Students: Preparing to Take Courses Remotely

This page provides helpful tips to students preparing to take courses remotely.  Succeeding in an online classroom requires a committment to time management and a willingness to engage in new ways. Here are a few tips that can help you succeed as a student learning remotely. 

Getting Started

  • Identify if your course is taugh synchronously or asynchronously.  In a synchronous course, you will meet live with your instructors and other students on a regular basis.  Be sure to mark these times on your calendar. In an asynchronous course, the instructor will release content and assignments on a regular basis with defined deadlines.  You do not meet live with the instructor.  Asynchronous courses provide more flexibility in when you complete your work before defined deadlines, but it is still important to keep up with that work and understand the instructor's expectations.  

  • Set up a dedicated workspace. You’ll begin to establish a routine by repeatedly completing your work there. Establish connection to high-speed internet access, if at all possible. If you can not access a reliable internet connection, contact your instructor if you think it will interfere with joining class sessions or completing your work. 

  • Make a schedule for juggling the various activities you will need to complete for your courses.  Get organized and write down all class meeting times and assignment due dates in one place.   Set aside time for breaks.  Don't try to cram all your studying into one block of time. Include breaks when you you work  to help you can begin new tasks refreshed. Be sure to prioritize working on larger projects/assignments so you aren't trying to complete them just before the deadline.

  • If you are unfamiliar with the technology (e.g. Zoom), make sure you take time to familiarize yourself with how it works and test it out before connecting for the first time. There are many excellent resources online.   Here is one example of how to join a Zoom class 

  • Communicate potential challenges to your instructor or advisor. Contact your instructor or advisor as soon as possible if you have concerns about accessing course content because of Internet access, technology limitations, sickness, anxiety, etc.     

  • Check daily for announcments from your instructor (e.g., email, Piazza discussions, Blackboard announcements).   

Things to Keep in Mind

  • Attending vs. Participating. Attending class online doesn’t mean just signing into Zoom or Blackboard. That is the virtual equivalent of just “showing up.” What it really means is participating -- in discussion board posts or in collaborative activities and synchronous sessions when possible, and in engaging in the materials. Be present and engaged! 

  • Find a partner in each of your courses.

    • Make a pact with them to help support each other inside and outside of class

    • Set-up times to virtually connect with them to study

    • Talk about the class materials and, where appropriate, work on class assignments or review and give feedback on each other's work.   

  • Follow proper “netiquette” when participating online.

    • Share your point concisely and clearly. Stick to the point when writing posts. 

    • Verify facts before posting.

    • Provide proper credit citing and referencing others work as appropriate.  

    • Check for spelling/grammar errors and do not use slang.  

    • Respect others with appropriate choice of language. 

    • Exercise caution when using humor online. It can easily be misinterpreted.

  • Be patient with your instructors. They may be teaching with technology that is new to them as well. 

  • High ethical standards will continue to be upheld and consequences enforced. Please adhere to the student conduct policy and ask the instructor for clarification if you are not sure of instructions. 


Many instructors will use Blackboard as the primary method for delivering asynchronous course content.  Keep in mind that instructors use Blackboard differently and will choose specific tools based on their course goals. For example, some instructors may rely heavily on the Discussion Board in Blackboard, while others may only post links to course content 


Before your first Zoom Class: 

  • You do not need to have a Zoom account to connect.  Your instructor will provide a link/meeting ID to join the Zoom class.  (But if you need to host your own meetings, set up a free account at

  • Chrome is the recommended browser for Zoom. 

  • Arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled time to test your Audio and Video. 

  • Prepare any content you intend to share ahead of time and toggle it behind your Zoom screen (if applicable).  This ensures that you will be ready to share your screen when called upon.  

During Zoom Class 

  • Please keep your microphone muted except when it is your turn to talk. 

  • For discussions, enable your video camera and use the ‘Gallery View’ so that you can see your classmates. 

  • Sit up straight or stand – don’t lay down or slouch.

  • Put away your phone and other devices that may distract you.
  • Use the buttons underneath the participant window to raise your hand, agree or disagree, provide feedback on the pace of the lecture/discussion, or indicate if you have had to step away for a short break. 
  • Share your screen when it is your turn to share your presentation or content with the class. 

  • Please refrain from any side conversations during the Zoom class. 

  • Do not talk over or interrupt other students or the instructor. Use the ‘raise your hand’ icon. 

  • Click on the ‘chat’ button to see and participate in the ongoing chat discussion. 

Camera Use 

  • Position your webcam at eye level or higher. Experiment for best angles. 

  • Make eye contact. Try to look at your webcam as often as possible. 

  • Use the gestures and mannerisms that you would typically use in person. 

  • Please treat this as you would our in-person class in terms of dress and appearance.  Your camera should not reveal anything potentially offensive.  

If you are unfamiliar with Zoom or have technical questions, there are many help videos available online: 


All JHU users (students, faculty, and staff) have access to 5TB of free storage in JHU’s OneDrive, a personal cloud storage space which is part of the Office 365 suite. Students can easily store and share files with other JHU users as well as those outside of the institution.