Georgia Gwinnett College professor shares tips for remote learning success

Pic of Dr. George Darden

Dr. George Darden 

A sixth-generation Georgia teacher is sharing some coping skills to help students achieve success with online learning. Dr. George Darden, assistant professor of educational foundations and chair of faculty for 6-12 programs at Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC), was invited to speak to students at an online forum and shared tips.

“I’m coming to you as a professor in the School of Education,” Darden told the online gathering of students. “That means I think about, write about and teach about teaching and learning. I’m also coming to you as someone who, in the spring, had to convert an entirely face-to-face class into a virtual class in the course of two weeks.”

Darden, who joined GGC in 2012, has taught hybrid classes (classes taught partly in-person and online) at GGC for several years, and taught an entirely online class this past summer.

He said these are the things he’s learned when it comes to success in a virtual environment:

•    Attend all synchronous sessions, be they online or in-person.

“If your class is meeting at 10 o’clock on Tuesdays and Thursdays, whether it’s online or in person, you need to make sure you’re attending that course,” said Darden, noting that a lot of online students he’s had think that since online courses are recorded, they can simply watch at their leisure. “What happens is, stuff piles up and suddenly watching the class becomes just another thing in a long list of things students need to do.”

Another benefit of attending the classes in real-time is being able to ask questions as they come up. “And almost invariably, questions will come up.”

•    Carve out a set time in your schedule to do your coursework.

If you’re not leaving your house in order to go to campus, it’s easy to stay in “house mode,” Darden explained. Carving out and protecting time to do coursework, and being consistent about it, helps create a regiment conducive for learning. It’s also important to have a dedicated workspace in your home for the same reasons.

•    Communicate with your professor.

“I can’t suggest this more strongly. Communicate with your professor about everything – of course, this includes course content, but it also includes logistics around papers you need to write, different activities you need to do, and technological issues. If you’re having a hard time hearing in class, if you have a hard time connecting, if you have poor internet – communicate in every way possible.”

•    Be ready for an increased workload.

A lot of folks are under the mistaken impression that coursework will be easier online, when it can actually be harder. Professors have to meet their course objectives in ways that don’t involve working directly with you, so they might ask you to read and write more. 

•    Be open to things like online study groups, accountability partners and hangouts.

You won’t be sitting next to people in class like you normally would be, so if somebody asks you to join an online study group, a hangout or to be an accountability partner, be open to that opportunity.

•    Communicate with your mentor.

Every GGC student has a mentor. When professors can’t get in touch with their students, they will often reach out to the students’ mentors to communicate vital information.

•    Remember: Your professors want you to succeed.

“The one thing that I have found that unifies all GGC professors is that we appreciate the mission of student success that is at the core of the college. We are invested in your success!”

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