Communication Tips for Remote Learning Success
These odd times are hard for us all and transitioning to remote learning will likely be challenging too for both you and your professor. But with time, practice, and clear communication, it will get easier for us all.
Take a moment to recognize that as a college student, you have already been building skills to be able to think critically, communicate effectively, and lead through the unexpected. In other words, you’ve been training for this challenge all along! These skills, along with a little patience and kindness, will help make the final weeks of the semester more palatable.
In short, this will be hard, but together we will make it! Here are a few tips to get you started.
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What will occur in your courses from this point forward is not typical online learning. This is remote learning during an ever-evolving global crisis. This means there are many factors at play every day affecting how your instructor can teach and how you can learn. Week by week and course by course somethings are likely to change. You will have to let go of some things, and you will have to make changes to the way you do other things. Be honest with yourself about your priorities, your needs, and what you can reasonably ask of yourself as a student right now. Communicate early and often with your teacher about where you are being challenged.
Check out this great resource from the LSU Center for Academic Success. Here are some highlights:
- Think about all of your responsibilities (personal, professional and academic) and identify what has changed for you that will impact how you connect with others and complete your work.
- Make a plan for how you will address each one of your responsibilities, taking into account your new setting and constraints.
- Set a schedule for yourself, commit to working on one thing at a time (rather than multitasking), and prepare a list of questions regarding course logistics that you will need to find answers for.
Know that many of the on-campus academic support services you traditionally accessed have now moved online. Check these out:
- Online Writing Support via LSU CxC
- Online student support for C-I Course projects
- Online Tutoring with LSU Center for Academic Success
- TeleMental Health Services via the LSU Student Health Center
Now that we are working in a remote learning environment, recognize that your professors and classmates will likely have different schedules, priorities, communication mechanisms, and technical resources. Just like you, they are experiencing transition in ways that transcend just one course. Being proactive, transparent, and clear in how you communicate with others is more important now than ever. Here are some first steps to consider:
Catch up on all your course communications
Carefully read through your LSU email, Moodles, and any previously designated communication channels to understand what your teacher has already shared about class updates. Here are a few things to look for, in addition to the specific questions you identified while checking in with yourself.
- Will the professor be holding any virtual office hours or classes that occur in real-time, and have they shared what they expect of you for those? (Mandatory, optional, etiquette, etc.)
- Have any major projects been adjusted?
- Have they posted any policies associated with personal, professional or technological responsibilities that might impact your engagement with the course?
Connect with your classmates
Start connecting virtually with your classmates to find those who have schedules similar to yours and form a pact to support each other. If your class already has established study/project groups in place, connect first with that group. Make plans to meet regularly via phone or video chat. Help each other set schedules and establish a routine so you all feel a sense of accountability, less isolated, and more motivated. Collaborating with peers in remote learning environments is also a great way to work on your interpersonal communication skills—one of the top skills employers are seeking in new hires!Keep in mind that peer collaboration is great but freeloading and cheating are not. Be sure you and your peers know the difference.
Clearly communicate with your professor
Clear, concise, and complete communication is always key, but it is even more important when done virtually...and even more important given our current circumstances. There are so many nuanced communication cues that happen subconsciously when we are face-to-face in the classroom, and these are extremely difficult to replicate in virtual settings. Also, remember that we are all now experiencing more digital communications than ever (emails, text messages, video calls, etc.). We’re all making adjustments to our normal communications routines and figuring out how to adapt. Here are a few etiquette tips to keep in mind:
- When emailing your teacher, do so from your LSU account whenever possible. Include the course info in the subject line as well as 1-2 key terms previewing the purpose of the email (example: “ANTH 1003 questions about course adjustments”).
- Regardless of which medium you are using to send your message, include clear language detailing the purpose of the message and where else you looked to find your answer. (example: “I reviewed all of our Moodle course materials and the emails you’ve sent about our course adjustments but I couldn’t find anything about the deadline for project 2.”)
- Identify any action requested on the part of your recipient (example: “Is there a time I could connect with you for virtual office hours?” or “can you confirm I am on the right page with X?”).
- Use kind language and thank them for their time (example: “I hope you are well.” and “Thanks for all your help!”).
Because we are transitioning to remote learning mid-semester under unusual circumstances, the methods and media you use to connect and communicate with your professors and classmates will likely change. Take the time now to figure out what those new communication channels are and how to use them. For example, you might start doing more zooming! Zoom is LSU’s preferred video conferencing software and as a LSU student, you have free premium access to Zoom. It can be used for web-based video calls or traditional landline audio-only calls. You can initiate a video conference with classmates, peers, family, or friends at any time. Your instructors may use Zoom for virtual office hours, real-time online classes, or small group discussions. Zoom can even be used by you or your professor to record virtual meetings and presentations. If your professor says they will be using Zoom, ask if there are protocols or etiquette rules specifically for your course. Meanwhile, here are a few resources to get you started:
- Etiquette tips for real-time video conferencing
- Basics of filming yourself
- Zoom Tutorials for LSU students, faculty and staff
- How to Participate in a Zoom Meeting
Take this time to reflect and document the different forms of communication you find yourself engaging, and what you are learning about professionalism, problem-solving, teamwork, digital communications, adaptability, and time management during this period. These are important skills for any future career, and you can use this experience to further enhance your portfolio and your confidence as a communicator and thinker. Yep, turning lemons into lemonade!