Since Georgetown University transitioned to a virtual learning environment on March 16, many students have navigated taking classes online for the first time. The Master of Science in Finance (MSF) program, the first technology-intensive degree program at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, has always offered a blended classroom, in which students have the option to attend in person or remotely from anywhere in the world. Raye Powell (MSF’21) shares what she’s learned as an online student, based in Germany, over the past year.
Make a study plan, and stick to it.
Map out your course schedule and when you’ll do readings, watch videos, and complete cases and class exercises. Then stick to your plan. Having one will allow you to spread out the work and keep you from becoming overwhelmed. It also will let you know if you fall behind. A study plan gives you hard deadlines — especially helpful if you happen to be a procrastinator like me.
Find ways to engage with your classmates.
Get involved in Zoom chats, Slack channels, discussion boards, listservs, social apps — wherever your classmates are. If you take the time to look up answers to people’s questions, you will solidify your knowledge of the material, and you will be more likely to get thoughtful answers to your own questions. Classmates will engage with you more often, which is helpful for class work and strengthens your network for the future.
Give yourself extra time to deal with technical difficulties.
Technical difficulties are not excuses to be late to class — we all deal with them. Make sure you give yourself enough time to connect to the classroom and deal with any issues, especially with the audio. Additionally, allow yourself extra time to connect for an exam. If you run into technical issues, you may need a manual proctor, which can take time to set up.
Be aware of time zone differences.
Keep in mind the time difference: If something is due at noon, and you live on the West Coast, you probably will not have time to complete the assignment that day, since it’s due at 9 a.m. for you. I have the opposite problem being in Germany — classes and office hours are always late at night. For students located internationally, keep in mind time changes, too. I missed class a couple weeks ago because I forgot daylight saving time started in the United States. (The clocks change later in Europe.)
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
I prefer to address questions to my classmates first via chat rooms, and this way everyone sees the information. If I have a specific question that they can’t answer, I’ll send the professor an email or attend virtual office hours. Don’t be afraid to ask what others may be wondering. Everyone is in this together.