Seven Steps to Adapt Your Learning to Remote, Online Courses

Over more than a dozen years you have developed, often without much conscious awareness, effective ways of learning in person. Upon reflection, you will probably notice that during that time certain courses, subjects or teaching styles required you to adjust your approach to learning. During this time of great adjustment (for both students and instructors) give yourself the time and opportunities to adapt. By being reflective and strategic you can make the necessary adaptations and achieve your goals and learn skills and strategies that will benefit you in years to come.

  1. Notice what’s different and unfamiliar about how you are being taught and the kinds of assignments you are given. New and unfamiliar tasks and ways of teaching may require new methods of learning. To be more effective and efficient follow the steps below to get in synch with your instructor.
  2. Strive to understand why these changes have been made, why the course has been designed as it has. This will help you align your efforts with the aims of your instructor(s).
  3. Clarify your instructors’ expectations for students. Read and listen carefully to establish a concrete and specific understanding of what you are expected to do before, during and after class sessions and on assignments. Ask specific questions to get additional information.
  4. Identify what is difficult or challenging about how you are being taught and expected to learn. What makes it hard; what are the learning demands? Generate ideas for how to address them and experiment.
  5. Periodically, reflect on your approach to the course (study strategies, time management, etc.) and discuss with your classmates or instructor (or a learning consultant) how it is working effectively and not.
  6. Be alert to problems with access to course materials, problems with the learning management system, etc. remembering that your instructors are having to make big adjustments, too. Communicate any issues you observe to your instructors in a timely and helpful way so they can address them for you and the entire class.
  7. Be prepared to adapt to new developments by applying this process multiple times. Expect some trial and error, but continue to attend to and refine your methods and processes of engaging with and learning from remote, online instruction.