A Former Online Student Shares His Advice

Glasses on a notebook by a computer
Person smiling
Adrian Trujillo is the bilingual academic success adviser in the Western Oregon University’s Student Success and Advising Office.

Adrian Trujillo knows all too well the challenges of navigating remote college courses. While studying for his bachelor’s degree, he also juggled being a father to three young boys and working a full-time job.

Now the bilingual academic success adviser in Western Oregon University’s Student Success and Advising (SSA) Office, Trujillo, 25, is eager to share with WOU students what he learned and what he wishes he had done differently when taking remote courses.

“It’s important to have a plan, and ask for assistance,” he said. “When I talk with WOU students, I remind them that there are many people who support them and who want to see them succeed.”

Trujillo offered his advice to help WOU students enjoy and succeed in their spring term remote access courses.

What are three things WOU students can do to successfully navigate remote learning?

  • Check Moodle every day. This will keep you aware of any announcements made by the faculty, and the consistent checking will make it difficult to forget you are taking remote access classes.
  • Don’t wait to ask for help! Remote classes are time sensitive. Don’t get caught asking for clarification the day before an assignment’s deadline. I have done this, and it’s not a pretty situation. View the lectures and assignment descriptions at the beginning of the week and ask for clarification ASAP if you don’t understand what you need to do.
  • Spread it out. Don’t overwhelm yourself by listening to all your lectures and doing all your assignments on one day. You would not do this for a face-to-face schedule. Keep track of deadlines. By making sure you do your work every day, you won’t burn yourself out.

Why is it important WOU students connect with their classmates?

Building a connection is important especially in remote access classes. Most students like to think they don’t need to communicate with others in a remote class. I was one of those students. There are many benefits to reaching out and talking to classmates. Each student has something to add to a classroom even if it is a virtual class. Communicating with students helps us feel less isolated, and it can spark new ideas and solutions for the class. It is also a great way to exchange remote learning strategies.

What are some ways students can meet their fellow students in a remote access class?

While it may seem difficult or impossible to build these connections with remote classes, there are many ways to do this. Most Moodle courses have a general discussion thread for students to ask questions regarding the material being taught, just like raising your hand in class. Make sure you are checking those to help a fellow classmate out or to see if someone has a solution to a similar problem you are having. I encourage students to build a virtual study group using Skype, Zoom, Webex or Facetime. This allows you to have that human interaction we all need, laugh at our classmates’ jokes or talk about how you are doing with remote access classes. It’s important to reach out to others with a call, email or text.

What advice would you give students about communicating with a professor or an instructor if they are having trouble understanding a lesson?

Reach out to the instructor early in the week after viewing the lecture. Time will be your greatest asset when reaching out to faculty. The great thing about remote access lectures is that you can view lectures in the afternoon and send an email with your questions, knowing the faculty will read it in the morning. While you wait for a response back, you can work on the assignments or lectures of your other classes.

Do not hesitate to reach out to the faculty when you are stuck. If you are worried about only having online communication with your professor, suggest a virtual appointment during her office hours.

Cartoon of the state of Oregon and Wolfie
Western Oregon University wishes our students a spring term of discovering new ideas and friends.

What tips do you have for time management?

While remote access classes give you the flexibility to do the work at any time during the day or week, they are not timeless. I advise students not to procrastinate and instead, respect the deadlines and try your best to complete assignments early. Some time management tips include:

  • Do the work for one class at a time.
  • Set alarms on your phone that remind you to dedicate time to a class.
  • Write important deadlines on a calendar or sticky notes and place them where you are reminded when assignments are due.
  • Create a weekly schedule so you can manage your classes and other responsibilities.

If you need help holding yourself accountable for remote access classes, reach out to an adviser who can help you build time management skills.

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