By Melissa McGowan, Regional & Continuing Education

Before distance learning became everyone’s reality, 550 students had a head start—as they’ve been working for months or even years toward online degrees through Regional & Continuing Education’s (RCE) Distance and Online Education programs.

Whether these students live hours away from Chico State or other circumstances make access to in-person classrooms a challenge, they have a lot of experience consuming coursework via video, messaging classmates via apps, and submitting assignments digitally.

As the University announced all classes would move to a virtual environment for the rest of the semester, RCE Director Jeff Layne reached out to ask for their help. Within 24 hours, the students produced a series of videos to support other Wildcats with the transition.

“I would love to help out my fellow peers! I’ve been reading all of the updates from Chico State and wishing that I could do something,” said senior Ariana Valdivia, who is working toward her liberal studies degree online. “I consider myself an expert of online learning because I’ve been doing schooling online since 10th grade!”

In her video, Valdivia shares advice for staying connected with other students, as well as her favorite pro tip—an app that reminds you to give your eyes, body, and brain a break during long stretches on the computer.

Rachel Piper, also majoring in online liberal studies, is a proponent of adding variety to your learning and your schedule, and shares a colorful organizational trick to stay on track. Everyone has something they can learn in this experience—even herself, she said.

“I might have to familiarize myself with Zoom and using it myself with screen share. I’ve only used it in lectures where the instructor was sharing their screen,” Piper said.

Senior Leslie Bandi, who is working toward her multidisciplinary social science degree online, agrees this transition is helping her in other ways too, as she works as a part-time tutor at a school.

“I’m viewing this as practice for increasing my comfort level with online communication, since we’re switching to that format right now,” she said.

Ultimately six “Tips for Success” videos were created, and Layne said he hopes each has something that will resonate with other students.  

“Two students provided opposite advice regarding setting up a workspace, and that is exactly what I expected,” he said. “Hopefully students watching the videos will understand there are many ways to be successful, and they should experiment and do what works best for them.”

While the encouragement and tips were directed at students new to online learning, they could also benefit staff who have transitioned to working remotely. New environments, different technology, and balancing work, family, and home life comes with many challenges.

All of the videos, including these tips and lots of encouragement, can be found in the Keep Learning website. You’ve got this, Wildcats!

Student Tips Video Descriptions & Links:

  • Ariana Valdivia shares advice for staying connected with other students, as well as her favorite pro tip…an app that reminds you to give your eyes, body, and brain a break.
  • Jessica Dorricott talks about how a consistent and disciplined schedule is key to success, along with reducing distractions around you (including roommates and pets!).
  • Kate Bennett shares some of the benefits of taking online classes, as well as getting used to the different ways that professors use Blackboard Learn. 
  • Leslie Bandi details how she keeps track of assignments and due dates when taking multiple online classes, as well as allocating enough time to keep up with the work. She also encourages you to find ways to stay motivated and overcome screen fatigue.
  • Markie Castro encourages you to be your own accountability boss to crush deadlines and assignments and stay on track. She also offers a good reminder that you don’t have to go it alone.
  • Rachel Piper is a proponent of adding variety to your learning and your schedule. She also shares her trick to stay on track and encourages you to stay connected with your instructors.

Melissa McGowan (Information and Communication Studies, ’94) is the marketing director for Regional & Continuing Education.