Quick Guide to Remote Learning
Strategies for Being a Remote-Learner
Due to changes brought about by COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the move of UCR courses to remote teaching, we are offering this overview of strategies and tips for you to be a successful learner.
Conduct a Personal Technology Inventory: Make Sure You Have What You Need to Be a Remote-Learner
Since all instruction is going to be conducted remotely and not face to face, you will need a way to access the remote teaching materials. All instructors are going to be required to use the iLearn (Blackboard) platform to deliver course materials (a few UCR courses use the Canvas LMS, but it is a small number of courses).
- Do you have access to the Internet or wifi on a consistent basis?
- Do you have a computer (laptop or desktop) that can access iLearn and run Zoom sessions? (There are laptops available for loan through the library. Use this application.)
- Do you have a tablet (iPad, Surface, Pixel) that can access iLearn and run Zoom sessions?
- Do you have a smartphone?
Remote Learning Tips
Read Your Syllabus Carefully
Plan on spending similar amounts of time to be engaged in your courses online as you would in an in-person course. You should still plan on virtually attending your classes and completing your assignments and exams as you would in a face-to-face course. Read the new syllabus carefully.
- Course instructions or policies will most likely be different during remote teaching, so make sure you understand them.
- Is the class going to meet at a regular time every week via Zoom (synchronous) or are you able to complete the course material at your own pace (asynchronous)? That decision will be up to your instructor so be sure you know the policies of each of your classes, as policies may differ from course to course.
- Does the course have an additional lab or live performance requirement? If so, make sure you understand specifically how your lab, discussion, or live performance sections will be conducted and/or handled by your teaching assistant.
- Do you need any special technology or software to complete the course?
Don't Wait to Get Started: Access your Course Materials as Soon as Possible
Get into the system as soon as possible to become familiar with the tools that are available to you. Make sure you're comfortable with the software before your course begins, so you will then be able to give all of your focus to the course materials.
Manage Your Time Wisely: Be a Disciplined Remote-Learner
There are lots of different activities to do in remote teaching, so it is important to have a plan about how much time you want to spend on each course. With the move to remote teaching, you will be more responsible for how you spend your time and remain motivated to stay on top of your course work. Some suggestions include:
- Make a new schedule of when all your courses meet.
- Make a plan for when you are going to do your homework, assignments, essays/papers, or studying for exams and papers.
- Remote learning can give you flexibility in your schedule, but don’t let that flexibility lead towards not getting your work completed in a timely manner.
Communicate: Stay Connected and Seek Help When You Need It
You should not feel isolated when participating in remote learning at UCR. Encourage your instructors to connect with other students to create a vibrant peer-to-peer learning environment. Some suggestions include:
- Many of the non-verbal communication mechanisms that instructors use in determining whether students are having problems (confusion, frustration, boredom, absence, etc.) are not possible in an online situation. If you don't communicate issues with your instructor, they won't be able to assist you.
- If your instructor is holding synchronous (Zoom meeting) classes, keep your camera on. It's easy to get distracted by other things going on in your home if you know that your camera isn't on. If you're worried about a messy or distracting background, then use a virtual background that reflects your personality.
- Use discussion board forums to get to know your classmates or to ask for support from your classmates.
- Use Zoom sessions to connect with your classmates remotely to build a sense of community.
- Seek out tutoring resources or writing help or accommodations as needed. Even though the university is working remotely, the support services are still available to assist you in your learning. (If you need an accommodation or have an accessibility issue, please contact the SDRC for further help.)
- Taking a class online means you won't be sitting quietly in the classroom; participation is even more essential.
- You can also contact the Academic Resource Center for more remote learning resources.
Learn How iLearn Works: Get to Know the Platform You Are Using Better
UCR courses use iLearn (Blackboard) to provide the remote learning experience. We definitely encourage each student to take the time to familiarize yourself with how iLearn operates (including on mobile phones) and how all the features work.
- iLearn information and tutorials.
- If you are the type of individual that likes a detailed explanation or a video demonstration, please go to the Blackboard help pages, where there is a wealth of information and guides on how to use this platform most effectively.
When we attend classes on campus, we generally ask questions, and get answers, at the moment. This immediacy is not available when you are watching a recorded lecture or doing some other kind of learning activity without your professor. Keep a running list of questions that arise as you do each assignment and be sure to ask those questions by email, on a Glow discussion board, or in virtual office hours. Once you get the answers to your questions, check them off the running list. Don’t wait until the last minute to ask for help.
Have a back-up plan in case of technical issues:
If your Internet connection goes down while you’re working in your online course, or worse yet, taking an online test, it's important to always have a backup plan and know what to do.
- Notify your teacher immediately to let them know why you might not be active in the course for a while. You should use your teacher’s preferred method of communication to contact them. You can also contact your mentor who can help you reach your instructor.
- Use the tech support resources located in your course, and contact the help desk to help you get back up and running.
- If you lose your internet connection, how will you contact your teacher and/or tech support? Can you use your phone? Do you know where the nearest free wi-fi is located? Figure out your backup plan now so you don't panic when it does happen.