5 Tips for Online Student Success at Binghamton University

Posted by Cali Scahill on March 18, 2020

With the recent transition to online courses, it may be hard to adjust to the new, virtual-learning environment. Many are used to learning in person, and seeing your professors and classmates on a computer screen may be a new experience. If you’re having trouble adapting, or just want some tips on how to make the most out of online learning, check out our guide to navigating the virtual-learning landscape.

Familiarize yourself with the technology and online learning platforms

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B-ONLINE

If you’re looking for an in-depth introduction to virtual learning, B-ONLINE has you covered. The program is an orientation to online learning specifically made for students. The B-ONLINE session is completely free and will take a little over two hours to complete. Register for the orientation here. Once you are enrolled, visit B-ONLINE.

myCourses

By now, most of you are used to myCourses, Binghamton University’s Learning Management System based on the Blackboard Learn product. Some of your classes may have used this program to post readings, discussion posts, quizzes, and other tasks, and nothing has changed. However, if you’re unsure how to use myCourses, visit Blackboard Learn Help for Students for helpful resources and tutorials to help you in your online learning experience. 

Starfish

Need to book an appointment? No problem. Use Starfish, Binghamton’s online appointment scheduling and early alert communication tool. If you haven’t used Starfish before, look through the Student Starfish Resources page for more information and tips. If you feel like you need more help, you can watch training videos for more support. To access the Student Starfish resources, visit the Starfish at Binghamton webpage.

Zoom 

Videoconferencing is probably the newest element for most in the switch to online learning. If you’re unfamiliar with the format, make sure to give yourself a good amount of time to sign in and set up for your class or meeting, to avoid the stress and disruption of technical difficulties. Try to navigate the platform and get a feel for the settings to make the most out of your learning experience. While there are various video conferencing platforms, Zoom has been the most popular program at Binghamton University. If you want more information, visit Zoom Resources.

Panopto

If you need to give an oral presentation in a class, your professor may ask you to do this via Panopto, a video creation and content delivery solution. This program easily allows you to record yourself and presentation slides on an online platform. For more information on how to use Panopto, visit Creating Panopto Recordings and Panopto Support.

Practice good virtual communication

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Emails

With the switch to online learning, email has become a vital way to communicate with others.

  • To make your messages easier to navigate for instructors and the Help Desk, make sure to include the course subject, number, and section (i.e. WRIT 111 - 02) in the subject line of the email,  your name and B-Number, and a detailed, yet brief, explanation of why you are reaching out.
  • Be mindful of your expected response time when emailing faculty and staff. If you are contacting them outside of their normal business hours, don’t expect an immediate response; they may not check their email outside of business hours or they may have a high volume of emails that they need to respond to. 
  • Although communication is largely virtual, keep in mind that you should still maintain a professional style of language with your instructor or university professional. Write in full, grammatically correct sentences and avoid using informal language. 

General communication

  • Be proactive and communicate any issues or anticipated delays related to your work as soon as possible. Instructors can better help you if they know about current or future issues in advance.
  • Clarification is key. If you don’t understand an assignment, are unsure how to use new programs, or are confused about instructions, seek clarification. This could be in the form of watching video tutorials, sending an email to a classmate, or reaching out directly to your instructor or teaching assistant.
  • Actively participate in online discussion boards set up for your class, or take advantage of opportunities to connect virtually with your classmates. This can help create a virtual classroom support system, and you will have certain classmates to reach out to when you have questions about your class. 

Stay on top of your time management and motivation

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Stay organized

It may be tough to stay motivated to complete your assignments when learning remotely, but don’t give up!

  • Make a daily to-do list based on your coursework, assignments and other responsibilities.  Be specific with the tasks you assign yourself to ensure that you’ll complete your goals. For instance, instead of just writing "study for Biology exam," try writing "re-read chapter 8 and create flashcards with key words and concepts." This will help you measure your progress and stay on task. 
  • Use a calendar or planner to note all upcoming assignments, exams and project deadlines. Not sure how to organize your calendar? Look here for some tips. 
  • Create a daily routine based on your online coursework and when you know that you are your most productive. 
  • If you are enrolled in a course that meets at a specific time and date that you need to "sign in" or participate in, be sure to give yourself time to deal with technical difficulties to avoid stress and any distractions from your learning process. Make sure to take some time to navigate the platform and learn the settings to decrease the distractions and disruptions as much as possible.
  • If you are enrolled in a course where you complete work independently instead of “signing in” for class time, consider blocking out a specific time each day as your own personal "class time." It is so easy to procrastinate, so make sure to give yourself ample time to review assignments, ask any questions, and complete and turn in the work prior to the deadline. 

Be accountable 

  • Ask a friend or classmate to be an accountability buddy. Send each other a text or email checking in on each other with progress updates and remind each other of upcoming deadlines to ensure your academic success.
  • Reflect on your academic motivators. Whenever you catch yourself wanting to procrastinate or skip class, it can help to remind yourself that your online coursework is still being factored into your semester GPA.

Be mindful of your physical environment

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  • Designate a specific study or class time area to mimic the experience of "going to class." Whether it is at your desk or at a kitchen table, this can allow you to get into "class mode" and hone your focus. 
  • Minimize nearby distractions by:
    • finding a quiet place
    • using noise-canceling headphones
    • turning off social media notifications
    • turning off background entertainment (gaming systems, video streaming, television, distracting music, etc). 

Ask for help

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If you need help with your course work or navigating the new online programs, reach out to your instructors, your advisor and other support staff. Take advantage of the resources available to you, and don't be scared to ask for help.

Resources

  • One great academic resource is the Writing Center. It provides students free tutoring in college writing by guiding and advising you as you work on your paper. The Writing Center aims to help students become better writers and can assist you with assignments from any class, whether it be essays, arguments, research papers, reports, analyses, editorials, proposals, abstracts, and lab reports, with critical reading, developing presentations, and citing sources. The center is moving to online March 19, and you can make an appointment online.  
  • Another helpful resource is Information Technology Services, available for all of the tech support you may need. The ITS website itself has its own wealth of information you may find useful, but pay attention to the services section for other important information. However, if you need more individualized help, you can search the knowledge base and submit a help ticket directly through ITS Self Service.

Cali Scahill is a student assistant in the Office of Media and Public Relations and a senior majoring in English Rhetoric and minoring in graphic design. She loves reading, eating Thai food and watching movies.

Have questions, comments or concerns about the blog? Email us at social@binghamton.edu