Top Online Learning Pet Peeves (and How to Solve Them)

| Blake Huggins


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With more college classes moving virtual, some unexpected pet peeves have cropped up. We're taking a look at the most common online learning frustrations and helping students solve them.

Online learning is on the rise due to COVID-19's continued impact on higher education. The transition can be challenging, and it's no surprise that technology-related pet peeves are emerging. These common and understandable frustrations can have students walking away from class meetings feeling exhausted or exasperated.

If this scenario sounds familiar, you've come to the right place. We've compiled some solid online learning tips you can use to enhance your experience.

It's Hard to Speak Up in Class Discussions

Using tools like Zoom fundamentally alters class dynamics, including how you experience class discussions. Fortunately, most platforms have features to facilitate these interactions. Making good use of these tools will have you contributing to discussions again in no time.

Most instructors will cover this, but if they don't, speak up. Your teacher should offer clear guidelines about how to participate, even in a virtual environment. Make sure you know what is expected and how your teacher plans to manage the online classroom. If your platform has something like Zoom's "raise hand" feature, you can use that to signal when you want to speak. Many classes also use breakout rooms for smaller group conversations. Look for ways to use the platform to your advantage. Many instructors already relied on these tools before social distancing, but now they are more important than ever. Use them to reach out to your teachers with questions and discussion points even outside class time.

Sound and Light Issues Drive You Nuts

If you've ever been in a Zoom meeting with glitchy sound, you know how distracting this can be. Experiences like this may have even sent you searching for solutions like the best computer microphone, or asking yourself, "what is a ring light?" Your setup doesn't need to look or sound like a professional studio, but a little optimization can go a long way.

Maximizing how you use your existing tools requires zero financial investment. You can implement proven best practices, like raising your computer camera to eye level and avoiding strong backlighting. If you're struggling in a low-lit environment, you may want to acquire additional equipment, like a ring light. These tools offer many of the same benefits as professional equipment at a fraction of the cost. If your classmates have trouble hearing you, it might be a good idea to invest in an external microphone or a headset. Many popular devices offer wireless connectivity and noise cancellation functions, which can help cut out distractions.

The Video Won't Record

We've all been there. You're working on a group project that requires video recording. You've prepared and rehearsed ahead of time. You deliver your remarks -- only to discover the video didn't record!

This experience can be discouraging. Recapturing your original energy can be difficult, especially with multiple people. We all love to wing it online, but mastering your platform's recording function ahead of time helps you avoid these issues.

Zoom's recording function is controlled by a large button at the bottom of your screen. Where this recording ultimately ends up depends on your settings and software licensing. For more on this, see Zoom's instructions on how to record a Zoom meeting. Due to COVID-19, Google recently lifted its licensing restrictions for Google Meet through September 2020. This means anyone can use the platform to record using these easy steps. Like most other alternatives, Microsoft offers a group recording feature with cloud storage. This can be done on mobile and desktop devices alike, per these directions.

You Don't Feel Connected to Your Teachers

Online learning fundamentally changes how we interact with one another. We're all adapting as we go, and one of most noticeable shifts is how we connect with our teachers. Here are a few tips for maintaining meaningful connections in the digital space.

Most instructors have replaced their traditional office hours with virtual offerings hosted on Zoom or similar platforms. This is a great way for you to connect outside of structured class time. If your teacher does not host virtual office hours or if you feel you need additional time, don't shy away from requesting it. You might be surprised at how accommodating your instructor is. You won't know if you don't ask! You were probably already doing this. Most teachers check their email frequently, and this is likely to increase due to the shift. If you're unable to connect through video call, shoot them an email.

You Don't Feel Connected to Your Classmates

The sense of disconnection may extend to your classmates as well. Transitioning to online learning means you no longer enjoy regular face-to-face time built into your day. This may be disappointing, but it is also an opportunity to explore new ways to stay connected.

Attending a virtual happy hour is a great way to stay connected with your peers. These are informal spaces where colleagues can catch up, socialize, and support one another. If you're interested in connecting in smaller groups or one on one, consider swapping contact information. Many students trade phone numbers and email addresses to stay connected. You can meet up in virtual chatrooms outside of class as an alternative to library or coffee shop study sessions. If you haven't already connected with your colleagues through other outlets, make the move now. Integrating your classmates into online social circles you already swim in helps maintain strong connections during social distancing.

Final Word

Virtual learning was already becoming popular before COVID-19, due to local demand and new technologies. This trend will likely increase as the global pandemic continues and social distancing measures remain in place.

These online learning tips should help address some common pet peeves associated with remote classes. Addressing and responding to these frustrations early helps foster an enriching environment as you navigate the new education landscape.

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