Online learning at UNYP during the COVID-19 outbreak

As you probably know, universities in many countries have taken the decision to shift as much tuition as possible from in-person to remote instruction due to the new coronavirus outbreak. The Czech government has taken precautionary measures to stem the possibility of COVID-19 transmission in public places. As a result, all UNYP courses in the full-time bachelor’s programs will move to remote instruction beginning Monday, March 16, 2020. Due to uncertainty related to steps being taken to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Europe, particularly travel-related restrictions, UNYP has decided to guarantee the conducting of online classes in all bachelor’s programs until the end of the Spring semester. This means that instructors and students at the University of New York in Prague will all need to do their best to keep up with the curriculum. The goal of moving online is to minimize the need for UNYP students and staff to gather in large groups, or to spend extended amounts of time in close proximity in the classrooms, library, and cafe.

The remote courses will cover the same topics that the UNYP in-person classes do, and you should expect to devote the same amount of time to each session. If you have never taken an online course before, you might wonder whether they will be more comfortable than traditional on-campus programs. Of course, some programs are more suitable for online delivery than others. For example, it would be much more complicated to deliver online classes in, say, lab-based chemistry or the performing arts than lectures and seminars on businesspsychologyIT, and International Relations. Although some people believe online classes have radically different educational goals than traditional classes, the objectives are generally the same. Online students will need to complete assigned readings as well as homework assignments and participate actively in the course, just as in traditional classes. 

Some students can find it challenging to concentrate outside the classroom. It is not yet known when the state of emergency will end in the Czech Republic, so you can use the following tips to ensure that the online classes are an effective substitute for your regular classes. 

Optimize your online learning at the University of New York in Prague

  • UNYP’s professors and instructors are always happy to assist their students and provide individual feedback. Don’t worry – you will still get the same level of attention and support, even if you don’t see them face-to-face.
  • It’s a good idea to test your computer before the first class. Make sure that everything works and is up to date – you don’t want to accidentally schedule an operating system update at the same time as your class! If you are taking a video conference class, it’s best to avoid opening other programs or windows, especially if your computer is not very fast. Test your wifi connection with Speedtest, and see if it matches the requirements for your video conference software. 
  • As usual, you still need to make time every day to study, and to complete all your readings and assignments before class. Distance learning can take the form of scheduled live lectures, group meetings and text-based chats. Studying from home requires self-motivation and discipline. It can be hard to stay focused on a course when you would rather be doing something else, so you will need to stay accountable to yourself.
  • You might not be used to communicating with your professors via text and email, but during this time you will become much more dependent on the written word to exchange information. This is a great opportunity for you to practice professional communication in writing, so compose your messages as if you’re speaking to a future employer.
  • Think through your daily routine. No more excuses! You can’t blame traffic or bad weather when you study online. The assumption will be that you’re in the class because you want to be there. Plan your day around your class and study time, not the other way around. Prepare any materials that you will need for the class, and put some time aside every day to complete readings and assignments.
  • Find a space that won’t distract you from the lecture, and create a positive working environment for yourself and the rest of the class. When it comes to studying online, just because you can do it anywhere, doesn’t mean you should. For example, if you are in a videoconference, try to be alone in the room, especially if you are using the built-in mic on your laptop rather than a headset – you don’t want to compromise the learning experience for your peers and make it harder for the instructor. If it is impossible to find a quiet spot where you live, you might want to consider noise-canceling headphones. Remember to mute the microphone when you aren’t talking.
  • Even online courses may require old-fashioned tools. Pencils, pens, and paper are still incredibly important for online learning. Typing can be quicker, but during videoconferencing or live class lectures you may need to handwrite notes. 
  • One of the most common mistakes that new online students make is taking advantage of their flexible schedule and using it as an excuse to procrastinate. The best way to avoid slipping into procrastination is to set a schedule and stick to it. 
  • When thinking about the benefits of switching to online attendance, you may like the idea of spending more quality time at home. Without in-person classes, you have the opportunity to spend more time relaxing in the comfort of your home, and you can literally attend a lecture in your pyjamas. Spending more time at home may also reduce some of your expenses, like coffeelunch and fares. 

As you begin your online courses on Monday, keep these tips in mind to ensure the successful continuation of your educational journey. They will become part of your daily routine in no time, and your self-discipline will serve you well when in-person classes are resumed. 


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