• Emily Yeung

Online Class Tips for Students | Best Advice to Ace Online Classes UBC 2020 - 2021

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

As UBC converts to online classes for the foreseeable future, there's a lot of adjusting both professors and students have to do. Although online classes may have its benefits (who doesn't wanna listen to a boring lecture in bed), it can be really hard to adjust to this new type of learning. From my very short experiences taking about 6 courses online, here are some tips, tricks and online resources I’ve come across that may help you make the most out of the online course experience.

Man video calling with classmates

Websites and resources:

1. If you're in a zoom class, your profs can tell if you're in a different window for more than 30 seconds. Usually this isn't a big deal, but it's just something to keep in mind. I have recently heard of this website called Beulr.com which may be something that is helpful for classes on zoom that take attendance. This website will log into your zoom class under your name which can be especially helpful if there's a reason you can't attend class (yes, sleeping through your 9am counts)  

2. Despite online textbooks usually being temporary access, they have ridiculously high prices. Check out sites like library genesis, b-ok.cc, project gutenberg and zbooks. These sites have thousands of online textbooks and I've already saved hundreds using textbooks from these sites. 

3. My addiction to my phone is a pretty serious problem when I’m doing online school since no one can really stop me. Self control is huge in online school. In order to concentrate, turn off your phone/ airplane mode and put it in another room. You can also use apps like forest, or flipd to crack down on phone use. Additionally if you get texts on your laptop, download the cold turkey extension on your laptop to help you concentrate on your work. 

4. Quizlet, if you haven't already used it, is an online cue card service. You can search exact courses or questions and find cue cards made by previous students or make your own. I love quizlet, especially for classes based on memorization. 

5. Chegg is a website with tons of online resources, however it does require a paid subscription. Additionally, professors have been contacting Chegg to out students for plagiarism, so in my opinion, it's best not to use it. Instead check out Ch36650lut10n5.com for textbooks solutions and guides. It's free and you don’t need to enter any of your personal information.  

General tips and tricks 

1. Have several designated learning areas If you have to take notes, sit at a desk. If you are just listening, choose a comfortable seat (but probably not your bed since it's easier to fall asleep). I found that sitting at the same desk all day led to back pain, so trying to have more than one spot to switch between can be helpful. 

2. Do your work in the early morning or late at night, especially if you have a family that hogs the wifi. If you're having wifi connectivity issues, try and do your classwork before your family wakes up or after they go to sleep so you can get the best service and access your class resources without issues.

3. Make facebook groups for your classes. Knowing people in your class that you can ask questions or discuss class work makes a class easier and more enjoyable. Check out the UBC facebook groups and see if anyone has posted about the classes you've registered for. If no one has posted about them, make a post yourself and create a group chat. Even making just one friend in a class can make a big difference 

4. Attend online office hours. I know they are not the same as in person office hours and I can’t truthfully say that they are as helpful, but it is better than nothing. Just having that opportunity to talk to your prof, even if it's over skype or zoom can provide insight you didn't know you were missing 

5. Take notes on your online textbook. I am someone who much prefers physical textbooks over online textbooks, but since that isn’t an option this year, we have to adjust. Although most online textbooks have features to highlight and bookmark on the textbook itself, I would recommend that you take physical notes or typed notes instead. Highlighting an online textbook is just not the same as highlighting a physical textbook and lets be real, you aren't going back to check what notes you've highlighted in your online text. 

6. Online lectures can seem fast paced and sometimes you may get distracted. If this is something you are worried about check out 0tter.ai, fireflies.ai and quillbot. These sites record your lectures and transcribe it into text so that you never miss a thing. 

7. Make a calendar and enter the dates of major assignments. This is probably something you should be doing for in-person class too, but I find especially with online classes, since there is no prof to remind you as frequently about upcoming assignments and deadlines, its especially helpful. As soon as you get your syllabus, enter all midterms and deadlines into a calendar and check for overlapping dates or things to be worried about. 

8. Keep a routine for school days and differentiate it from weekends. Try and do something fun on the weekends. I found that with classes being online everyday, life became an endless circle. Differentiating weekdays from weekends may help with this. Maybe do less homework on the weekends, do a hike, grab brunch with your friends. Try and find something to make the weekends feel different so that the endless cycle of online classes doesnt get to you. 

9. Communicate extenuating circumstances to your profs before the add drop date. Make sure to figure out if the online class is synchronous or asynchronous. If you’re worried about things like vacations, wifi issues or time zones affecting your ability to complete exams at the set time, communicate this to your prof before it's too late 

10. The last thing I want to talk about is academic dishonesty. With classes being online, it is easier than ever to get away with cheating, and it's likely that a majority of students are doing it. If you’re choosing to commit academic dishonesty, you won't be the only one. We’re in some pretty crazy times, the pressure might feel like a lot. But keep in mind that UBC has a zero tolerance for cheating, and if you get caught there are serious consequences like getting kicked out. So be careful with what you’re choosing to do during your online classes and make smart decisions.

persons hands typing on laptops

If you have any other recommendations for online classes, make sure to comment them below and help out your fellow classmates.