Tips to Adjusting to Online Learning for Students

Here are some helpful suggestions to help you transition to online learning:

Organizing your school work in new ways may be challenging, but you can do this.

• Think about which of your classes are the most difficult. Start with those classes and begin to create "to do lists" for those. Break down your list or tasks into clear, manageable steps. You can start a list of upcoming tasks for each course at the beginning of each week and put it all in one place, like a journal or planner or just a piece of paper. Perhaps you want to create a folder on your computer for each class.
A notebook can work well.

• Communication will not be the same as it was in face to face classes. In email correspondence, try your very best to phrase questions to your instructors in such a way so they are able to respond in a brief response. Faculty members may be more likely to respond if they know they can answer you quickly, plus this will keep down the back-and-forth emails with professors.

• A great idea is to create email folders for each course and put any communication into that folder, to manage the huge influx of digital information. For many faculty at FSC (and all across the country as well), teaching on line will be new and challenging.

• It can be isolating to go from an active college student on a busy campus to sitting at home with no one to interact with but email and Blackboard. Stay engaged with family and friends through this stressful experience. You're least at risk outside, so get outside for exercise and fresh air, if possible.

WE CARE ABOUT YOU and the College cares about you. These are really challenging times for us.
Engage in your courses EVERY day. Because the content may be delivered not in the method you're used to, you will likely need to spend more time on learning the content than you usually require. More review of notes, more reading, and employing more active study methods to stay engaged while learning alone are important strategies. EVERYONE is learning to do things in a new way.

• Communication is critical if you're having trouble with an online test. Contact the instructor, and the DSC in the same email. Students must take an active role. Keep communicating!

• Utilize academic support, even remotely. Academic advisors, tutors, and us in the Disability Services Center are still available via email.

Shifting to Taking Exams Online


Exam Environment

You are used to coming to our office for a more controlled environment to minimize distractions. To create a similar setting, we suggest you prepare your space before starting an exam online.

• Set up your space before taking your exam to minimize distractions. Make the environment feel like a testing environment (in other words, don't decide to eat your lunch while you are taking your exam or have your television on in the background).
• Turn off phones. If you have a landline, set the ringer to silent or low.
• Place a "do not disturb" or "testing in progress" sign on your door.
• Inform family members (who might also be home) that you will be taking an exam for a specific span of time to minimize interruptions.
• You might want to use a lock down browser if you're prone to surfing the internet.
• Have all allowed materials available and organized before starting the exam.
• At least 15 minutes before the exam, set up your environment to make sure you do not have any computer or internet access issues.
• If fidgets or music/sound help you, make sure you have these items available.

In General

• Know the rules and expectations of taking the exam online. Is it open book/notes or are students held to the honor system? Are you being proctored remotely by your professor or a computer program?
• Can you start the exam at any time or is the exam only available during a certain time frame?
• If your accommodations allow for breaks during exam, is there a way to pause the exam?
• Before starting the exam, make sure you know how many questions are on the exam and how much time you have so you can plan accordingly. Since we won't be there to give a warning, you might want to set a timer to go off 10 minutes before your time is up.
• Have a clock or timer nearby so you can track how much time you have.
• Have scrap paper so that you can note questions you want to revisit.
• Questions may be presented one at a time. It may be more difficult to navigate an exam and go back to review questions. Jot down question numbers and note any questions you may have.
• If you have clarification questions for your professor, will you be able to reach the professor? How will you do this? Find out before you take your exam.
• You may have finally gotten used to the format of your teacher's in-class exams and suddenly that format might be different as it shifts to an online platform.
o Reach out to your teachers and ask if the exams will be different. The more prepared you are with what to expect, the better.
o If you are suddenly allowed to use notes or access your books during an exam, be careful not to use up all of your time and rely too heavily on these materials. It is better to put an answer down that you think is correct and then return to that question later if you have time at the end to double check than to spend time searching for each of the answers.

Migraines and Eye strain

Prolonged computer usage can cause a strain on your eyes. If you are prone to migraines or have other visual issues, you will want to take extra steps to minimize the impact as much as possible by adding some adjustments to your computer monitor and workstation.

• Your desk setup can trigger a migraine. Make sure your monitor is placed directly in front of your face to reduce neck strain. Your monitor should be 20 to 40 inches away from your face at eye level.
• Adjust the refresh rate of your monitor to its highest rating.
• Adjust the display settings of your computer to help reduce eye strain and fatigue.

  • Brightness: Adjust the brightness of the display so it's approximately the same as the brightness of your surrounding workstation. As a test, look at the white background of this page. If it looks like a light source, it's too bright. If it seems dull and gray, it may be too dark.
  • Text size and contrast: Adjust the text size (enlarge) and contrast for comfort. Usually, black print on a white background is the best combination for comfort.
  • Color temperature: This is a technical term used to describe the spectrum of visible light emitted by a color display. Blue light is short-wavelength visible light that is associated with more eye strain than longer wavelength hues, such as orange and red. Reducing the color temperature of your display lowers the amount of blue light emitted by a color display for better long-term viewing comfort.

• To reduce your risk of tiring your eyes by constantly focusing on your screen, use the "20-20-20 rule". Look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds.

Are you a student with Autism?

Students with ASD

As many colleges and universities move online due to virus transmission concerns, many of you on the spectrum may face some particular challenges.

Change –Change in your routine can really be hard. These changes may be difficult for you to accept and work within. None of us knows what the next few weeks will bring, however, we are all in this together and we are here for you. All of us at the DSC can be reached via email for any questions or concerns you may have.

Structure – Many of you thrive with structure which we are removing with classes going online and many students returning home from their residence halls. The lack of structure and sameness is very challenging. Make a schedule to structure your day.

Being Alone – During this time of crisis we are told to practice "social distancing." We want to encourage our students to keep up social contacts online with Skype or Facetime. Study groups can meet online and multiplayer games can be suggested for social continuity. (See next section)

Screen and Game Addiction - College students in general and those with ASD in particular are very vulnerable to screen and game addiction. Moving classes online gives students even more screen time and the possibility of increased addiction considering the isolation the crisis is causing. We suggest you use a timer so you can take screen breaks, get outside, eating, and sleeping all are even more important now than ever (and for us too!)

Residence Halls – You may be hesitant to leave your residence halls and move back home. You may like the independence college has afforded you and not want to return to a restrictive home and parents may be intrusive. This is temporary of the current crisis and will be returning to your residence halls (we hope many of them this spring but as least in the fall.)

Course Work and Motivation – Online classes can pose many barriers. You must be motivated to complete work independently and be able to initiate assignments and study. This can be challenging. We can assist you with structure and formulating schedules via email.