Though becoming more popular as changes continue in higher education, the digital classrooms for the accelerated virtual and online programs at Concordia are often misunderstood.
Digital classrooms: The new frontier
Though becoming more popular as changes continue in higher education, the digital classrooms for the accelerated virtual and online programs at Concordia are often misunderstood. For many accelerated students, it may seem like a whole new frontier! Let’s set the record straight on a few common myths about digital classrooms.
Myth #1 Digital classrooms are not as effective as traditional classrooms.
We’ve all learned to adjust over the trying times of the pandemic. This is certainly true in the world of higher education. Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW) was uniquely prepared with a robust and effective digital format when in-person classes were shut down. CUW’s Lead Director of Extended Campuses, Danya Sasada, states:
“The virtual classroom is enjoyable and engaging just as the face-to-face environment. The instructors are well-trained and experienced in teaching in this format to help make it dynamic, providing access to more technology at our fingertips.”
Myth #2 When you enroll in a virtual or online class, you’re on your own.
Many students assume when they begin digital classes that they will be left on their own to fend for themselves. Students are frequently working and studying on their own. While students are frequently working and studying on their own, the responsibility of being engaged as a learner remains essential for students in any format, including face-to-face classrooms.
Sasada suggests: “Be present and an active participant/learner! Adopt a positive mindset. Keep your camera on so that you have a face-to-face connection with your instructor and classmates. Employ interdependence and ask for help if you find you are struggling. Communication is key as with any classroom environment. Ask your instructor to stay on after class or meet privately during a break just as you would in the physical classroom. You can even do so privately, via chat. Join or create Zoom study groups to help learn from your peers. You can do and create anything, virtually, as you would in a physical classroom.”
Ty Landers, CUWAA’s Director of Center of Academic Advising & Career Engagement (CAACE), has these encouraging reminders:
“You have a team of people committed to supporting your success. Concordia’s faculty, advisors, support staff, and administrators are just as committed to the success of our virtual learners as we are to those in-person. Faculty will continue to meet with students to answer questions outside of class time. Services like tutoring are robust, available, and effective virtually. Your advisor will serve as a resource every step of the way. The modality may be different; however, our commitment to your success is unchanging.”
Myth #3 Digital Support is not available like it is to traditional students.
Concordia has placed major emphasis on assisting accelerated students. Our team is available to help with registering for classes and developing degree plans. Additionally, we’re here to help you connect with instructors, tutors, and the Academic Resource Center. Read more at The Encouraging Voice of Concordia’s Academic & Career Advisor, while Landers suggests:
“The CAACE team has been serving online or distance-learning students for many years – long before COVID altered the ability to meet face-to-face for classes. Therefore, the structures that already existed within advising. One important structure is the ability to meet with advisors remotely through multiple mediums. Also, we emphasize effective and timely digital communications. Finally, we offer virtual academic support services for those struggling in their coursework. These structures have been around for years and continue to support students during this time. In many ways, the tools and offerings for those practices have also been enhanced. The entire university continues to prioritize support for virtual learning in the wake of the pandemic.”
Myth #4 If I don’t know how to use technology, I will struggle as an accelerated student.
Quinn Roekle is an Academic and Career Advisor for several programs at Concordia. She has heard this concern from students, especially those returning to complete degrees left incomplete after many years. Roekle suggests this is one of the most important objectives of the initial advising appointments required for new and returning students. “By conducting our first meeting over Zoom, we can assist students with the transition to digital learning,” says Roekle. “I frequently acquaint students with the technology and provide directions and recommendations for assisting them in this new path.”
Check in with an advisor
Landers and his team echo that suggestion and encourage students to meet with their advisor throughout the completion of a degree:
“We recommend that students meet with their advisor at least once per term. This facilitates a strong personal yet professional relationship between student and advisor and allows the advisor to develop a holistic understanding of a student’s vocational goals, educational strengths, lifestyle factors, etc. In addition, we encourage students to meet with their advisor via Zoom versus talking over the phone (as their lifestyle allows). Zoom allows advisors to share their screen to review resources or documents, see a student’s screen to teach processes or solve problems, and cater to non-verbal communication cues that enhance the advising experience.”
The most logical advice is simply “give it a try.” There are many students who have found unexpected success in the virtual classroom. They’re been able to weave their educational pursuits into their busy lifestyles in productive ways.
Do you want to know more?
To learn more about the accelerated degrees and programs offered for busy adults, visit CUWAA Accelerated Admissions or call 262-243-5700.
— Vanessa Lane is the Content Marketing Lead at Concordia University and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. When she's not at work, she can be found playing with her kids or watching NBA basketball with her husband.
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