Remote learning resources
As Marianopolis continues in alternative modes of delivery for Summer and Fall 2020, easy access to self-serve resources is more important than ever. Here is where students can find guidelines, advice and resources to help them succeed while they learn remotely.
Creating a structure for remote learning
Establish a routine
Get ready for each school day just as you would if you were going to campus – wake up at a set time, grab some breakfast, do some self-care, whatever you need. Set a schedule each day with time allotted to each task and hold yourself accountable to it. Take scheduled breaks and reward yourself a little. Building structure into your day helps you to stay motivated and productive.
Unlike in high school, in college you are in charge of most of your time. Use it wisely:
- Record everything in an agenda or digital planner: classes, studying and working on assignments, clubs, volunteering, meals, part-time work, sleep, personal care, exercise, hobbies, watching TV, social media, etc.
- Break down assignments into monthly, weekly and daily tasks.
- Prioritize: focus on the most important and urgent tasks, leaving the lowest priority tasks for last.
- Be realistic about how much time is necessary per task. Include generous amounts of time for review.
- Respect your rhythm. Are you a morning person or night owl? Schedule blocks of time according to your most productive time of day.
- Pace yourself. Don’t schedule enormous blocks of time all at once. Strive for work periods of approximately 50 minutes followed by a break of 10 minutes.
Check out this helpful information on understanding and overcoming procrastination.
Engaging with online course material
Understand the requirements for each course
Carefully review the course outline for each of your classes and any material your teacher posts. If you are not sure about something your teacher has posted, ask them for help. Be as clear as possible in your communication so that your teacher understands exactly what you need and how they can help you.
Participate actively, just like you would in in-person classes
Take notes, ask questions and join discussions, just as you would in a classroom. Often, grades are partly based on participation in online discussion forums, chats, posts or other forms of engagement.
Take notes effectively
By developing the essential ability to actively listen to and synthesize class material, you get more out of lectures and reduce time spent studying before exams.
- Be prepared. Always complete the assigned readings and review your class notes from the previous session. Take a quick look at the course outline to see what the teacher has planned.
- Follow the organization of the lecture. Teachers usually begin with a main topic then proceed to sub-topics before moving along to other main topics.
- Be systematic. Use a reliable technique such as the Cornell note-taking system, which involves dividing your page into three areas: notes, cues (reminders) and summary.
- Review and organize your notes as soon as possible after the lecture. If you missed or did not understand something, contact your teacher right away.
Read and study smartly
Stay on top of your reading throughout the semester and to develop an effective reading technique to get the most out of your course material. Consider using the SQ3R reading technique:
- Survey. Leaf through the assigned section. As an initial overview, skim over the chapter headings and sub-headings and read the summary and concluding paragraphs.
- Question. Turn headings and subheadings into questions by placing who, what, where, when and how before them. This will arouse your curiosity and increase your motivation to complete the reading.
- Read to answer the questions you created in the previous stage.
- Recite: look away from the page and recite what you have just read in your own words. If you do not succeed at this, return to the text and re-read the section. Try reciting again.
- Review. Go back to the beginning and review the contents of the section. Think about the questions you have just asked and answered.
You can also jot down questions in the margins and highlight the main points. Circle words you don’t know, look them up in a dictionary and then write them in the margins.
Respecting the rules for online conduct
Everyone at the College has the right to a safe and respectful learning environment, whether they are on campus or online. This applies, no matter where you are:
- Do not engage in harassing, defamatory, obscene or discriminatory behaviour in your online interactions with other members of the Marianopolis community. The Code of Student Conduct continues to apply.
- Protect confidential information. Do not share private details about students or other members of the College community. If your teacher provides you with access to a password-protected online space, do not share your log-in credentials with anyone else.
- Respect copyright and fair use. Do not share course material with anyone outside your class. Cite your sources. All intellectual property, including digital recordings created by your teachers, remain the property of the teacher.
- Report inappropriate content. If you see content posted by a classmate that appears unprofessional, bring it to your teacher’s attention.
Every student is responsible for respecting the rules on academic integrity found in the IPESA. Maintaining academic integrity means that you demonstrate respect, fairness and honesty in all academic matters, and that you take full responsibility for the work that you submit.
Here are some examples of violations of academic integrity:
- Receiving help from a friend, family member, tutor or any other individual in completing an evaluation.
- Paying someone to complete an evaluation for you.
- Sharing your work or your answers on an evaluation with another student.
- Failing to cite sources for your information.
- Using any resource to complete an evaluation that is not expressly permitted by your teacher.
Violations of academic integrity carry the same sanctions for online exams as in-person exams. These may include a grade of zero on the evaluation or course, and suspension and/or expulsion from the College.
To help ensure a positive, supportive and respectful learning environment for all students:
The online classroom is still a classroom
Just as you wouldn’t speak in class the same way you speak with your friends, you shouldn’t interact in an online classroom the same way you would via text or social media. Before posting or sending a message, ask yourself if you would be comfortable saying in person what you wrote.
Just like you would in the classroom, if you disagree with an opinion expressed online, explain your thoughts calmly and rationally.
Express yourself well
Do your best to write and spell correctly but do not let imperfect grammar stop you from participating. Everyone’s voice is important. Aim for clarity to lessen the likelihood of misinterpretation. Review and edit as needed before you post.
Maintain a level of formality in your writing appropriate to an academic environment
Avoid slang, acronyms, emojis and abbreviations.
Humour often doesn’t translate well in writing
Write without jokes or sarcasm.
Take the time to read other students’ comments carefully before responding
This helps to avoid repetition and redundancy. If you are responding to someone, refer to the original post so other students can follow the discussion.
When you are on a live video conference, follow these best practices:
- Wait your turn to speak; follow your teacher’s directives for how to ask questions.
- Mute yourself when you are not speaking.
- Turn off any background noise; if you can, be alone in the room.
- Use appropriate lighting so that others can see you.
- Dress properly. You’re in class, so don’t wear anything you wouldn’t wear to school.
- Don’t abuse the chat box; think of it as the equivalent to raising your hand in class to ask a question.
Preparing and studying for online evaluations
Create a study plan
Following these steps will help keep you on track:
- Assemble an exam preparation checklist that outlines the type of evaluation(s), the date when the final evaluation will be available, the due date or the exam date, the method of submission.
- Review exam instructions so that you understand the amount of work that needs to be completed.
- Prioritize by the due date, how much the evaluation is worth and how difficult the evaluation will be. It is always better to allot more time to complete an evaluation than you think you will need and to start early.
- Break down work into smaller, specific tasks. Schedule multiple short periods of time, depending on how long you can concentrate, with short breaks in between. Be clear about what you intend to complete during each period of work.
- Schedule time to review. For science- and math-related courses as well as courses such as quantitative methods, it is a good idea to redo all the questions from quizzes, tests and those at the end of a chapter.
- Use an agenda or digital planner to map out all this by week and month.
Talk to your teachers
Get in touch with your teacher if you are facing circumstances that impede your ability to complete an evaluation, do not understand course material or instructions, or need clarification on due dates or how to use a certain platform. Your teachers are here to help you.
- Use an open book only as a reference during the exam. Approach your studying as you would for a closed-book exam. Don’t rely on your open book to replace your studying.
- Understand the format of the exam. Know ahead of time if questions are timed or if you can go back and forth between questions. Make sure you understand whether your exam will contain multiple choice questions, short answers or other types of questions to adequately prepare.
- Understand the course material and test yourself on your knowledge on the various concepts. You will most likely be asked questions for which answers cannot be easily found in the open book and copied onto the exam. You know you understand material when you can teach it to someone else. In science- and math-related courses, you know that you have mastered the material when you can solve a problem without help.
- Create summaries for each concept and indicate where to find the complete notes for each concept within your material.
- Organize your material: notes, slides and texts should be complete and in the correct order. Use a table of contents, colour coding, tabs, etc.
Set yourself up in a quiet, dedicated workspace, preferably not in your bed or in front of the TV. Turn off notifications on your computer and phone or put your phone away while your work. Try to make sure that those around you know that you are studying in order to minimize interruptions. If there is a lot of noise at home, try using earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones, or play white noise on your earphones.
Set up your tech
- Use a laptop or desktop computer to complete your exam. Avoid using a tablet or mobile phone.
- Make sure you are plugged into or close to a power source.
- Follow the recommended specifications for the platform you will use for your evaluation (for example, avoid using Internet Explorer because it is not supported by a number of platforms)
- Close unnecessary applications, programs and browser windows
- Disable notifications on the device you are using and turn off any other devices
- Temporarily disable browser add-ons, extensions and plugins, especially ad blockers, before beginning an exam. You can find instructions on disabling extensions here:
Before an exam
- Take care of yourself: get a good night’s sleep each day for several days before, exercise or do something fun to burn off extra energy, eat a balanced meal, avoid excessive amounts of caffeine, manage anxiety with the stress-reduction techniques described in the “Take care of yourself” section below. Think positively and keep things in perspective.
- Make sure that you have communicated with your teacher beforehand if you have any questions. Teachers may provide you with specific times when they will be available during the exam period, but they may not be available during the exam. Know how to contact your teacher in the event of an emergency.
During an exam
- Make sure all permitted materials are easily accessible.
- Save your work often.
- Navigate using the buttons embedded in the exam platform. Do not use your browser’s navigation buttons.
- Do not double-click buttons and links; this can slow down screen loads and produce errors.
- If you navigate away from an exam, the timer will not pause and you may lose all the information you have entered in the form up.
- Take the time to write clear and concise answers to questions. Your teacher will want to see well-organized responses.
- Review your answers before submitting.
- Be sure to submit your entries. You may need to specifically click on the “Submit” button.
Taking care of yourself
10 ways to keep calm and carry on during COVID-19
It’s normal to feel anxious and worried during these unusual times. Here are ten coping strategies to help you through.
- Safety first. Do absolutely what is needed to keep you and others safe and healthy as we weather this pandemic.
- Get the facts. We will feel less anxious and more in control when we know what we are dealing with. Be it COVID-19, your mental health, academics, university, work or finances, consult reliable sources. Ask questions, find out where you stand and what you need to do to stay well and on track —then do it.
- Be flexible. Maintain as much positive normal as you can, but also revise your expectations to fit your new reality. Be easy on yourself and others where you can. Things will not be perfect. Think “good enough.” Remember the big picture. Consider seeing obstacles as opportunities to be creative and learn new things.
- Focus on right now. Ask yourself, “What can I concretely do for myself right now to manage the situation?” Don’t get ahead of yourself. Prioritize. Take care of the basics first. Be proactive, positive and control what you can. Make a to-do list. If you don’t get it all done, tomorrow is a new day.
- Commit to the daily fundamentals. Eat, sleep, exercise and take care of yourself every day. Go outside safely at least once a day. Eat healthy and yummy food. Get up and go to bed at a reasonable hour.
- Work. Create a dedicated workspace and a reasonable daily study schedule for yourself and stick with it. Break your workload down into manageable sections. Collaborate with your teachers and classmates to develop a new, comfortable, academic groove for yourself.
- Play. Make time every day to have fun doing something you like to do by yourself and/or with others at a safe social distance. Balance and routine are key.
- Stay connected. Make a list of people you want as your support team. Speak with them each day, individually or in a group conversations, in person or virtually.
- Honour your emotions. Your feelings are legitimate and worthy of expression. That said, try not to let them get the best of you. Breathe. Tap into your inner strength (it’s in there!). Don’t sweat the small stuff. Go with your tried-and-true stress relievers. Get help if you need it.
- Remember that good things are happening, too. Take a break from the bad news and embrace the goodness, big and small. Practice being grateful too, every day.
Manage your anxiety and stress
Here are some basic techniques to help calm anxiety and reduce stress:
- Know the origin. Anxiety and stress have biological purposes in the human body. Once upon a time, anxiety was what kept our hunter-gatherer relatives alert while they searched for food. Even today, worry and anxiety keep us from making mistakes that will compromise our safety.
- Recognize its symptoms. Anxiety and stress have many manifestations:
- Physical: difficulty sleeping, back, shoulder and neck pain, loss of appetite, trembling, headaches, digestive problems, heart problems, high blood pressure, arthritis, weight gain or loss.
- Emotional: impatience, hyperactivity, aggression or passiveness, feelings of depression, worry, despair, guilt.
- Psychological: distraction, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, difficulty at work and at rest.
- Remember that this, too, shall pass. Physiologically, it is impossible to maintain a high level of anxiety for longer than several minutes. Try a self-soothing technique until the anxiety fades.
Write it out
- Keep a journal. Research has shown that journaling your worries can help you sort through your thoughts and lessen the anxiety you feel about them. Set aside a little time each day for journaling your worries, rather than returning to them constantly throughout the day.
- Throw it out. Write down your worries on a piece of paper and then toss it in the recycling. The physical act of discarding the paper may help you discard the thoughts mentally, too.
- Write a letter to yourself. Pretend that your best friend is experiencing the stress and anxiety you are feeling. What advice and comfort would you give them? From this perspective, you may be able to examine your situation objectively and apply a level of compassion to yourself that you often reserve for others.
Talk to yourself
- Talk to your worry. Personification of a worry allows people to feel as though they have control over it. By giving anxiety a face and a name, the logical brain takes over and begins to place limitations on the stressor. You can create a “worry doll” or character that represents your worry. Next time a worried thought arises, try to teach the doll why they shouldn’t worry.
- Recognize cognitive distortions, messages our minds tell us that are simply untrue. When we recognize these distortions, we can begin to replace them with truths.
- Think positively. Repeat positive statements to yourself and learn to recognize your strengths. Avoid taking on other people’s problems. Focus on the present rather than regretting the past or worrying about the future. Set realistic personal goals and reward yourself when you accomplish them.
Take care of your body
- Sweat. Exercise that is more intense than your normal physical activity level can reduce your body’s physical response to anxiety.
- Stretch. The process of slow, methodical stretching, combined with various muscle tense-and-release exercises, can provide many of the same benefits.
- Spend time outdoors. Exposure to nature and green spaces has a positive cognitive effect on humans, calming the mind and helping the logical brain to take over from the anxious brain.
- Disconnect. Studies show that over-exposure to technology and social media is adversely correlated to sleep and stress, especially in young adults. Be mindful of your daily screen time.
- Eat well. A stress-free diet is high in fruits and vegetables, protein and whole grains and low in sugars, sodium and saturated fats. Reduce or eliminate stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.
- Get enough sleep. Get to bed at a regular time each night. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet and well ventilated. Don’t nap in the late afternoon. Avoid nicotine, alcohol, caffeine and technology for a few hours before bedtime. Establish a calming routine before bed, such as taking a hot bath or reading a book.
- Focus on your breath. Breathing slowly and deeply mitigates many of the body’s stress responses. Check out this deep-breathing worksheet.
- Practice cognitive defusion. Separate the reaction you are having from the event. Think about the stressor separately from your reaction to it. Talk about your anxious feelings as though your mind is a separate person. Re-create your internal dialogue.
- Listen to guided meditation, designed to help you relax by presenting images for your mind’s eye to focus on rather than focusing on the stressor. You can also listen to music, stories or something else uplifting and soothing.
- Try grounding techniques.
- Volunteer. Researchers have long shown that “helper’s high” happens when people help others without any expectation of reward. Whether you are helping a local charity, family member or neighbor, volunteering is an easy way to alleviate your feelings of stress or anxiety.
- Turn your focus outward. Anxiety would have you believe that you are the only one who has ever experienced worry or stress in a certain situation. In reality, many of your peers are experiencing the same feelings. By sharing our feelings with others, we discover that we are not alone and that the advice were give others is really meant for ourselves.
Other remote learning resources
Check out these recommended sites for more remote learning tips:
- Concordia University Learning Support Resources
- McGill University Remote Learning Resources
- Penn State University Study Skills Resources
- UC Berkeley Student Learning Center Resources
- University of Michigan – Adjusting your study habits during COVID-19