Video: 6 Do's and Don'ts of Online Learning

In the second installment of our Facebook Live series on online engagement, Online Student Support Specialist Bernadette Poerio spoke with Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Gifted Online Education Christina Amspaugh and student Lisa Kasiski, who joined in via Zoom. Kasiski is in her 14th year of teaching in Virginia Beach and is pursuing an endorsement in gifted education online.

“Curry has made a really big investment over the past year or so in building the quality of our online courses,” said Amspaugh. The Gifted Education program, which includes a range of graduate degrees, offers options that can benefit everyone from gifted specialists to classroom teachers, pre-service teachers, university researchers and even parents. Kasiski said her online courses have allowed her to stay in the classroom while expanding her skills and abilities as a teacher at the same time. "It's reinvented me as a teacher," she said. "The students have really responded. I've found, by going through this program, I've really been able to challenge children and provide a fun day of learning where they're being stretched."

Kasiski and Amspaugh drew on their experience in online education to provide a few do's and don'ts for student success online. Read a quick recap of their advice or watch the full video below.

  1. Do read your syllabus thoroughly, and always stay one class ahead. Successful online learners are self-sufficient and organized. Look ahead in the syllabus, Kasiski said, and plan out how you will manage your time.
  2. Do integrate coursework into your daily routine. Finding even 15 minutes per day can make the workload much more manageable. Plus, Amspaugh said, a daily check-in helps you keep connected to a sense of community and support.
  3. Do use the opportunity to make connections with other students. "Build your village," said Amspaugh. “I think back to the very first online class I took as a student, probably 15 years ago, and some of the people I met in that course who I’ve never met face-to-face, I’m still in touch with now.” Kasiski said she was intimidated by discussion boards at first, but soon learned to love them. “It’s been really enlightening to learn, not only from my professors, but from my fellow students,” she said.
  4. Do make use of all the tools Canvas has to offer. The Curry School's learning management system, Canvas, makes it easy to connect with your professors and fellow students. There's even an app you can download. “Canvas makes it so easy to participate in the class,” Kasiski said.
  5. Don’t take a summer course unless you have a lot of time to devote to it, Kasiski cautioned. Summer courses run on a tighter schedule, meaning the timeline is tightly packed and doesn't allow room to take a week off for vacation. Think carefully about how much time you'll be able to devote to your course before committing.
  6. Don’t think that online courses are going to be easier than in-person courses. At the Curry School, online courses are just as rigorous and held to the same standards as any other graduate courses, Amspaugh said. “Even though the format is different, the expectations are largely still the same,” she added.

For more advice on successful online learning, watch the other two installments in this series:

5 Community-Building Tips for Online Students
5 Tips for Mental Health and Self-Care