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Stories from the Home We Love So Well: Maximizing Learning-Where-You-Are

The Home We Love So Well: Stories from Home Series

Maximizing Learning-Where-You-Are

“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn,” said Albert Einstein. Of course, Einstein didn’t teach classes online.

Back in the “good old days”—about five weeks ago—students and faculty gathered in small classes where Huntingdon faculty bestowed that Huntingdon hallmark of personal attention in a “know and be known” atmosphere. Now faculty have to carry both their teaching and their caring into cyberspace, and they’re up against conditions they can’t control. Some students have family quarantined all around them and no room of their own in which to learn. Some are working in front-line grocery store, pharmacy, drugstore, hardware, or medical jobs. Some have lost their jobs or have family members who have been furloughed or let go. Some have spotty Internet access. Name a situation, and there’s probably a student who’s in that spot.

The worry conjured by COVID-19 also has a profound effect on learning. Worry takes up a lot of space in one’s brain. So much space, in fact, it’s difficult to fit new knowledge around it.

Above all, Huntingdon faculty want their students to succeed. To that end, they offer some tips for students to gain control of the conditions under which they learn as well as their ability to focus on the subject matter. Here’s what some Huntingdon faculty advise:

“Make a sign for your door that says ‘doing school work.’ It will help communicate to your family!”

                —Chaplain Rhett Butler ’13

1—Maintain a schedule so that you can consistently be up-to-date on assignments;

2—Take advantage of the opportunity to review or replay lectures when possible;

3—Verify the dates and times that assignments are due.

                —Dr. Chris Clark ’07

“This is what I tell my students. I call it the UKULELE method:

U–Understand how you learn best.

K—Keep learning and practicing new things using YouTube, Kahn Academy, and other videos.

U—Use previous learning to promote your new learning.

L—Look up answers rather than struggle to remember.

E—Eliminate distractions when studying and learning.

L—Learn in multiple ways.

E—Educate others—teach what you have learned to a friend, loved one, or your pet.”

                —Dr. Maureen Kendrick Murphy ’78

“My students have remarked that they are using my first-day suggestion of keeping a ‘written’ list next to your computer of all of your classes, assignments, due dates, progress on assignments, and tasks completed. Although some of them have completed a (1) course on-line, none of them has attempted four (4) or more at the same time. I also recommend that they structure their time like they do for their face-to-face classes and then add an hour.”

                —Dr. Lisa Olenik Dorman

“I tell students to read their papers out loud—your ears will catch mistakes that your eyes miss! If you stumble over a sentence while reading it aloud, it probably needs a little more polishing.

“I also encourage students to ‘think like a teacher.’ Pretend like you have to teach the material to someone else. What are the main ideas? What questions would you ask on a test?”

                —Ms. Vaughan Dickson

“Plan ahead! At the beginning of the week, look and see what is due in all your classes and make a timeline for completing your work. Some students have said they like to work some on the classes they would normally have that day of the week, and other students have said they like to focus on one class on one day of the week and complete all assignments for the week in succession. Find a rhythm that works for you to pace out your work to avoid overwhelming crunch times. Planning several weeks out for larger assignments can be helpful too.”

                —Dr. Diana Abernethy

“My tip for success would be to set aside a scheduled time each day to do schoolwork.  Success in a remote learning situation means doing a little bit each day, rather than trying to do a week’s worth of work in one sitting.  With lots of unscheduled time, it is easy to put off work and fall behind. Slow and steady wins the race for remote learning.”

                —Dr. Stephen Sours

“Stuck for an idea?  A favorite grad school professor used to tell us to take an idea and ‘stand it on its head.’ In other words, look at it from multiple sides or angles.

“If possible where you are (particularly if you’re easily distracted), set up an area with your computer that ‘feels’ like a school space.  Pile stacks of books around you—it doesn’t really matter what they are—it’s about creating an environment that helps you focus while ‘in class’ or completing work out of class.”

                —Prof. Eric A. Kidwell

—Stay engaged! Check Canvas and email daily. Look at notes and materials regularly.

—Reach out. No one can read minds … email your professors or participate in video conferencing and communicate well. New methods and expectations may be confusing. Don’t be afraid to ask your question and get clarification.

—Keep a calendar however you prefer, whether online or via pen and paper or both. Set Sunday afternoons as a time to plan out the week—noting when you will accomplish each task.

—Find out how you memorize and study best: Is it old-school flash cards? Re-writing notes? Saying the material out loud? Drawing images or pictures about the topic? Practicing online via Quizlet? Find out what works and stick to it. Don’t forget that tried and tested ‘old school’ methods of notecards and pen and paper work well and are often a nice respite from overuse of screens and tech.

—Maintain good habits of health and balance. Get enough sleep, exercise, eat well, do things you enjoy. All of these habits affect learning. A daily routine helps.

                —Senora Catherine Murphy

“I encourage students to check on their email and Canvas accounts at least 4 times a day: Early morning, early afternoon, early evening, and late evening and to set alarms: Set alarms on your smartphone or smartwatch as per the following example: 8:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., and 8:00 p.m., or something similar. Also, set notifications to ‘on’ for Hawkmail and Canvas so that any new email and/or new announcements and assignments posted on Canvas will appear on your phone or watch. Then, don’t wait to check. Check any new notifications ASAP. Since we are all working electronically, think of classes as a continuous snapchat.

“Plan your time in accord with the hours you typically attend class. If you have two MWF classes, that’s 6 hours you should plan to spend learning the materials posted by your professors. Take notes just as you would when you are in the regular classroom and set aside appropriate study time. Now is the time to be as proactive as you can. Don’t be in ‘Wait Mode.’ Be in the ‘I am going to email my professor and find out when the next learning module or assignment is going to be posted and due even before I see anything new posted.’

“For my Wellness classes, I add this: ‘As we have been doing for at least 30 minutes per week during Thursday or Friday class periods, practice what we preach! Engage in your favorite physical activity! Do it out-of-doors and smell the air; see the sunshine; break a stress-releasing, health-promoting sweat; and continue to actively embrace each component of the Wheel of Wellness.'”

                —Dr. Michele Scharff Olson ’86

  1. First and foremost, make sure you stay safe and healthy, and you show your family and friends that you care for them and you are still close to them, even though you cannot be with them physically.
  2. At a time where the alternatives are limited, focus on maximizing and making the best out of those difficult times, by putting all your efforts in learning. Using economic terminology, your opportunity cost is almost zero: you really have nothing to give up, so why not study and learn, and put all your efforts on building your future? This short term trade-off (the hardships you are facing today) will lead to long term benefits in the future as our lives go back to normal. Remember how you can shift your personal “Production Possibility Frontier,” by building and increasing your future potential.
  3. Use all the resources I am making available to you on Canvas (the textbook, PowerPoints, Video Clips) to investigate and research the learning topics of the week, and submit your assignments on Canvas. Practice on online quizzes using all resources available, but submit your own work. Collaboration with friends should be limited to helping one another understand the learning points.
  4. Know that I am here to help! Participate in the Live Conferences I am hosting on Canvas to ask questions, and/or email me for anything I can do to help you! We are in this all together and we will get out of it together, trust in Him!

                —Dr. Cinzia Balit-Moussalli

“These are tips I have developed to help students ensure they are doing the best they can at navigating the move from the classroom to remote instruction:

  1. Turn on notifications for Canvas & Email. Check them like you do Social Media.
  2. Check your Canvas & Email at least 3 times a day: It is best to set up a routine, so I suggest you do this at the same time daily.
  3. Develop a Routine: You develop a routine when you are on campus, so it is imperative that you develop one while you are home. If you can, set up a study space, develop your ‘school hours,’ and stick to the schedule you set.
  4. Ask Questions of the Professor: Instead of asking each other and potentially getting bad information, ask your professor so s/he can ensure you know what you need to know. You can email or message the professor on Canvas.
  5. Seek Help: Your professors are here to help you. They are available via email and Canvas messenger. Ask anything, anytime, and they’ll do their best to respond in a timely fashion.
  6. Do your Part: Do the readings, participate, and sign on to any online chats/video conferences ready to learn. Online platforms can be rich in individual development and educational achievement, but you have to be proactive.
  7. Do Not Forget Academic Integrity Still Stands: It is up to you to ensure that you are not breaking any Huntingdon College rules regarding academic integrity. Issues like plagiarism, cheating, and others can easily be avoided. Ensure you are citing any resources you use correctly, do not copy the work of a classmate, only use your materials on tests if it is stated that it is open resource, and if you ever have to question if something you are doing is ethical—don’t do it.
  8. To access the school Library & Databases remotely, you must have a library card. If you need help obtaining a library card remotely you can email Eric Kidwell (ekidwell@hawks.huntingdon.edu) or Paige Crumbley (paige.crumbley@hawks.huntingdon.edu).

                —Elizabeth Rogers, Staton Center for Learning Enrichment

“Here’s my pro tip for the day: Relax! We’re going to get through this together!”

                —Dr. Jason Borders

A hundred years ago, during the worst global pandemic in recorded history, Albert Einstein was working on his theory of relativity, which made the former patent clerk famous in November 1919. Huntingdon faculty, in this pandemic, have had to switch from their forte of face-to-face teaching to an impersonal, face-to-screen approach. Still, their main focus is on each student’s growth and success—a truth Huntingdon students have known since the College’s founding 166 years ago.

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