Infographics for Writing Courses

Traci Gardner, Department of English, Virginia Tech

Succeeding in an Online Course

How to Succeed in this Online ClassOnline courses work differently from the face-to-face courses that have probably made up most of your college experience, so I want to give you some tips to help you do your best work. If I had to narrow things down to the bare minimum, I’d tell you to focus on consistent, regular interaction—with the course materials, with your writing group, and with me. Here are ten specific ways to make that happen.

  1. Set reasonable expectations: This is an online writing course, so it requires (obviously, I hope) a lot of writing. This isn’t a course where you just read and take tests. Because you need to practice both formal and informal writing, you will communicate in discussions with one another as well as in your major projects.

  2. Explore the course website: There’s lots of information on the course website. Spend some time exploring all the pages by clicking through the menus. While you may not remember everything, you will gain a good sense of what is available and where to look for answers when you have questions.

  3. Do the readings: The readings are a significant part of the teaching in this course. I point you to infographics, videos, webpages, and ebook sections to teach about the writing strategies and genres that this course covers. Take some time to explore them all fully rather than just skimming them. If you skip the readings or don’t give them full attention, you miss out on the content of the course.

  4. Keep up with #general in Slack: I always post updates on the course in #general first. If something changes about an assignment, you’ll find it in #general first. Likewise, if I add a special resource, I will announce it first in #general. Check in at least once daily so that you always know what is going on. I begin these special announcements with @everyone so they should be easy for you to find.

  5. Schedule class time. It’s easy to think you’ll fit an online course in whenever you have time. The problem is your other classes, your job, and your social and professional obligations typically all have set times. It’s easy to run out of time and realize that you never did get to your online course. Be proactive and schedule class time several times a week. Treat your online course just like a face-to-face course by adding some 50-minute blocks to your schedule that you will dedicate to doing work for the course.

  6. Spread the work out: You will be more successful in the course if you spread your work through the entire week. Trying to do all the work on one day in a giant block of time gives you little time for reflecting and revising your projects. Further, it tires you out on the content. Several shorter work sessions are the best strategy.

  7. Don’t try to do all the work at the last minute: Generally, it’s a good idea to begin your work early, but it can be even more important in an online class. If you wait until the last minute, you may not get feedback from your group members in time to improve your project before the submission is due.

  8. Check in with your writing group daily: Your writing group is your support system in this course, but that support works two ways. You need to be there to help everyone in your group. Ideally, you should check your team channel in Slack every day. It should only take a few minutes to read through the posts and reply or leave some emoji feedback. If there are drafts to read, let your group members know when you will give them feedback.

  9. Go beyond simple responses: When you interact with your group, spend some time on your response. There’s no reason to write 500 words every time you post or reply to your group, but you should go beyond short posts like “Here’s my draft,” and responses like “Looks good.” Tell your group what kind of feedback you need. Explain what looks good. The idea is to collaborate on revision, and that means you need to spend some time engaging and connecting with one another.

  10. Talk to me: I have no way of knowing when you need help. In a face-to-face classroom, I can usually tell my looking at people’s faces or noticing when someone doesn’t talk in class. None of that works in an online class. I need you to talk to me. Tell me how it’s going—what works for you and what you’re unsure about. Most questions or comments can be posted in #general on Slack. That way everyone in the class can benefit from the answer to the question. If your group has a question, you can ask in your group channel. Anywhere on Slack, just tag @tengrrl so that I can easily find your questions. Of course, if you have a personal question, email me.

 

 

 

Credit: Infographic was created on canva.com. Icons are all from The Noun Project, used under a CC-BY 3.0 license: : book laptop by unlimicon, Coffee by Vladislava Barzin, schedule by Chameleon Design, group chat by Gregor Cresnar, and group brainstrom by cathy moser.