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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Advice for transitioning to an online education


Over the past two and a half weeks, the St. Joe’s community has been making the transition to online classes. 

In an Instagram poll done by The Hawk on March 15, 65% of respondents said they have not taken an online class before. 

In order to help our readers and our community at large transition to a digital education, The Hawk reached out to students and faculty who have experience both teaching and taking online courses. Below, we have compiled some of their tips and tricks for succeeding in this time of transition. 

If you have taken or taught an online course and have advice that you would like to share, email  [email protected]

Janine Guerra, Ph.D., professor of decisions and systems sciences (DSS), completed her masters degree in education online at St. Joe’s. Guerra has also taught DSS courses online, along with courses for the MBA program. 

Steer Clear of Distractions

“Treat your classes as a full-time job. The TV or Playstation or even the dog are there just begging you to pay attention to them instead of your textbook or paper. This also means letting your parents or siblings know when you are going to be working on your class or taking an exam or writing a paper so that they hopefully don’t try to unwittingly distract you either. Stay the course!”

Utilize your Professor 

“While we may not be able to have face-to-face interaction as easily, your professors are only an email away. In fact, your professor is probably going to be even more accessible now than they were before! Utilize the Canvas message system or your St. Joe’s email to ask questions. Most, if not all professors, myself included, will even still be holding regular office hours virtually through Zoom.”

Take a Break

“You’re not meant to be a 24/7 study machine. Just be smart about when and how long you take your breaks and avoid prolonging them to the point where they become a distraction.”

Jason Mezey, Ph.D., professor of English, has taught online courses since 2009. Mezey plans to offer an online English course this summer titled “Colonial Literature: How Empire Works.”

Don’t Disappear 

“Courses that have not typically been your highest priorities throughout the term are particularly risky for disengagement, so you might need to make a special effort to stay focused on those in addition to the courses in your major.”

Keep an Open Mind

“As St. Joe’s shifts to offering its courses online, things will be better if students and faculty alike assume that everybody is well intentioned until proven otherwise. As is the case with face-to-face courses, cura personalis in online courses [applies] both ways, which I think continues to be helpful to remember.”

Caroline Manyoky ’21 is a psychology major. Manyokky has taken courses online in various subjects, including English, psychology, philosophy, Greek and interdisciplinary health services. 

Write Things Down

“I can’t stress this enough. It is really easy to lose track of assignments and test dates when taking online classes. If you have everything written down, you won’t be able to forget when homework is due or when the next exam is or what the next paper is on. Whether it is on a calendar, in a planner, in your notebooks, on a sticky note, on your mirror, it doesn’t matter. Just write it down.”

Get out of bed

“It may seem like a dream that you can take all your classes from the comfort of your bed. It sounds like the utmost level of luxury. This will only lead to laziness. Getting out of bed will energize you and encourage you to actually pay attention and take notes. Sit at your desk, chill outside or, at the least, sit on top of your bed, not in it. You want to make sure the comfort of being at home won’t impede on your schoolwork.”

Emily Dunn ’22 is an entertainment marketing major. Dunn has taken an economics course online. 

Don’t Procrastinate

 “Just like with real classes, if you procrastinate, it can become more stressful because [work] can pile up. It’s the same with online. However, when using technology, malfunctions are destined to happen. So if you procrastinate and you have a computer issue, online classes can become difficult.”

Put Down Technology 

“It’s vital to place yourself in a quiet room and to try and sit away from your phone. A computer can become distracting because you can easily click a new tab and waste time on the internet. So eliminating those distractions, like removing your phone and putting your computer on airplane mode, can be a big help.”

Timmy Defonzo ’22 is a marketing major. Defonzo took an online introduction to marketing course  last semester. 

Manage your time 

“I like waking up in the morning really early and just getting to it. I have a routine: I like to wake up, eat breakfast, and I don’t like to stall any time. In the morning, I like getting my work done.”

Take Plenty of Notes

“I like to use my notebook. Seeing it and writing things hard-copy helps me. I’d say going online makes it harder, so I’ve transitioned to using Google Docs more.”

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