Getting the "Typical" Class Experience During an Online Course

By Kaitlin Hurtado on January 2, 2019

One of the best aspects of going to college for many is the ability to control one’s class schedule. Before each term, you are given the chance to register for classes on your own. You get to pick what type of class you are enrolling in, what time it will be, where it will be – you have the freedom to decide how your school schedule will go for a term. Sometimes you will not be able to pick from a variety of options, but in some cases, you will plenty of choices to find a schedule that works for your schedule. Whether it was your personal choice or if it’s an option you were kind of forced into, you may find yourself taking an online course or two throughout your college career.

There are many advantages and disadvantages to taking an online course and the fact that you are going to experience a learning environment different than your “typical” classroom experience can be seen either as a disadvantage or advantage, or both, for college students. Taking an online course is different than your typical classroom experience, but there are many ways that you can alter your online course experience to become more like your typical classroom experience and get the most out of your time taking the course. If it is your first time taking an online course, or you are looking to improve on the way you approach online course, consider the following:

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Make a list of what you define as your “typical” classroom experience

When you want to recreate your typical classroom experience when you are taking an online course, your best first step is to figure out what you usually get out of the typical classroom experience, specifically what you like about the typical classroom experience. This list will vary between different people; some students prefer a stricter classroom policy with a no technology policy, while others prefer a less strict policy where they have freedom to come and go, or use whatever they would like during class time.

Some things to consider when your list can include:

  1. The use of technology. Do you like to use your laptop to take notes during a lecture, or is the presence of your phone too distracting to give lecture your full attention?
  2. Noise level. Do you absolutely hate it when your neighbors in lecture spend the entire time talking or clicking around on their phone, or do you prefer some white noise to help you focus?
  3. Space. Do you like having a bigger workspace to spread your study materials out, or do you like a smaller space to help you feel more focused and to minimize possible distractions?

Once you have completed your list about what you like best from the typical classroom experience, start implementing them into your online course experience.

Set aside time for your online course

When you are taking the typical course, you are expected to go to a specific place at a specific time for your class. A little piece of your routine is dedicated to making sure you are at this place at the time you need to be there, and the same can be done for your online course. One of the best parts of an online course is that it grants you more flexibility in the sense that you can fit your online coursework around other aspects of your schedule that are fixed, but giving a set time away for your online course will give you the typical class experience and also give you a sense of routine with your online course.

Look at your current schedule and see where you have regular gaps of time, maybe an hour or two on a Tuesday after a shift, or a three-hour long break between classes on campus. Plan for that amount of time to be dedicated to your online course: participating in online courses, watching or listening to lectures, and taking notes. Setting a routine for your online course just like you would for any other class will help immensely in terms of recreating your typical classroom experience.

Pick out your very own “classroom” 

Another key aspect of the typical classroom experience is going to a classroom, lab, or lecture hall to learn. With an online course, you get to pick your “classroom” as the place where you are most productive. For many, they may instantly think of how they would do all their coursework from the comfort of their own bed if they could, but it may not be the most productive space for most. Instead, take time to consider different spaces where you feel most productive: your desk, the library, a campus study lounge, or coffee shop.

Make your most productive space your go-to spot to complete your online coursework. Picking the same space for your online coursework will help imitate the feel of a classroom when you are continuously completing coursework in the same place throughout a term.

Taking an online course doesn’t mean that you have to skip out on the opportunity to have the typical class experience. Make an effort to get a steady routine with your online course because the closer you get to a steady routine, the closer you will get to recreating the typical classroom experience.

By Kaitlin Hurtado

Uloop Writer
Hello! I'm Kaitlin, a second year Literary Journalism major at UC Irvine. I'm a writer on Uloop's national team and a campus editor for UCI.

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