3 tips to succeed in online classes from UAB Collat School of Business

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An empty quad at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Photo via UAB on Facebook

Across the nation, schools, colleges and universities have temporarily eliminated physical classes in an effort to flatten the curve and stop the spread of Coronavirus. The University of Alabama at Birmingham is no exception—on March 25, the university transitioned its on-campus classes online. Luckily, the UAB Collat School of Business is no stranger to online classes—in fact, they’ve been offering them for more than a decade. More than 1/3 of their students are online-only students. 

Here’s what you need to know about online classes and some handy tips to making a successful transition online.

First—How do Online Classes Work?

UAB Collat

“Most Collat School of Business faculty teach online and on campus, so many of our courses have some online components already. Students view videos and complete quizzes, assignments and other practice material online in an educational software platform called Canvas. This way, class time can be spent applying concepts they have been introduced to prior to class.”

Dr. Elizabeth Fisher, Director of Innovative Learning Solutions, UAB Collat School of Business

Collat’s online classes are far more than video lectures with PowerPoints thrown up onto a website. A high level of interactivity is built into all online courses with students continuing to work in teams to complete and present real world cases, projects, role plays, and more. Students can even use a digital whiteboard to demonstrate complex math problems.

When it first set up online classes, Collat adopted quality assurance measures and established best practices to ensure online classes met the same high expectations as in-person classes. 

Faculty use a host of online tools to conduct live class sessions, presentations, team meetings, virtual office hours, and one-on-one meetings to keep students engaged. In live classes, students are able to virtually “raise their hand” and interact with one another and the professor in real time as they would in a regular face-to-face lesson. 

Collat’s online classes also incorporate components that students can complete on their own schedule and at their own pace. Discussion boards allow students to comment on topics or raise questions at any time. As one of the quieter students in my classes, I was rarely the one to speak up (unless called upon!). However, discussion prompts give each student a voice. Students also can play recorded videos repeatedly to fully understand concepts and materials. 

Challenges and Opportunities

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“Any of the resources at UAB—counseling, tutoring, career services and more—students can get in an online format. They still have access to those resources.”

Elizabeth Fisher, Director, Innovative Learning Solutions, UAB Collat

Although Collat already has the system in place, the transition from face-to-face learning to a virtual environment can feel like a big leap. The biggest change—by far—is the unknown. For students who really thrive in a classroom, it can be difficult to adjust to staring at a computer screen.

However, remote lessons offer many unique opportunities to students. For instance, students who aren’t as talkative in class have the chance to send personal messages to the professor for one-on-one learning.

“Even for students who aren’t tech savvy, we have 24/7 tech support, how-to guides, and other student resources that can be accessed digitally. The biggest challenge is just getting used to not being in the classroom.”

Dr. Elizabeth Fisher, Director of Innovative Learning Solutions, UAB Collat School of Business

How to Succeed in Online Classes

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A classroom at UAB Collat. Photo via Bham Now

1. Manage Your Time

Let’s be real—working or studying from home can be distracting. Depending on your living situation, you could have a ton of distractions, or none at all. Either way, it’s important to set a time each day to sign in and know what’s going on in each class. Don’t plan to catch-up all at one time. And pad in some extra time to complete assignments as you get used to a new system!

2. Stay Organized

Organization is key—especially in online learning. Use the calendar in your educational software program (for Collat students, that’s Canvas) to keep up with various assignments from different classes. Create neatly organized folders so you always know where every important document is supposed to be. That will save you from many headaches down the road.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed and shut down. Understanding what’s next in each class and completing that is more productive than worrying about the ALL the things on the to-do list and getting nothing done.

3. Connect with Your Professors

If you don’t understand something or something is not making sense, reach out and ask. Professors are used to this and trust me, you aren’t the first one to ask them a question. If you think the professor has made a mistake in grading, ask. Faculty changed classes in mid-stream and there could be mistakes.

Learn More About the Collat School of Business

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The UAB Collat School of Business lobby. Photo via UAB on Facebook

Although there is no physical activity on UAB’s campus for the near future, it’s never too early to start planning to further your education at the UAB Collat School of Business. Learn more online or check them out on social media to get a first-hand look at what it’s like to study business at UAB.

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Nathan Watson
Nathan Watson

Senior Content Producer with Bham Now | Originally from Tennessee, Nathan moved to The Magic City after graduating from Birmingham-Southern College. Nathan is passionate about recognizing Birmingham's history and is thrilled to learn more about the big things planned for The Magic City's future.

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