Since our transition to online learning, new students might not know what their first semester at university will likely look like. Bairavi Sugumar—a current Ontario Tech student—will let you know what to expect!
You might be wondering: “How in the world will I complete my first year of university with some courses online?” I was thinking the same question as you during my summer break.
But don’t worry, once the first two weeks were finished I was fully organized, knew when my classes and labs were happening, and how to locate course information on Canvas.
I will give you an overview of how Ontario Tech University is delivering online courses so you know what to expect. This information is based on the courses I took, so it might vary slightly among different programs, as I’m in the Faculty of Health Sciences.
Weekly lectures will either be live or recorded depending on the courses you're taking. For live lectures, there is a specific time and day to attend class. A helpful tip would be to review the course syllabus to know what days and times your classes occur.
Some teachers do practice problems during their live lectures and cover the actual content in pre-recorded videos. For recorded lectures, you get to plan when you want to listen and take notes; make sure you study the content before any tests or midterms!
As a first-year student, all of my labs were completely online. However, upper-year students may have in-person lab requirements.
For Chemistry, my labs were pre-recorded experiments and I would complete the required assignment. For Biology, there were online simulations and a corresponding worksheet to complete.
Live labs also have a specific day and time to attend, however, these live sessions are used for questions you might have—not to learn the experiment. Even though I didn't have the physical practice, all of my labs were organized in a concise way that helped me understand the experiment and complete the assignments.
Now that I've given you an idea of how your classes will be structured, let me give you some helpful tips on how to study in an online environment:
- Write a schedule.
- Keep track of deadlines.
- Take mini-breaks.
- Complete practice questions.
- Find a quiet space to do work.
- Turn off your phone notifications when taking tests.
Based on my experience, one of the main advantages of online learning is having more time to complete schoolwork, while also having more time for yourself.
Usually, when I am finished with a live lecture I give myself a 10-minute break before moving on to studying. Another helpful tip I use for studying is saying the information aloud as I review the content.
Another benefit to online learning is not having to travel in-between classes or from class to home. By staying at home, I can manage my own time and take breaks when needed.
Many clubs and societies are operating virtually. But if you don’t feel like joining one now, use that leisure time to take care of yourself, have study breaks or do something that interests you.
In terms of study help, there is still online peer tutoring, study hubs and workshops to attend online. If you participate in a session, you can be entered in a draw to win a gift card! Also, check out Nool for more academic and study support offered to Ontario Tech students.
I know that going through your first year of online learning can seem stressful, but just know that you will quickly adjust to an online environment and find there are benefits that will help you succeed. And don't forget, Ontario Tech offers many academic services to support you during your online studies.
Want to learn about all the ways Ontario Tech supports its students?