all here to help make this as smooth as a transition for online learning as possible. We understand it’s challenging. The sooner we know there is a struggle, hopefully the more options we have to offer.”

Nadia D. Margison
Academic Counselor
Advising and Support Center (ASC)

“Mute your mics when not speaking! If you don’t it’s possible that students won’t be able to hear the professor.”

Mary Husain, Ed.D.
Faculty, Department of Communication and Department of Media, Communication and Journalism (MCJ)

RELATED: Straight from the graders; tips for new college students

“Make a schedule and reserve the same amount of time that we would spend in class to work on class assignments.”

Paula Durette
Associate Professor of Animation/Intermedia, Department of Art and Design

“Read everything before getting started. The answers to most questions students ask are usually already provided in the pages we put into Canvas.”

Kevin Kas
Faculty, Department of Art and Design

“Be an active participant in all platforms and media used for virtual learning (Canvas/Fresno State Accounts/Zoom) and communicate well with your instructor and peers, as this is what builds healthy relationships and learning.”

Gabriel Ibarra
Faculty, Department of English

“My blog this week is about virtual education.”

Andrew Fiala, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy, Director of the Ethics Center

“Time management… plan what hours, every week, you will use to complete classwork.”

Dr. Rebecca I. Starr
Faculty, Department of English

“Pay attention to the announcements.”

“Do not get too far ahead of yourself. If weekly modules are posted weeks in advance, don’t try to do all of them all at once. Wait for some instructor feedback first so you know if you are answering the questions the way the instructor wants them answered.”

Amanda Stutsman
Faculty, Department of Communication

“Log into the course daily.”

“Maintain a positive attitude towards technology, an open mind towards online education, and a willingness to share your experiences with others.”

“Exhibit strong analytical and critical thinking skills for when you ‘get stuck.’”

“Reveal your resourcefulness and curiosity – click on links to explore topics further.”

“Manage your time efficiently by carving out set time during your day to dedicate to your work.”

Jes Therkelsen, MFA
Assistant Professor, MCJ

“Have a separate learning space that is dedicated to work/school only.  This will hopefully help create a learning environment that is separate from home life.”

Felicia Salcido
Academic Counselor
Advising and Support Center (ASC)

“Be sure when completing online work to be in a quiet area where you can focus without much distractions. Be comfortable where you are seated.”

Stefani Hooper
Faculty, Department of English

“A characteristic of mindfulness is having an attitude that is non-judgmental, curious, and kind. This is my tip for the success of students learning in a virtual environment.”

Courtney Sparrow
Faculty, Department of Communication, DISCOVERe

“Smile!  🙂 You can check if you’re smiling by looking at your own picture on the screen.”

Larry Gardner
Lecturer, Department of Music

“Stay connected. Try to do something different with each synchronous class – different background or shirt or something you share with the class. Keep the video on so you can be seen. That forces you to be present.”

“Sit in a chair, not on the bed. Create a workspace.”

“When I let things ‘just be’ I never get anything done. When I fully schedule my time (and that means scheduling in fun, down time) I get tons done. It helps me stay focused and on task. It also helps me be present and really enjoy my down time.”

Kim Stephens
Faculty, MCJ

“Use the discussion forum or platform for your class to ask questions, don’t keep everything to yourself.”

Sean Fulop, Ph.D. 
Professor and chair, Department of Linguistics 

“Be organized and set times for completing work.  I find it’s best to stick to a schedule (even if you do want to do homework from 12am-2am!).  Keeping a schedule ensures that you don’t miss anything and helps make time for friends because you don’t have to say, ‘wait, I forgot my Comm 3 assignment!’”

Natalie Muñoz, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures (MCLL)

“Time management, show up to Zoom meetings, meeting deadlines.”

Harjit Dosanjh
Faculty, Department of Communication

While this video contains information for a specific class, there are general tips which apply to all students.

Prof. Betsy A. Hays, APR, Fellow PRSA
Chair, Department of Media, Communications​ ​& Journalism

“Get help when you hit a roadblock. There are plenty of people in the DISCOVERe facility in the library that can help you and they are patient.  Once you’re past the roadblock you will know more and be able to help yourself in the future.”

“Attend class sessions  online (if applicable) and turn in the work required.  Again, if you struggle, contact your professor and ask for help. Most of us professors are IMPRESSED when our students reach out for extra help. We do NOT feel irritated that one of our students is ‘bothering’ us. To the contrary, we are proud to help out. (That applies to online learning as well as traditional face to face learning)”

Dr. Gary Gilroy
Professor of Music and Director of Bands, Department of Music

“Make a daily and weekly schedule of reading and completing assignments. Revise at the beginning of each week to adjust for papers/midterms/special projects.”

“If the class is asynchronous, consider using the actual time of the class for completing required work.”

“Don’t hesitate to ask for help from your teachers if you need it.”

Limor Toren-Immerman, DMA
Associate Professor of Music, Department of Music

“The 20/20/20 rule is important. Every 20 minutes look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This greatly helps with eye fatigue. Also just remembering to take breaks and move around at least once an hour. If possible create sitting and standing work options so you can switch it up. (impromptu standing desks can be made out of a sturdy cardboard box, or stack of books.)”

Dr. Laura Huisinga, MFA, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Art and Design

“Staying engaged as much as possible and realizing that Zoom (and technology in general) is never perfect!  Biggest tip:  Stay in touch with your instructor about any questions or challenges you’re facing in the virtual environment.  Fresno State has tons of support for many issues, and we’re here for you! ”

Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, MCJ

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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