The Online Neophyte

Written by
Published on April 3, 2020

This first week of online learning has been a challenge. Ordinarily, knowing I have classes twice per week on campus means I am prepared to leave the house. I have a schedule for that. Get up at 8 a.m., be in front of the computer by 8:30 so I have ample time to work on a paper before leaving by 1 p.m. to get to my first class at 2:00. When that class ends at 3:20, I have enough time to start or complete another paper for my other class which starts at 5:00.

COVID-19 has shot that schedule to smithereens. Now I have to rely on my faulty memory to “get to” my classes online; and it’s not as if I have to be “present” at 2:00 and 5:00; I just need to submit my papers on time. I just need to remember. There’s my first challenge.

On the first day, Monday, I am prepared with a plan: link up with my professor and classmates. I feel great about remembering the next class, even though I didn’t have to be online for it. On Tuesday, I got up at 8:00 to start my routine and…surprise! No Internet. There’s my other challenge.

All of Tuesday there’s no Internet service. The modem has the three blue lights that say service is present, but every device shows either the globe icon, or fan-shaped symbol sans lines, indicating there is no service. I stay up really late hoping it comes back, but no luck.

Once Wednesday rolls around my online class rolls right out of my head. As a result, I am late submitting a paper.

Again, the challenges are: remembering to be present for my online classes and having reliable Internet access. How do I resolve these issues?

According to American Public University System, APUS, “It is vital to log in to your online classroom every day or at least several times a week. You’ll need to keep careful track of the work to do each week and when to submit your work to the instructor. This way, you’ll avoid getting behind or being marked down for being late.”

Now, all my grades have not come in as of yet, but I know I have been marked down for being late and for not submitting assignments in my original online class. That was earlier in the semester before this coronavirus pandemic. But it happened again just this week for another class that has just gone online. I have done many years of schooling and have never missed submitting papers. Until now. It has left a bitter taste in my mouth.

So, my strategy to address this non-remembrance is to aggressively check emails multiple times each day, and, as APUS says, “Remember that the information you need to see each week may be stored in various sections of the online classroom. For instance, be sure to check the Announcements, Lessons, Forums and Assignments sections, so that you don’t miss important information your instructor wants you to know.”

Photo by Alva Blair

One of my professors encouraged his class to sign up for Remind, an app that allows him to send us reminders. I know it works because he sent one and I saw it, albeit way after it was sent. 

As there’s nothing I can do about my bad memory, what I can do is set alarm reminders on my phone for each class, ensuring I not only hear an alarm, but that a note is sent to me via email as well. As for Remind, I just need to remember to check it every now and then as a form of backup.

Another strategy I can put into play is to write the due date of the piece I’m working on at the top of my page. Every time I open the document to work on it, I’ll see that date and know that is what I am working toward. I think more than anything, this will prove effective.

Now, how do I address my intermittent Internet service?  I don’t know when the service will go down, but this is something I have to be prepared for, especially as all educational institutions are now providing their courses online. To deal with this, I plan to do as much work as I can and submit them as soon as possible, so in the event the service slows or goes down, I am getting the work done and submitting my papers on time. A simple solution, but I have to ensure it is effective. As a backup, I’ll more consistently check My Grades to confirm whether or not I have submitted work. Ain’t nobody got time for flunkin’ courses!